Obituary: St. Louis Symphony clarinetist George Silfies, 88

Posted on: January 30, 2017

“George Silfies, principal clarinet of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1970 until he retired on his 76th birthday in 2004, began piano lessons at the age of 5 but was such a good sight-reader that he didn’t need lessons for long,” writes Sarah Bryan Miller in Thursday’s (1/26) St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO). “At 12, he took up the clarinet, the instrument he was born to play, and never put it down. Mr. Silfies died Jan. 9 (2017) of a heart attack at his home in University City. He was 88. Born in Allentown, Pa., Mr. Silfies was accepted at the notoriously choosy Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and graduated three years later, at 20. He immediately got a job with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and met his wife [Sue], a piano student at the Peabody Conservatory. Mr. Silfies spent his military service during the Korean War in the U.S. Navy Concert Band… Soon after his discharge, Mr. Silfies was offered the assistant principal clarinet position in the Cleveland Orchestra, under famed music director George Szell…. ‘George was an immense musician. He was a force,’ said SLSO associate clarinet Diana Haskell, a friend and colleague.”

Posted January 30, 2017