Francis Johnson: Music Master of Early Philadelphia


Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., Associate Professor of Music, University of Pennsylvania, delivers a lecture on Francis Johnson (1792-1844), Philadelphia band leader and composer. Johnson holds a special place in the history of American music. Although 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. Following 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. The lecture marked the opening of an exhibition in the Otto E. Albrecht Music Library. The exhibition included a selection from the over forty pieces of Johnson sheet music in the collection of the late Kurt Stein. Also part of the exhibition were prints, period newspaper articles, and a Kent bugle like that favored by Johnson. To download a podcast of the lecture, select one of the additional files below. Welcome, H. Carton Rogers, 00-04:52 Introduction, Richard Griscom, 04:52-13:06 Lecture, Guthrie P. Ramsay, Jr., 13:15-37:27 The event announcement is also available for download, by selecting the download button, at upper right. The exhibition is available in an online version, at:

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A lecture delivered on April 10, 2008 in the Rosenwald Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, University of Pennsylvania. The lecture accompanied the opening of the exhibition, "Francis Johnson: Music Master of Early Philadelphia," in the Eugene Ormandy Gallery, 4th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. Total time: 37:27.
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