Bernstein’s timpanist has died

Bernstein’s timpanist has died


norman lebrecht

March 01, 2015

From Alan Watkins (on orchestralist):


I record the death a few days ago at the Mount Sinai Hospice NY of the timpanist and percussionist Michael Aaronson after a long battle against serious illness.


While probably not well known in “name” terms he was a significant timpanist and percussionist in the busy New York scene for over forty years and played across a very wide range of music from full symphony to Broadway and pretty much everywhere in between.


He is known to his colleagues as an expert on timpani heads and mallets and was, at one time, involved with helping Ludwig design timp heads which were, then, a significant improvement on what was currently on the market.


He was a graduate of Juilliard where he studied timpani under Saul Goodman.  He had battled serious illness for sometime with his usual built in optimism.


He was the “first choice extra” for the New York Philharmonic for a long time and can be heard on Bernstein’s recordings of the Mahler symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon.


He was regularly consulted by timpanists well outside America for his views on all manner of matters concerning the kettledrums.


RIP and condolences to his family.

bernstein children




  • harold braun says:

    I am astounded to hear he Player on Bernstein’s Mahler DG recordings.NYPO’s then principal timpanist Roland Kohloff played on the recording of the 7th,that I know because I had the fortune to attend one of the concerts at which it has Bern recorded.Maybe in the 2nd or 3rd,where two players are required.Usually Arnie Lang,assistant timpanist and principal percussionist did this Job.

  • rdmtimp says:

    If anyone could be called “Bernstein’s timpanist”, it would have to have been Saul Goodman, the longtime NY Philharmonic timpanist, whose tenure included Bernstein’s time as Music Director.