James Johnson (engraver)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

James Johnson (1753?–26 Feb 1811) was a Scottish engraver, publisher and music seller known for his connection with the songbook The Scots Musical Museum and the poet Robert Burns.

Life[edit]

Johnson was born in the Ettrick Valley the third of four children to Bessie Bleck and James Johnstan, a herdsman.[1] He may have been trained to become an engraver under James Reed of Edinburgh. He was a prolific engraver of music and made the plates for over half the music printed in Scotland from 1772 tp 1790. His early engravings were done on copper and included Six Canzones for Two Voices (1772), A Collection of Favourite Scots Tunes … by the Late Mr Chs McLean and other Eminent Masters (c1772) and Twenty Minuets (1773) by Daniel Dow.[2]

In 1786 he became burgess of Edinburgh.[1]

On 2 July 1791 he married Charlotte Grant, daughter of the writer Lauchlan Grant. They had a son, James, baptised on 13 September 1792, who appears not to have survived to his majority.[1]

He opened a music shop, Johnson & Co., in 1790 in the Lawnmarket in Edinburgh which was continued after his death until 1815 as Johnson & Anderson by his apprentice John Anderson.[2]

He died in Edinburgh on 26 February 1811 and a public appeal was made for support for his widow in March 1819.[1]

The Scots Musical Museum[edit]

Main article: Scots Musical Museum

Johnson had a plan for a two-volume collection of Scottish, Irish and English songs, when he met Robert Burns. The nature of the project then changed: its scope was restricted to Scottish songs, and the number of volumes rose to six, produced from 1787 to 1803. The success of the conception was not matched by financial security for Johnson.[3] Burns contributed 184 pieces; some were original, including many of his best-known lyrics, and others were alterations of or derived from old ballads. Prefaces to some of the volumes were by Burns, who in effect edited the work. Johnson tried pewter plates to cut down the production costs.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Johnson, James (d.1811)". Dictionary of National Biography 30. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. ^ a b Frank Kidson et al.. "James Johnson", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed January 14 2014), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
  3. ^ Hunter, Richard Ian. "Johnson, James". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14890.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Johnson, James (d.1811)". Dictionary of National Biography 30. London: Smith, Elder & Co.