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Thor Johnson
Thor Johnson - Hard to believe, but one of the first conductors, born and trained in the U.S. to lead an American orchestra.

Thor Johnson And The Boston Symphony Rehearse Mozart And Vaughan Williams – 1949 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone

Thor Johnson

Thor Johnson – Hard to believe, but one of the first conductors, born and trained in the U.S. to lead an American orchestra.

Thor Johnson, guest Conductor – Boston Symphony – in rehearsal – January 17, 1949 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Continuing historic Boston Symphony rehearsals this week with a rehearsal of the Orchestra by Thor Johnson, one of the first Conductors, born and trained in the U.S. to lead an American orchestra. Johnson was also an ardent champion of new music and was responsible for hundreds of commissions for new works. He was also one of the first American conductors to lead an American Symphony Orchestra in commercial Stereo recordings (a series done for the Remington Company comprise the first known commercial Stereo releases in the U.S.).

When Mr. Johnson was named to direct the Cincinnati Symphony in 1947, he was one of the first conductors born and trained in this country to head a major American symphony orchestra.

A Midwesterner, he studied in American music schools, organized a 17‐student orchestra at the Richard J. Reynolds High Schooi in Winston‐Salem, N.C. arid studied at. the University of North Carolina, where he was elected to Phi Beta. Kappa and received a bachelor’s d& gree

At the University ‘of Michigan ‘where Mr. Johnson studied for an M.A., he was conductor of the University of Michigan’s Little‐Symphony. He was awarded the Frank Huntington Beebe Scholarship with his degree in 1935, and this gave him two years of study abroad at the Conservatory of Music in Leipzig, at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

One of his first engagements on his return was as conductor of a Works ‘Progress Administration orchestra in Asheville N. C., after which he obtained a post as ‘anistant professor at Michigan’s school of music.

During World War II, Mr. Johnson enlisted in the Signal Corps, but was transferred to the Army ‘Music School at Fort Myer, Va.; where he became a warrant officer. band leader and organized a soldier orchestra. In 1945, he Was sent to’ England to conduct the American University Symphony Orchestra.

In July, 1946, Mr. Johnson made his first postwar appearance as conductor of the New York Philharmonic ‐ Symphony Orchestra at Lewisohn Stadium. He was named director of the Juilliard School of Music Orchestra in 1946 and the.following year became conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony, a post he held until 1967, when he was appointed conductor of the Nashville Symphony.

This recording, a broadcast rehearsal with the Boston Symphony during one of his guest conducting appearances, features Johnson rehearsing the orchestra in performances of Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 and Vaughn Williams’ Job – from January 17, 1949.


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