New York Philomusica

Did you know?

New York Philomusica was the first chamber ensemble to create a composer-in-residency program, called Featured Composer (1971).

New York Philomusica Firsts

Founder / Artistic Director

Robert Johnson

A. Robert Johnson is the Founder, Artistic Director, and horn player of New York Philomusica. After graduation from The Juilliard School in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, he played one year in the National Symphony of Washington, DC, before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the Seventh Army Symphony and Chamber Ensemble, based in Europe, for the duration of his duty in the army. Subsequently, Leonard Bernstein selected him to be a member of the New York Philharmonic, where he performed for seven years. During his after hours, he took the opportunity to expand his musical reach through chamber music. He met and played with future New York Philomusica collaborators, Isidore Cohen and Felix Galimir, during two summers (1964 and 1965) at the Marlboro Festival, then under the direction of Rudolph Serkin.

He founded New York Philomusica in 1971, following a succession of attempts that began with a hugely successful debut in the first Mozart Festival of 1966. His eventual success with the New York Philomusica has resulted in an ensemble renowned for finding the hidden beauties of the repertory and bringing them to life through recordings, national and international tours, and as a fixture on the New York musical scene through its subscription series. Mr. Johnson has performed extensively with the legendary jazz pianist Sir Roland Hanna in the Roland Hanna Trio, with Sir Roland as cellist and Frank Wess alternating on flute with Frank Perowsky. The trio made a tour of Japan in 1989. Until his death in late 2002, Sir Roland maintained a collaborative association with New York Philomusica. Unique Collaborations

In addition to playing the horn, Mr. Johnson’s other musical pursuits include composing and conducting. He owns de Neveu Publishing. Compositions and orchestrations by him include joint efforts with noted author and journalist George Plimpton. Mr. Johnson performed in the longest running show in Broadway history, Cats, from the opening to its close, a run of 18 years. He played in the orchestra of many shows running through the 1970's, including those by Stephen Sondheim and Sugar Babies, in which Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney starred. Mr. Johnson was recently appointed the official delegate to the United Nations for the National Federation of Music Clubs, an organization with which he has been an active collaborator for many years. Throughout these many varied activities, New York Philomusica has remained Mr. Johnson’s central interest.

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