Bryan Johanson, Composer


Born and raised in Portland, Bryan Johanson is a classical guitarist who is an award-winning composer. He has won major awards from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival and School, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, UCLA and The Esztergom International Guitar Festival. Johanson studied composition with Charles Jones and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom. Johanson's compositions feature three symphonies, concertos for violin, cello and piano, numerous chamber works, song cycles and choral works, as well as compositions for solo instruments including the classical guitar. Bryan has studied with the likes of Christopher Parkening, Alirio Diaz, and Michael Lorimer and has performed with orchestras, chamber music groups, choirs, and in solo recitals throughout the United States and Canada. He is a member of the Oregon Guitar Quartet, a group for which he has created numerous original compositions and arrangements. He currently lives in Portland with his wife Victoria and daughter Molly.

About Essercizi:

My piece for solo piano is based the Sonatas of the great Italian baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti.  The work would be in several movements and would reference the paired sonata concept that Scarlatti often employed. Specifically, I would like to reference his pair K. 208 and K. 209.  In this particular pair, both in A major, Scarlatti creates one of his most lyrical slow sonatas followed by one of his most spirited.  In my own composition I would create a two-movement work that builds on the same architecture.  While the harmonic and melodic language would be my own, the approach to the keyboard would be based on Scarlatti’s own model.

Artist Statement  

As a composer, one of the most inspiring careers was that of Domenico Scarlatti.  His output during the bulk of his lifetime has almost exclusively been lost.  Nearly all of the music written before 1752 is lost.  At age sixty-seven, at the request of his employer Queen Maria Barbara of Spain, he began to compose a series of keyboard exercises that would forever secure his lasting fame.  While the music he wrote prior to this period showed a credible composer, the 555 Sonatas from the last seven years of his life introduce us to a genius that was unmatched in both his invention and mastery.  By the time Scarlatti began work on his musical legacy, Johann Sebastian Bach had been dead for two years.  The baroque age was nearly at an end.  Scarlatti, isolated in his apartment in the outskirts of Madrid, is a figure of inspiration to me.  His music has been a lifetime source of enlightenment and enjoyment and it is my desire to harness that inspiration to create a work that reflects his magnetic influence over my own compositional process.