The Royal Philharmonic Society is one of the two oldest music societies in the world. It was formed on 24 January 1813 with the aim ‘to promote the performance, in the most perfect manner possible of the best and most approved instrumental music’, which it did principally by giving regular public orchestral concerts in London. At that time there were no permanent orchestras in London nor any organised series of chamber music concerts. The RPS continued to give orchestral concerts through two world wars.
The first Honory Member was Carl Maria von Weber in 1826. Mendelssohn and Rossini followed soon after continuing with every important compser you can think of: Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Strauss through to Ligeti are all there. Performers such as Casals and Fischer-Dieskau, and conductors Hans Richter and Pierre Boulez. But there is only one other accompanist amongst the recipients, Graham Johnson’s own mentor, Gerald Moore.
The award to Johnson was made
in recognition of his unstinting championing of Song and extraordinary achievements on the concert platform and in the recording studio. He founded the Songmakers’ Almanac in 1976 to explore neglected areas of piano-accompanied vocal music and to provide an alternative to the conventional song recital and has continued to illuminate this area of music with passion and erudition. His fine programme and sleeve notes have greatly added to the wider understanding and interest in Song over the last 30 years and a wonderful discography includes outstanding recordings of the complete songs of both Schubert and Schumann for Hyperion.”
The certificate of Honorary Membership was presented to Graham by John Gilhooly, Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society and Director of Wigmore Hall at a concert featuring Graham and baritone Christopher Maltman performing Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin at Wigmore Hall on Wednesday 8 December.