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Thomas Johnson (Composer, Arranger)

Born: 1908 - Neston, Wirral, Cheshire, England
Died: 1989 - Neston, Wirral, Cheshire, England

The English composer and teacher, Thomas (Arnold) Johnson, published his first piano pieces were published whilst he was still a schoolboy. Also whilst still at school (aged 15) he began accompanying films at the local cinema, providing the musical sound track. This lasted about five years, when the "talkies" arrived. He used Metzler's Cinema Music, and pieces by Darewski, Ewing, Haines and Ketelbey, as well as his own improvisations. He had a great love of early films and had an enormous collection of film stills in his music room at Neston. Up to the age of 20 he was self-taught, but he subsequently studied in Manchester at the Royal College of Music and obtained his teaching and performing diplomas. He made lots of radio broadcasts in the 1930's, and gave recitals. He gave the first broadcast of the Joachim Raff piano concerto. He also gave talks on music which were broadcast (e.g. in Music Magazine). The later part of his life was largely occupied in teaching the piano to private pupils.

Thomas Johnson collected sheet music and had a very large amount of material from the 1800's, including the complete published works of many minor composers. He was especially keen on J. Raff, but if you named a composer from this period, the chances were that he would have the piece you were looking for: Jensen, Hiller, Fibich, Chaminade, Godard, Moszkowski, the Scharwenkas, and so on. With the help of the Associated Board he produced decent versions of favourite pieces by minor composers. His starting point for a piece would often be a badly edited Victorian edition, long out of print, but the only version available.

Many amateur pianists will be familiar with the name Thomas Johnson, because he produced a good deal of music for learners. Much of it was for piano duet though there are solos, sight reading exercises and two-piano works ( a form which now seems to be in decline; a house containing two pianos in the same room is now a rarity).

Works (Selection)

Two Pianos:
Traditional Tunes (folktune arrangements)

Duets: One Piano:
Summer Bells
Country Pedlar
Lady of Brazil
Pachelbel Canon, arr
Rumba, dedicated to Billy Mayerl
Vicar of Bray
5 Easy Duets

Piano Solo:
Concert Waltz, unpublished
Sonata, unpublished
Themes from the concertos, arrangement
Tango & Rumba
At Eventide
Four rural sketches
Western Suite
Dawn Sunset
In the Meadows
The wanderer
In the heart of the country


Source: Diversity Website (Author: Nigel Deacon)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2007)

Thomas Arnold Johnson: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

English Composers for Amateurs: Thomas Johnson By Philip L. Scowcroft (MusicWeb)

Thomas Johnson piano music (Diversity)



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