Feb. 9, 1925 – March 15, 2013
Allen Sigel, former principal clarinetist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and professor emeritus at the University at Buffalo, died Friday at his Williamsville home. He was 88.
Mr. Sigel was born in Chicago and grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa, where his father ran a dry goods store. His first clarinet, acquired when he was 11, came from an uncle’s pawnshop, and he became dedicated to his music, practicing up to eight hours daily and leading his mother to say, “Allen will be a famous clarinetist one day.” He received a scholarship to study clarinet at the University of Iowa with Hymie Voxman and earned a master’s degree from Rochester’s Eastman School of Music in 1947.
Mr. Sigel became principal clarinetist with the BPO in 1948 and remained with the orchestra until 1960, when he accepted a full-time position at the University of Buffalo, where he had been instructing part-time. While teaching, he remained active as a musician and composer, performing on an occasional basis with the BPO until he was in his 70s. A career highlight was playing the “Clarinet Concerto” by Aaron Copland under the direction of the composer when Copland was the Slee professor of music at UB.
Mr. Sigel also taught hundreds of private music students in the area and wrote seven books, including “The Twentieth Century Clarinetist,” considered a classic resource for aspiring musicians. He served as music director of the Jewish Center of Buffalo and was a founding member of the Clarinetist Society of America.
Mr. Sigel and his wife, Phyllis, were well-traveled, and at one time they lived in China, where he also taught. The couple wintered in the Sarasota, Fla., area.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Sigel is survived by a son, Jeffrey; two daughters, Elaine Becker and Linda; and a sister, Norma Schweig.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Sunday in Mesnekoff Funeral Home, 8630 Transit Road, East Amherst.