Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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J. Bauer: ‘Edward Johnson’, Canadian Review and Musical Art, iii/7–8 (1944), 14–16

H.P. Court: ‘Edward Johnson’, Record News [Toronto], ii (1957–8), 193–202 [with discography]

N.A. Benson: ‘Edward Johnson’, Canadian Music Journal, ii (1958), 28–34

R. Mercer: The Tenor of his Time: Edward Johnson of the Met (Toronto, 1976)


Johnson, Frank [Francis}

(b ?Martinique, 1792; d Philadelphia, 6 April 1844). American composer and bandmaster. He is reputed to have settled in Philadelphia in 1809, where he won local recognition as a bandmaster, composer and performer on the keyed bugle. Later his band, which was employed by élite military companies of the city, and his dance orchestra gained a national reputation; in 1837 the band became the first such American group to give concerts in England, reputedly including a command performance for Queen Victoria. When he returned to the USA in 1838 Johnson introduced Philippe Musard’s concept of the ‘promenade concert’ to the American public. His band toured widely, playing promenade concerts chiefly consisting of Johnson’s own compositions; it also shared the concert stage in Philadelphia with eminent white artists, which was unprecedented for a black group at that time.

Johnson wrote in the conventional style and forms of his time, but according to contemporary reports the performance practices of his band were most original. His ‘remarkable taste in distorting a sentimental, simple and beautiful song into a reel, jig or country dance’ contributed to the band’s wide popularity (Waln, in Southern: Readings, p.124). An added novelty was the bandsmen’s custom of singing as they played. Johnson’s output of more than 300 pieces includes piano arrangements of the music played by his band, salon music, marches, quadrilles, other dances and sentimental ballads.


(selective list)

all printed works published in Philadelphia

Editions:Selected Works of Francis Johnson Bicentennial Edition, ed. A.R. LaBrew (Detroit, 1977)A Choice Collection of the Works of Francis Johnson, ed. C.K. Jones and L.K. Greenwich II (New York, 1983)

Inst: Bingham’s Cotillion, pf, fl/vn (c1815); A Collection of New Cotillions, pf (1818); General Cadwalader’s March, pf (c1819–20); Johnson’s New Cotillions and March, pf, tpt, bugle, drum (c1824), ed. in RRAM, ii (1977); Recognition March on the Independence of Hayti, pf, fl (c1825); Colonel C.G. Child’s Parade March, pf, tpt, keyed bugle, fl/vn (c1826); The Star Spangled Banner Cotillions, pf, cl, vn (c1828); Buffalo City Guards Parade March, pf (c1839); Victoria Galop, pf, cornet (c1839); Grand March … for the Butchers and Drovers, pf, bugle (c1842); New Bird Waltz, pf (c1844)

Vocal: If sleeping now fair maid of love (‘A Gentleman’), 1v, pf (c1822–3); O turn away those mournful eyes (Miss M.A.), 1v, pf (c1824–7); The Death of Willis (J. Tranor), 1v, pf (c1830); Voice Quadrilles, chorus, pf, cornet (c1839), repr. in BPiM, v (1977)

MSS in US-Wc, PHlc

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