He studied with Simeon Bellison, a notable clarinetist for the New York Philharmonic. He left New York for Los Angeles during the Great Depression, after Otto Klemperer, then music director of the Philharmonic.
Bloch was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) for his and his wife's (artist Frances Bloch's) progressive activities in Southern California after WWII. He refused to name names, instead telling the committee that he "simply believed in humanity." He was refused travel rights for the Philharmonic's world tour that same year.
Bloch lived and taught in his home and studio in the Franklin Hills neighborhood of Los Feliz. He also taught clarinet at Pomona College and Cal State Fullerton and wrote several books on symphonic repertoire for clarinet. Until his death in 2009 he was an active teacher and member of the Los Feliz Woodwind Ensemble along with famed member of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Bunk Gardner. He also played for conductors Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky upon their move to Los Angeles along with many other artists and intellectuals during Hitler's reign in Europe.
Kalman Bloch is related through his wife Frances (died 2000) to violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz.
His son, Gregory Bloch (died 1989) played violin and mandolin for It's a Beautiful Day, the 1970s prog-rock band String Cheese, the progressive Italian rock group Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) from 1975–1978, and the Saturday Night Live Orchestra in 1978, Country/comedy show group Montezuma's Revenge 1980-1983, Formed Jazz group Django 1983-84 with former members of Montezuma's Revenge.
His daughter, Michele Zukovsky, is currently the principal clarinetist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During his tenure with the orchestra they shared the chair and played together for many years under, most notably, Zubin Mehta, now conductor of the Israeli Philharmonic.
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