Welcome to clarinetist Michele Zukovsky’s website.

Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue (opening excerpt)
Leonard Bernstein piano and conductor, Michele Zukovsky, solo clarinet

Michele Zukovsky: While studying music at the University of California, I  tried out for the first chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

I was 18 years old, and after winning the audition, the first thing that came to mind was —no more trick or treating!

My previous job was not a success, which was folding clothes in Mrs. Sillicks Laundry. I got fired within a month.

This next job lasted for over 50 years, with no folding required, and I started the long process of learning 150 years of orchestral repertoire.

It was thrilling to play under such conductors as Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Monteux, George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy, Charles Munch, Erich Leinsdorf,  and many other great conductors you probably never heard of.

I am proud to say that I never got fired from the five conductors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. They were, in order; Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, Andre Previn, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and finally, Gustavo Dudamel.

A fine conductor is also a great teacher, so I was able to learn from the best of the best!  While playing at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, I learned from the great Pablo Casals himself who said, “Michele, please articulate more, otherwise it all sounds like a blur. I want to hear a sentence, not a paragraph.”  From the great cellist Rostropovich, I  learned  “for a technical passage, feel the music as a phrase…” When I was playing at the Marlboro Festival, the great Sandor Vegh showed me musical feelings he would show me through his facial expressions.

I have never stopped studying or learning.