Graham Johnson is recognized as one of the world's leading vocal accompanists. Born in Rhodesia he came to London to study in 1967. After leaving the Royal Academy of Music his teachers included Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons. In 1972 he was the official pianist at Peter Pears's first master-classes at The Maltings, Snape, which brought him into contact with Benjamin Britten, a link which strengthened his determination to accompany. 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, Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Richard Jackson, artists with whom he has established long and fruitful collaborations both on the concert platform and in the recording studio. Some two hundred and fifty Songmakers' programmes have been presented over the years.
Graham Johnson has accompanied such distinguished singers as Sir Thomas Allen, Victoria de los Angeles, Elly Ameling, Arleen Auger, Brigitte Fassbaender, Matthias Goerne, Thomas Hampson, Simon Keenlyside, Philip Langridge, Serge Leiferkus, Edith Mathis, Lucia Popp, Christoph Prégardien, Dame Margaret Price, Dorothea Röschmann, Peter Schreier, Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Sarah Walker. His relationship with the Wigmore Hall is a special one. He devised and accompanied concerts in the hall's re-openingseries in 1994, and in its centenary celebrations in 2001. He has been chairman of the jury for the Wigmore Hall Song Competition since its inception. He is Senior Professor of Accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music and has led a biennial scheme for Young Songmakers since 1985. His achievements include the devising and accompaniment of a set of complete Schubert Lieder on 37 discs for Hyperion Records, to be followed by a complete Schumann series, and there is an ongoing French song series to include the complete songs of such composers as Chausson, Chabrier and Fauré. All these discs are issued with Graham Johnson's own programme notes. He has also recorded for Sony, BMG, Harmonia Mundi, Forlane, EMI and DGG. Awards include the Gramophone solo vocal award in 1989 (with Dame Janet Baker), 1996 (Die schöne Müllerin with Ian Bostridge), 1997 (for the inauguration of the Schumann series with Christine Schäfer), and 2001 (with Magdalena Kozena). He was The Royal Philharmonic Society's Instrumentalist of the Year in 1998. 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 and The French Song Companion for Oxford University Press. He was made an OBE in the 1994 Queen's Birthday Honours list, and in 2002 he was created Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Government.