Graham Johnson is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading vocal accompanists and is Senior Professor of Accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Born in Rhodesia, he came to London to study in 1967. His teachers included Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons. In 1976 he formed the Songmakers’ Almanac to explore neglected areas of piano-accompanied vocal music; the founder singers were Felicity Lott, Ann Murray, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson and Richard Jackson. Over a career of thirty years, Graham Johnson has also accompanied such distinguished singers as Sir Thomas Allen, Victoria de los Angeles, Elly Ameling, Arleen Auger, Brigitte Fassbaender, Matthias Goerne, Thomas Hampson, Simon Keenlyside, Philip Langridge, Serge Leiferkus, Marjana Lipovsek, Edith Matthis, Jessye Norman, Eva Podles, Lucia Popp, Christophe Prégardien, Margaret Price, Dorothea Röschmann, Peter Schreier, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Adrian Thompson, and Sarah Walker.
Apart from devising and accompanying some two hundred and fifty Songmakers’ programmes for London audiences, he has presented a number of recital cycles in other world centres. He has been Song Advisor to the Wigmore Hall Song Competition since its inception. He is author of The Songmakers’ Almanac; Twenty Years of Recitals in London and The French Song Companion for OUP (2000).
For Hyperion Records, Graham Johnson has devised and accompanied a set of the complete Schubert Lieder on 37 discs, a milestone in the history of recording. A complete Schumann series is underway, and there is an ongoing French Song series. All these discs are issued with Graham Johnson’s own extensive annotations which set new standards for CD programme notes. Awards include the Gramophone solo vocal award in 1989 (with Janet Baker); 1996 Die schöne Müllerin (with Ian Bostridge); 1997 for the first of the Schumann series (with Christine Schäfer) and in 2001 (with Magdalena Kozena). The Royal Philharmonic Society made him Instrumentalist of the Year in 1998; in 2001 he was awarded the Ehrenpreis of the Klavierfest Ruhr in recognition of his ongoing Lieder project in Herten; in June 2000 he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He was made an OBE in the 1994 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
In April 2013 Graham Johnson was awarded the Wigmore Hall Medal “in recognition of his unstinting championing of Song and his extraordinary achievements on the concert platform and in the recording studio.” The Wigmore Hall Medal, inaugurated in 2007, recognizes major international artists and significant figures in the classical music world.