The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CX, No. 7/8July, 2010

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. E-mail letters to or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words.


The music preparation community was deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Bert Kosow, a friend, teacher and mentor to many of us.

Bert was a founding member and past president of the American Society of Music Copyists. Always generous with his advice and time, his impeccable work was the gold standard of music copying in the age before computers.

His deep respect for the art of music notation was passed along to countless students who attended his Saturday morning classes.

His wife Wilma writes that although he fought cancer for 12 years, he was determined to enjoy every minute of what life had to offer, which comes as no surprise to those of us who knew him.

He will be remembered.

–Art Koenig
The writer is the chair of the Local 802 Copyists Committee

Bert was the most passionate advocate for the art of music copying and he cared enough to pass along his knowledge and skills to so many of us. Bert taught me practically everything I know about hand copying music, which I did every day until my switch to computer copying in 1997.

I, like many other New York professionals, took his class which was held at the old Associated Music on West 54th Street. They had a very large blackboard with three music staves etched on it and he drew all his musical examples on it. Later, Judy Haring passed that blackboard along to me and it is now hanging in my office. We write on it constantly, only now it holds pithy remarks heard around the office, rather than bearing Bert’s elegant musical manuscript.

Ed Greig relates the following story to us – and we all second this observation. While working in a room full of copyists, even on a screamingly tight deadline, if someone asked a question about music prep – technique, history, union issues – Bert would not just give a fleeting answer, but would put the cap on his pen, set the pen on his desk, and begin to expound on the subject, until what felt like several hours later when he’d exhausted the subject (and maybe his listeners, too). Invariably, the supervising copyist would harangue the group to get back to work, but it was only when the pen cap was removed again that we could do so.

He was a great teacher, a fine colleague, and he will be missed.

–Emily Grishman

Bert Kosow’s classes in music copying and his enthusiasm and love for the work he did inspired an entire generation of hand copyists. His knowledge and technique helped refine my personal skills to the level of being ready to work in the mainstream of music preparation as a full time career.

I’m forever grateful to have been influenced by him.

–Steve Danenberg
The writer is the Music Prep Administrator for Local 802.

Bert served for many years as the president of the American Society of Music Copyists, a professional organization that, while not a union committee, both participated in and served in an advisory capacity to Local 802 officials for negotiations. Because of the depth and breadth of his knowledge, he was an invaluable and tireless advocate for the music copying community.

Bert was also a long-time member of the Art Students League. Art was another of the great passions in his life, but the only work I ever saw was his annual Christmas card — a different illustration each year with a deadline-beleaguered copyist as the subject.

As one of the numerous New York music copyists who took Bert’s class at the old Associated Music, it’s impossible to overstate how important his integrity and passion about classic music notation was in shaping the foundation of my and others’ copying profession.

He will be sorely missed.

–Kathie Edmonds

The first time I met Bert was in the late 1950’s when we both were breaking into studio work, I as a woodwind doubler and he as a copyist. He was spending much time becoming one of the most sought-after copyists on the New York scene. Bert flourished at a time when copying was done by hand. In the 1960’s and 70’s, good studio results also depended on great copyists.

Webster’s definition of the word “calligrapher” – professional copyist – one who writes a beautiful hand — certainly pertains to Bert’s work.

–Wally Kane

Bert Kosow was a magnificent copyist. He worked with the finest composers, including Leonard Bernstein and Alec Wilder. He was a magnificent teacher – he taught the art to a lot of the present-day copyists. We worked together in the same copying office — Ideal Reproduction Services — that we founded with Hal Miles. We would come to each other’s help if a project needed it, and I was proud to ask for his advice. He was also a magnificent pen-and-ink artist. He would send us all Christmas cards each year with his own art.

–Bernard Fox

Bert was constantly engaged as a freelance music copyist by the busiest music copyist supervisors in New York City. His work was meticulous. He began to acquire many clients of his own and soon became a very successful music copyist supervisor in his own right. He supervised the music copying for TV, jingles, movies, Broadway, orchestras, composers of all kinds, and – last but not least – countless up-and-coming artists.

Through the years, Bert worked endlessly to improve the working conditions and wages of professional music copyists. He developed a course of study for the art of music copying and was able to teach others his craft.

Bert was so proud of his family, his profession and his ability to tell a story.

He was also a member of the Arts Students League and was proud of his own artwork. Each December, an original cartoon greeting card, drawn by Bert, would be delivered to his musical friends sharing his thoughts – always funny – or sharing his whereabouts at the time. Each card was priceless.

We have lost a good guy.

–Larry Abel


jeff Tillman, we’ll miss you. We’ll miss your creative musicianship. We’ll miss playing with you, but most of all we will miss your kind, thoughtful ways…your great perception of life and living a life of truth and integrity. That was Jeff.

In the 1980’s, the three of us were a trio and we would get together to rehearse. Before we played a note, we would find ourselves chatting for two hours and listening to Jeff’s in-depth analysis and thoughts on living a life and playing our music with integrity and love.

Jeff Tillman – you will always be in our thoughts. We love you and we’ll miss you.

–Howie Tavin and Don Stein