Graham Johnson is recognised as one of the world’s leading vocal accompanists. Studying at the Royal Academy of Music, London, his teachers included Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons. In 1972 he was the official pianist at Peter Pears’ first masterclasses at Snape Maltings, which brought him into contact with Benjamin Britten. In 1976 he formed the Songmakers Almanac to explore neglected areas of piano-accompanied vocal music; the founder singers were Dame Felicity Lott, Ann Murray DBE, Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Richard Jackson.
His relationship with the Wigmore Hall is unique, devising and accompanying concerts in the hall’s re-opening series in 1992 and in its centenary celebrations in 2001. He is Senior Professor of Accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music and has led a biennial scheme for Young Songmakers since 1985. For Hyperion Records, he has devised and accompanied a set of complete Schubert lieder on 37 discs and a complete Schumann series. There is an ongoing French Song series all issued with his own programme notes and two solo recital discs with Alice Coote. Awards include the Gramophone solo vocal award in 1989 (Dame Janet Baker), 1996 (Die schone Müllerin, Ian Bostridge), 1997 (Schumann series, Christine Schäfer) and 2001 (Magdalena Kozena). He was The Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year in 1998 and in June 2000, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
He is author of The Songmakers’ Almanac; Twenty years of recitals in London, The French Song Companion (2000), The Vocal Music of Benjamin Britten (2003), Gabriel Fauré – the Songs and their Poets (2009) and Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs (2014). His latest book, Poulenc – The Life in the Songs, was published in August 2020.
Graham Johnson was made an OBE (1994), created Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et Lettres (2002), Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society (2010), and awarded the Wigmore Hall Medal (2013). He received Honorary Doctorates from Durham University, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Edith Cowan University Western Australia. He was awarded the Hugo Wolf Medal (2014) for his services to the art of song and Germany’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2021).