I have admired Ken from my early days at the New England Conservatory in the 1970's, particularly as I got to know him better as a very talented saxophone student. He did yeoman work in our NEC recording of 1920's Paul Whiteman repertory recreations, enthusiastically playing a variety of saxophones and, if I recall correctly, bass clarinet. I was impressed!

Since then Ken has over the years exhibited an unwavering and selfless devotion to both his own students (just as his own teacher Joseph Allard did) and the creation of new musical works. My new Saxophone Sonata is the second of my works to be premiered by Ken Radnofsky. Before World-Wide Concurrent Premieres existed as an organization to commission new works, Ken gathered together all of Joe's former students to commission my Concerto in Allard's honor.

Congratulations on thirty years of devoted teaching and beautiful music making!



Find out more about where Mr. Radnofsky teaches:

Boston University

New England Conservatory

Longy School of Music


The Role of the Artist/Teacher: Kenneth Radnofsky
Celebrates Thirty years of Teaching

By Bruce Ronkin
From Saxophone Journal, November/December 1999, Vol. 24, No. 2

As one might expect during three decades of teaching, Radnofsky has found the time to reflect upon what makes a good teacher. He believes that music schools are traditionally made up of four kinds of teachers: 1. Well-known performers who don't care about their students. "Why do they teach?" asks Radnofsky, 2. Well-known performers/teachers who do care. 3. Lesser-known teacher/performers who care a lot, and 4. Unknown teachers, who don't perform and don't care. (Perhaps this is the group George Bernard Shaw had in mind.) "As teachers, " says Radnofsky, " we work daily to avoid falling into categories one and four, while we aspire to categories two and three."

In 1903 a witty George Bernard Shaw offered the famous barb, "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." While we can certainly applaud the writer for crafting a clever phrase, the reality is that performing and teaching are not mutually exclusive ideals. All performers teach. Whether the learning occurs within the walls of a formal teaching studio or by example from the stage, all performers are teachers. One of our world's greatest treasures is the performer/teacher. The performer who devotes a portion of a precious life's work to teaching the artistic traditions, techniques, and ideals of one generation to the next makes a priceless contribution to the artistic continuum - one cornerstone of our collective culture. Today's art is built upon the foundation of past generations. In nearly every form of art, and in nearly every corner of the globe, there are artist/teachers passing on their knowledge of humankind's artistic journey to a new generation. It is to these teachers of the arts that this article is dedicated. One such artist/teacher, saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky, is proudly celebrating thirty years of teaching. This anniversary has encouraged him to pause and ponder the role of teacher.

Kenneth Radnofsky has always taught - at least since the age of seventeen when he started with twenty students at J. Frank Dobie High School in Pasadena, Texas. According to Radnofsky, he has never appreciated teaching more than he does now at the age of 46. And as any committed teacher knows, this career choice can be much more than a full-time job. Artist/teachers tend to fill their days with a dizzying mixture of teaching, performing, and administrative activities. "My career as a performer," says Radnofsky, "provides both a good model for my students, and a valuable artistic outlet for me. All told, I work a sixty-hour week, 'more and more.' After all, there are 168 hours in a week! Why do some complain about a forty-hour week? It's all part of being a teacher." James O'Dell, Chair of the Music Division at the Boston Conservatory comments on Radnofsky's devotion to his career. "At the Boston Conservatory Mr. Radnofsky is one of our most distinguished faculty artists. No one is more committed to music making and music education, and possesses a purer love of teaching. These are qualities great artist educators share, qualities that set the stage for excellence in our art and profession."

The significance and tradition of teaching music has been pondered for centuries. At the beginning of the nationally telecast 1963 concert season of the New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts, Leonard Bernstein asked, "What have teachers got to do with music? The answer is - everything. We can all imagine a painter who is self taught; a writer; but it is almost impossible to imagine a musician who doesn't owe something to one teacher or another. The trouble is, we don't always realize how important teachers are, in music or in anything else. Teaching is probably the noblest profession in the world - the most unselfish, difficult, and honorable profession. But it is also the most unappreciated, underrated, underpaid, and underpraised profession in the world."

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