Jonathan Cohen (musician)

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Jonathan Cohen is a British pianist, composer and musical director.[1][2]

He is particularly known for his work on many BBC children's programmes from the 1960s to the 1990s, including Play School, Playbus (latterly Playdays), Play Away, Rentaghost and Jackanory. He frequently appeared as a pianist on programmes such as Play Away and also presented some of the musical items.

In the latter part of his career he became heavily involved with programmes for BBC Schools co-presenting Music Time with Helen Speirs. This was a popular, long-running series aimed at primary school children that focused on teaching singing and instrumentation. First broadcast in 1970, it was presented by Cohen from 1983 until the final series in 1991. He also had prominent roles on several other BBC Schools series aimed at older Junior children, notably the award-winning series The Music Arcade (1979-1986), and Into Music.

In 2005, he staged a theatre production called Still Playing Away alongside former Play Away presenter Brian Cant, which was a trip down memory lane of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

He leads the annual Christmas Carol Singalong at the Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, using his own arrangements of traditional Christmas songs and carols.

Selected discography[edit]

  • 1973 - Play Away. BBC Records (RBT 19)
  • 1975 - "}Hey You!" - Songs from The BBC TV Series "Play Away". BBC Records and Tapes (REC 209)
  • 1981 - Hello! - Songs from BBC TV's "Play School" and "Play Away". BBC Records (REC 425)
  • 1984 - Singing In The Band - Songs from BBC TV's "Play School" and "Play Away". BBC Records (REC 495)
  • 1986 - Elisabeth Welch in Concert. First Night Records (OCR CD6016)

Music for television[edit]


  1. ^ BBC music magazine British Broadcasting Corporation - 1996- Volumes 4 - 5 - Page 85 "CAROL SING ALONG LONDON CONCERT ORCHESTRA • CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL CHOIR Jonathan Cohen presenter • Special Guest Singer Helen Speirs TV presenter, pianist and composer Jonathan Cohen leads the audience through a ..."
  2. ^ Ruth Inglis The window in the corner: a half-century of children's television - 2003 - Page 51 "Jonathan did the accompaniments for Jackanory, in which a personality, usually a West End star, read a story to the children. ... Jonathan Cohen says that everyone on Play School had a cut-glass educated accent and used 'received English ..."

External links[edit]