Obituary: Clarinetist and teacher Kalmen Opperman, 90

Posted on: June 24, 2010

“Kalmen Opperman, a master clarinetist whose intensive teaching methods helped mold some of the top players of the last 50 years, died on Friday in Manhattan,” writes Charles Strum in Tuesday’s (6/22) New York Times. “Mr. Opperman began his professional career playing for ballet and Broadway, but it was his relentless pursuit of musical perfection and highly personal teaching methods that drew generations of students to his studio. ‘He was the elder statesman of the clarinet,’ said Stanley Drucker, who was the longtime principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic until his retirement last year.” A native New Yorker, Opperman studied as a teenager with Simeon Bellison, principal clarinetist of the Philharmonic from 1923 to 1948; from 1939 to 1943 he studied with Ralph McLane, who later became principal clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Richard Stoltzman, one of his best-known students, said that Opperman “composed wry epigrams and taped them to the walls of his studio, which gradually expanded to fill much of his apartment on West 67th Street in Manhattan. Among them were, ‘Everyone discovers their own way of destroying themselves, and some people choose the clarinet.’ ”

Posted June 24, 2010