Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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Johnston, Thomas

(b Boston, 1708; d Boston, 8 May 1767). American organ builder, music engraver, craftsman and musician. In 1739 he led the singing in the Brattle Street Church, Boston, and was paid for singing in King's Chapel in 1754–6. He was active as an ornamental painter and japanner, and as an engraver of maps, certificates, trade cards, music etc.; he is also regarded as Boston's first professional organ builder. He is recorded as having tuned and repaired some of the imported English organs in Boston, which presumably served as his only textbook in the craft of organ building. In 1744 Johnston made repairs to a small English organ in Christ Church (Old North Church), Boston, and he later tuned the three-manual Richard Bridge organ imported by King's Chapel in 1756, which appears to have been the model for the two-manual organ he built for Christ Church in 1759. Other organs he is known to have built were for St Peter's Church, Salem, Massachusetts (1754), the Concert Hall, Boston (c1755, later moved to King's Church, Providence, Rhode Island), and St John's Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire (1760); he also made some chamber organs.

In 1758 Johnston engraved and published his Rules to Learn to Sing, and Hymns, containing 68 hymns set in three parts. He also brought out two editions (?1759, 1764) of Thomas Walter's The Grounds and Rules of Music (first published in Boston, 1721) and in 1766 a newly engraved version of Daniel Bayley's A New and Complete Introduction (Newbury, Massachusetts, 1764). Johnston's son Benjamin (1740–1818) and son-in-law Daniel Rea jr worked with him and succeeded him after his death; Benjamin engraved music (including William Billings's Music in Miniature), and both are recorded as having repaired musical instruments.

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