Roland Kohloff (1935-2006), a spirited and precise master of the timpani began his career with the San Francisco Symphony before spending thirty-two years with the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Kohloff joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1956, a twenty-one year old virtuoso fresh from the Juilliard School as a student of Saul Goodman, then timpanist with the New York Philharmonic. He quickly made an impression with the subtlety and verve of his playing.
Praising Mr. Kohloff’s contributions to a Richard Strauss score during his first season with the Symphony, Chronicle music critic Alfred Frankstein wrote, “He is one of the most dramatic as well as one of the ablest timpanists in the business, and some day he ought to be a soloist with the Symphony in his own right.”
That day came the following season, when Mr. Kohloff was the soloist in a vividly theatrical performance of Darius Milhaud’s Concerto for Percussion and Small Orchestra. In subsequent seasons, he appeared in works by William Jay Sydeman, Niccolo Castiglioni, Lukas Foss and George Crumb.
After sixteen years as principal timpanist in San Francisco, Mr. Kohloff left the 1973 for the New York Philharmonic, replacing his famed teacher Saul Goodman, where he spent the rest of his career. He also taught at Juilliard where many of his students now play in major orchestra throughout the world.