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Francis Johnson, African-American composer

Jack Campin 23 Mar 19 - 10:54 AM
Jack Campin 24 Mar 19 - 04:14 PM
Stringsinger 26 Mar 19 - 01:25 PM
leeneia 26 Mar 19 - 07:51 PM
Donuel 29 Mar 19 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 31 Mar 19 - 04:55 PM
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Subject: Francis Johnson, Afro-American composer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Mar 19 - 10:54 AM

I was in Paris last week and found a CD of music that was entirely new to me: "The Music of Francis Johnson", Music Masters CD 7028-2-C / D 193198, 1990, performed by the Chestnut Brass Company, a band using early 19th century instruments. Johnson (1792-1844) was an African-American bandleader/arranger/composer who wrote a lot of dances and marches in the popular idiom of the time and was remarkably successful. His music is all lost in its band form but survives in piano reductions - the Chestnut people reconstructed band arrangements, easier than usual since the piano scores contain frequent hints to say which instrument is taking a solo. They had their arrangements for sale.

Here's one not on the CD, in a version for flute and piano with hints for a band scoring:

Recognition March for the Independance of Hayti

This seems like a repertoire waiting wider exploitation. It's quite different from the somewhat later stufff the Carolina Chocolate Drops did.


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Subject: RE: Francis Johnson, African-American composer
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Mar 19 - 04:14 PM

I had a further look, and it seems the Chestnut Brass Company were pretty darn good researchers. Hardly any of the tunes on their CD are in the Lester Levy collection. One oddity I looked for was a "Valse a cinq temps" by A.J.R.Conner, maybe the first 5-time waltz published anywhere - no trace.

Anybody here know more? This looks like Jim Dixon's field.


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Subject: RE: Francis Johnson, African-American composer
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Mar 19 - 01:25 PM

It seems reminiscent of the music of James Reese Europe, another African-American
composer of band music.

I'll bet there were many more African-American composers who were not as well known particularly with the prejudices common to that period of history.

It would make a great recording.


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Subject: RE: Francis Johnson, African-American composer
From: leeneia
Date: 26 Mar 19 - 07:51 PM

Thanks for the information. This is good to know.


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Subject: RE: Francis Johnson, African-American composer
From: Donuel
Date: 29 Mar 19 - 09:04 AM

Florence Price was a AA symphonic composer who commanded all the bells whistles and chimes. Her symphoney #1 was strong


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Subject: RE: Francis Johnson, African-American composer
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 31 Mar 19 - 04:55 PM

"African-American"

Minor correction. Johnson was born and raised a French citizen (Martinique.) Didn't move to the land of "African-American" proper until he was in his late teens.

Love me some of that old school quadrille. Good stuff.


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