Johannesen, Grant 1921-2005

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Johannesen, Grant 1921-2005


Born July 30, 1921, in Salt Lake City, UT; died March 27, 2005, in Berlin, Germany; married Helen Taylor (a composer), 1943 (died 1950); married Zara Nelsova (a cellist), 1963 (marriage dissolved, 1973); children: (first marriage) David Johannesen. Education: Attended Princeton University, 1941-46, and Cornell University.


Pianist, composer, writer, and editor. Toured Europe with Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, 1956-57, and with the Cleveland Orchestra, 1968; Aspen Music School, Aspen, CO, music teacher, 1960-66; Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, OH, music consultant and adviser, 1973, music director, 1974-77, president, 1977-1985. Also taught at the Mannes College of Music, New York, NY, and at the Salzburg Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria. Also toured extensively as a solo artist or performing with local symphonies, including in the Soviet Union in 1962 and 1970, Israel, Europe, and South America. Made numerous recordings.


Ostend Concours Internationale, 1949; Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France; honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Utah and the Cleveland Institute of Music.


(Arranger) Francis Poulenc, Les Animaux Modeles = The Model Animals: Suite for Piano, Max Eschig (Paris, France), 1984.

(Arranger) Sergei Prokofiev, Fragments: For Piano Duet, International Music (New York, NY), 1991.

(Editor) Gabriel Fauré, Ballade for Piano, Opus 19, International Music (New York, NY), 1993.

Journey of an American Pianist (memoir), foreword by David Taylor Johannesen, University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 2007.


Grant Johannesen was a world-renowned pianist who made his concert debut in 1944 in New York and won first prize at the Ostend Concours Internationale in 1949. From there he went on to tour the world, both with orchestras and as a solo artist. Considered the first important American pianist to emerge after World War II, Johannesen also served as president of the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1977 to 1985. In an Associated Press article on the Andante Web site, composer Crawford Gates was quoted as saying: "He was one of the most marvelous pianists of the century, in the United States and the world." In an obituary in the Deseret Morning News, Roger Miller, a University of Utah music professor, was quoted as saying: "He was just an extremely intelligent and refined musician. His sense of line, his formal structural approach to music and warm, intimate way of playing was extraordinary." In his memoir, Journey of an American Pianist, which was published posthumously, Johannesen takes readers from his childhood and education in Utah, to his early career and study in Europe and New York, to his growing reputation as a pianist and his worldwide performances. He also writes of his two marriages and his role as a teacher.



Johannesen, Grant, Journey of an American Pianist, foreword by David Taylor Johannesen, University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 2007.


High Fidelity, December, 1986, Herbert Kupferberg, "Grant Johannesen," p. 8.

New York Times, February 2, 1981, Edward Rothstein, "Pianist: Grant Johannesen Plays Schumann, Schubert, and Faure"; August 24, 1985, Allen Hughes, "Concert: Grant Johannesen"; May 10, 2003, Greg Retsinas, "David W. Rubin, 83; Matched Pianists with Their Instruments" p. A22.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2007, review of Journey of an American Pianist.


Jackson Symphony Web site, (April 24, 2993), "Grant Johannesen; Piano Soloist."

Marriott Library, University of Utah Web site, (January 30, 2008), biography of author.

Meridian Magazine, (January 30, 2008), brief profile of author.



America's Intelligence Wire, March 28, 2005, "Pianist Grant Johannesen Dies in Berlin at 83"; March 29, 2005, "Pianist Grant Johannesen, Known for Performances of Music by French Composers, Dies."

Deseret Morning News (Deseret, Utah), March 28, 2005, Rebecca C. Howard, "Grant Johannesen, Famed Pianist from Utah, dies at 83."

Independent (London, England), April 30, 2005, "Mormon Pianist Who Specialised in Fauré."

New York Times, March 30, 2005, "Grant Johannesen, Unorthodox Pianist, Is Dead at 83"; April 5, 2005, "Paid Notice: Deaths; Johannesen, Grant"; April 6, 2005, "Paid Notice: Deaths; Johannesen, Grant"; April 7, 2005, "Paid Notice: Deaths; Johannesen, Grant."


Andante, (March 29, 2005), "Pianist Grant Johannesen, 83, Has Died in Berlin."

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Johannesen, Grant 1921-2005

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