Fergus Johnston

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Fergus Johnston (born 21 May 1959) is an Irish composer and member of Aosdána.

Life and career[edit]

Johnston was born in Dublin and studied for both a degree in music and a master's degree in Music and Media Technology at Trinity College Dublin (MusB 1982). He also has a PhD in composition from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Initially he had also studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin (flute with Doris Keogh, clarinet with Tim Hanafin, and composition with James Wilson). In 1985 he was invited by the European Community Youth Orchestra to write an orchestral piece under the guidance of György Ligeti. 1989-91 he was Chairman of the Association of Irish Composers. He completed his education with the English composer Robert Hanson.

Johnston's output includes works for both orchestra and smaller ensembles, some works of which include electronics, and two operas. His music has been performed at many venues and festivals including the 1985 Asolo Musica Festival in Italy, the 1996 International Society for Contemporary Music Festival, the 2001 Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music in Belfast,[1] and Raidió Teilifís Éireann's 2005 Living Music Festival. His use of system is unusual among Irish composers, his compositional process typically including a significant element of pre-planning.[2]

Selected works[edit]


  • Samsara, performed by Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra, Tsanko Delibosov (cond), on: Vienna Modern Masters VMM 3035 (CD, 1996).
  • Kaleidophone, performed by Concorde, on: Contemporary Music Centre CD02 (promotional CD, 1997).
  • Je goûte le jeu ..., performed by Irish Chamber Orchestra, Fionnuala Hunt (cond), on: Black Box Music BBM 1013 (CD, 1998).
  • Árd Fhearta; Carn; Signals; Samsara, performed by Reamonn Keary (pf), Shirin Goudarze-Tobin & Frantisek Jaros (vn), Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra, Tsanko Delibosov (cond), on: Monumental Music MOMU 014 (CD, 2001).
  • Three Bulgarian Pieces, performed by Vox 21, on: RTÉ lyric fm CD 123 (CD, 2009).
  • Piano Trio, performed by Fidelio Trio, on: Metier MSV 28556 (CD, 2015).

Honours and awards[edit]

  • 1989 – Macaulay Fellowship, Arts Council of Ireland
  • 1992 – Elected to Aosdána, Ireland's Academy of Arts.
  • 1996-2001 - Appointed as member of the Board of Directors of the National Concert Hall of Ireland, An Ceoláras Náisiúnta.


  1. ^ Computer Music Journal, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Winter, 2001), p. 15.
  2. ^ David Bremner in The Encyclopeedia of Music in Ireland, ed. H. White & B. Boydell, Dublin: UCD Press, 2013, p. 544.
  3. ^ See CMC feature: https://www.cmc.ie/features/earl-kildare-fergus-johnston


External links[edit]