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Dr. James Johnson

Professor of Music / Coordinator of Keyboard Studies
Strauss Performing Arts Center | Office 215
phone: (402) 943-8332
e-mail: jdjohnson@unomaha.edu

James Johnson has earned a distinguished international reputation through his recordings and performances with the Royal Philharmonic in London, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Prague Chamber Soloists, the Slovenian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony, and the Boston Pops. Compared in the European press to such legendary giants as Horowitz, Gilels, Kempf, and Arrau, James Johnson is a pianist of spellbinding technique, whose playing reveals "enthralling dynamic and agogic work, enormous richness of tone," (Saarbruecker Zeitung) and "a difficult-to-explain mystical quality." (Die Rheinpfalz) His performances of works of Chaminade and Dohnanyi appeared on Clavier magazine's list of "Best Recent Recordings", and his recordings of Mendelssohn and Beethoven concerti were featured as Records-of-the-Month by Musical Heritage Society. His Centaur CD, featuring works of Kabalevsky and Muczynski, was included on Bound for Sound's list of the "Best Recordings of 1991." Also active as a chamber musician, he has performed with such ensembles as the Cambridge String Quartet, the Alaska Chamber Ensemble, and the North Star Consort, praised by the New York Times for its premiers of new music.

His lineage as a pianist can be traced back to Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Beethoven through links with his teachers, Ozan and Patricia Benkman Marsh, who in turn had studied with Rachmaninoff himself, as well as with Emil von Sauer, and Ferruccio Busoni. As an organist, Dr. Johnson’s career has included performances of organ concerti with Sandor Salgo, conductorof the Carmel Bach Festival, as well as many solo recitals. His inaugural recital of the Gress-Miles organ at the University of Alaska was nationally broadcast on public radio. His English organ recital tours have included performances in London, Surrey, Essex, and Leicester Cathedral.

As an educator, Johnson was winner of the Award for Inspirational Teaching at the University of Alaska, where he taught for twenty years. In 2001 he was named winner of the Excellence in Teaching award at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. From among the ranks of his piano and organ students have come well over one hundred fifty winners of area, state, and regional competitions. In 2002, he was awarded the Robert M. Spire professorship in Music at the University of Nebraska. In 2004, he was selected as the Nebraska Music Teachers Association Teacher of the Year. In 2005, he was named as an MTNA National Foundation Fellow.

Dr. Johnson’s biography appears in Who’s Who in America, American Keyboard Artists, Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in the World and The International Who’s Who of Music and Musicians. A native of South Carolina, James Johnson earned his BM, MM and DMA degrees at the University of Arizona. Prior to his tenure at UNO, he was Professor of Music and Chairman of the Music Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Also an organist and conductor, he earned a post-doctoral MM at Westminster Choir College, as a pupil of Joan Lippincott.