Cohler studied clarinet with Boston Symphony Orchestra clarinetists Pasquale Cardillo and Harold Wright, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra clarinetist Karl Leister, clarinet soloist Charles Neidich and Frank Martin.
In 1978, he won a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center. He also held the principal clarinet position of the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra (now known as the National Repertory Orchestra) in 1979 under conductor Carl Topilow.
Cohler has toured the United States, Europe, South-east Asia and Latin America, and performed at many North American festivals including those of Tanglewood, Aspen, Rockport, Newport, Martha's Vineyard and the Hamptons. He has performed frequently at the International Clarinet Association's annual ClarinetFest and has appeared in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago. His concerto appearances include Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with the Santo Andre Orchestra in Brazil and Copland's Clarinet Concerto with the Evergreen Orchestra at the National Concert Hall of Taiwan in Taipei.
As a chamber musician Cohler has collaborated with members of the Emerson String Quartet, the Muir String Quartet, the Lark Quartet, the Claremont Trio, the Moscow Conservatory Trio, the Amadeus Trio, the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, the Boston Chamber Music Society and The Wavehill Trio, and with Boris Berezovsky, Ilya Kaler, Andres Diaz, Charles Neidich, Laurence Lesser, Randall Hodgkinson, Judith Gordon, and Rasa Vitkauskaite.
Cohler's conducting engagements have included Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela, and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker with the Indian Hill Orchestra (Groton, Massachusetts) and the Granite State Ballet Company in New Hampshire, and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra with the Texas All-State Symphony Orchestra in San Antonio. For ten years, from 1996 to 2006, he was the Music Director of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. He is currently the Music Director of the Massachusetts Philharmonic Orchestra.
Cohler has coached groups that have won prizes in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Coleman Chamber Music Competition and the Chamber Music Foundation of New England Competition. Groups he has coached have also appeared on the national radio show From the Top.
Cohler has been an adjudicator for international clarinet and music competitions including the 1st European Clarinet Competition, the Young Artist Competition of the International Clarinet Association, and the Canadian National Music Competition.
As of 2011, he is a member of the clarinet, chamber music and conducting faculties of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Boston Conservatory, and the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he is the Assistant Conductor of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. He also teaches and coaches through his Advanced Chamber Music Institute in Boston, and ran the International Woodwind Festival summer school in Iowa.
In the early 1990s, Cohler founded the classical music record company Ongaku Records, Inc. As well as publishing Cohler's own recordings of chamber music, it has also released CDs of other instrumentalists, such as Tchaikovsky Competition gold-medal violinist Ilya Kaler, Tchaikovsky Competition silver-medal cellist Suren Bagratuni and the pianist Sergey Schepkin.
- Cohler on Clarinet – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Judith Gordon (piano) (1993). Ongaku Records CD 024-101 (listed in The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs Yearbook 2006/7: Best Buys in Classical Music)
- More Cohler on Clarinet – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Randall Hodgkinson (piano). (1994). Ongaku Records CD 024-102 (listed in The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs Yearbook 2006/7: Best Buys in Classical Music)
- Brahms Clarinet Sonatas – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Judith Gordon (piano), Randall Hodgkinson (piano) (1994). Cover CD, BBC Music Magazine, October 1994
- Moonflowers, Baby! – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Judith Gordon (piano) (1994). Crystal Records CD 733 (MusicWeb International "Recording of the Month", Oct 2010)
- The Clarinet Alone – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet) (1995). Ongaku Records CD 024-105 (nominated for a NAIRD 1995 Indie Award in the classical solo category)
- David Alpher: American Reflections – David Alpher (composer and piano), Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Maureen Gallagher (viola), Robert Honeysucker (baritone), Myron Lutzke (cello), Robert Lynam (string bass), Martha Moor (harp), Jean Newton (harpsichord), Kenneth Radnofsky (tenor saxophone) (1999). Ongaku Records CD 024-112
- Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Ilya Kaler (violin), Andrew Mark (cello), Janice Weber (piano) (2004). Ongaku Records CD 024-119
- Rhapsodie Française – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Rasa Vitkauskaite (piano) (2008). Ongaku Records CD 024-121
- Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio – Jonathan Cohler (clarinet), Claremont Trio (2009). Ongaku Records CD 024-122 (awarded the "Critic's Choice" by BBC Music Magazine)
- Morin, Alexander J. (2002). Classical music: the listener's companion. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 1156. ISBN 978-0-87930-638-0. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
- Vitkauskaite, Rasa (2011). "Lithuanian Music Performers' Information Centre". Lithuanian Music Performers' Information Centre. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
- "Plano Independent School District Press Release" (PDF). Plano ISD Fine Arts Department. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Massey, Joanna (11 December 2003). "Brockton Enjoys Crescendo of Success". The Boston Globe. p. 8. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- "History of Fischoff Winners". Fischoff Competition Program. 38th Annual. May 2011.
- Pfeifer, Ellen (10 May 2005). "NEC Prep Students Triumph at Fischoff Competition". Musical America Worldwide. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "Vento Chiaro biography". Vento Chiaro. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "Festivus Quartet - 2006 ICMEC Grand Prize Winner". Chamber Music Foundation of New England. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "From the Top Show 236 Rockport, Massachusetts: Formation Quartet". From the Top. 4 June 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "From the Top Show 160 Boston, Massachusetts: Elysium String Quartet". From the Top. 23 May 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "From the Top Show 142 Granville, Ohio: Festivus Quartet". From the Top. 6 April 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "From the Top Show 115 Southborough, Massachusetts: Sarquindi Quartet". From the Top. 10 April 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "1st European Clarinet Competition (Kortrijk, Belgium)" (PDF). European Clarinet Association. November 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Koons, Keith (December 2009). "The 2009 I.C.A. Young Artist Competition". The Clarinet (International Clarinet Association) 37 (1): 80.
- "Jonathan Cohler's bio page on Longy website". Longy School of Music. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- "Jonathan Cohler's bio on the Boston Conservatory website". The Boston Conservatory. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Website of the Advanced Chamber Music Institute
- Website for 2010 International Woodwind Festival
- Kaplan, Richard (March/April 2009)."Jonathan Cohler's Ongaku Records—More than a 'Clarinet Label'", Fanfare Magazine, Vol. 32, Issue 4. Retrieved 29 September 2011 (subscription required)
- Ongaku Records Inc. list of releases
- March, Ivan et al. (December 2006). The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs Yearbook 2006/7: Best Buys in Classical Music. Penguin. pp. 525-526. ISBN 0141027231
- Jameson, Michael. "Review: Cohler on Clarinet". BBC Music Magazine. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- Barfoot, Terry. "Review: More Cohler on Clarinet". BBC Music Magazine. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
- Ledeniov, Oleg (October 2010). "Review: Moonflowers, Baby!". MusicWeb International. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "NAIRD's '95 Indie Awards Nominees". Billboard. 11 May 1996. p. 50. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
- Shenton, Andrew (2008). "Towards a 'manner of realization' for Messiaen's music" in Robert Sholl (ed.) Messiaen Studies, pp, 185-187. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-83981-5
- Josenhans, Thomas (June 2009). "Rhapsodie Francaise". The Clarinet (Review) (International Clarinet Association) 36 (3): 74–75.
- Burton, Anthony (May 2009). "Review: Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio". BBC Music Magazine (BBC MUSIC CHOICE) 17 (9): 89.