George Szell’s bricklayer trombonist dies, aged 92

Allen Kofsky, trombonist of the Cleveland Orchestra trombonist for 39 years with George Szell, Lorin Maazel and Christoph von Dohnanyi, died last Thursday at 92.

Hired as principal trombone for the Kansas City Philharmonic, he gave up after seven years to help out his father in Cleveland as a bricklayer and stonemason.

Szell heard him play as a substitute and, six years later, called him into the Cleveland Orchestra.

Allen retired in 2000.


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  • I heard a broadcast recently of Bernstein conducting Mahler’s Ressurection Symphony in Cleveland from 1970. His only appearance with the Cleveland. Just a magnificent brass section, and still is, in Cleveland. We have many wonderful orchestras, but when the great ones are on, the results are truly spectacular.

    • The rehearsal for that Bernstein concert has become legendary in Cleveland. Bernstein stopped the orchestra to say “You guys are so [expletive deleted] good!”, and then continued with the rehearsal.

      • I have a ‘pirate’ of the Cleveland Mahler 2 with Bernstein. I feel that it’s the best of the ones from Bernstein’s numerous accounts (I also like his first New York one), just as the pirate of his Tanglewood Mahler 9 with the Boston Symphony is also the best. Those are just opinions, however.

  • Here, here. Dilly, dilly. The Cleveland brass section has been so over-looked due to decades of hype over Chicago’s hyper-extended lung capacity. Those guys could – and still can – sound just as powerful as Chicago, anytime they want to do that. More to the point, they’ve always been thoroughly musical.

    If it were not for the metallic ‘ping’ of the two hammer strokes, Dohnanyi’s Cleveland Mahler 6 would be, by far, my personal favorite – that’s how good the orchestra plays on that recording (great Decca sound too).

  • Allen Kofsky was my baritone horn teacher at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music from 1965 to 1969. I’m very saddened by his passing. He was a terrific teacher and a perfect gentleman.

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