Philadelphia bandleader and composer Francis Johnson (1792-1844) holds a special place in the history of American music. Although he was a free African American, he lived in an age when racial segregation and prejudice were commonplace. Despite these obstacles, he was able to achieve extraordinary renown and respect among the elite of Philadelphia through performances of his band at balls, parades, and promenade concerts. As a result of a series of concert tours late in his life, Johnson's fame eventually extended through the Midwest and across the Atlantic to London. His music survives today in piano arrangements published during his lifetime, and the Otto E. Albrecht Music Library is pleased to exhibit a selection from the over forty pieces of Johnson sheet music in collection of the late Kurt Stein. The acquisition of this collection was funded, in part, by the Alfred Reginald Allen Memorial Fund of the Savoy Company
New: You may now listen to performances by pianist Tim Ribchester of music by Francis Johnson, including many of the compositions on display in the exhibit, which he performed during the reception following the exhibit opening.
Other sound clips of music on display:
Both samples performed by the Chestnut Brass Company and Friends, Tamara Brooks, conductor. From The Music of Francis Johnson & His Contemporaries. To hear more, ask for compact disc Musicm. 70292 CD, currently on reserve in the Ormandy Center (4th Floor, Van Pelt Library).