The Great Pianists at Vaughan Public Library, March 2019.
The Great Pianists: Stories, Music & More is a ninety minute program consisting of a mix of both spoken word and excerpts from select recordings of pianists from the Golden Age of pianism (approx. 1875-1910). Stories featured are both humorous and poignant and commentary has been designed to gently guide listeners along a journey through the first generation of pianists for whom we have recordings. Piano Family Trees from some of the most prominent teachers of the nineteenth century are also featured.
Designed for audiences of all ages, The Great Pianists: Stories, Music & More is now being presented at various public and private locations across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. This event has been booked by public libraries in Aurora, Brampton, Kitchener, Milton, Mississauga, and Vaughan as well as by private institutions and organizations. Presentations are also available for music schools and studio piano teachers. To schedule a presentation, please click the "Contact Me" tab.
My reason for creating The Great Pianists: Stories, Music & More was to create a presentation that would give everyday listeners, in a relaxed and entertaining manner, the tools needed to appreciate and distinguish some of the traits characterizing Golden Age pianists from those of more recent times. Given that the "Stories" portion of the presentation comes from some rare and out-of-print books, the program also encourages listeners to read about the history of the piano and its great artists. The event is a little bit like a "piano campfire", listening to stories and traveling back in time by way of old recordings. As well, the five, large piano family trees that have been created specifically for the presentation, represent a kind of piano genealogy from which listeners can put into context, the past 150 years of classical piano-playing.
"Many thanks again for your time and effort in bringing your marvellous program, The Great Pianists to our community." - Bernadette Preyde, Aurora Public Library
"My friend and I wanted you to know how much we enjoyed your presentation at the Aurora Public Library last night. It was very interesting and the music was so lovely to listen to. Your obvious affection and enthusiasm of the subject matter added to the lecture to draw in the audience. Thank you and we will look forward to hearing more from you, either through lectures or performances or both!" - Pamela Robinson
"We recently had Penny Johnson come to speak to our group, The Retired Teachers of Ontario. In addition to being very informative, it was also interesting to our group of teachers, as her teaching was full of examples of the music, some from 1905, and spoke without notes. She reviewed some of the 'greats' of classical music, looking at each with the SEPT formula (social, economic political and technological of the time). Her talk is still being talked about by our group...wanting a 2nd session. Even I, who don't really like classic music, came away with much more enthusiasm." - Catherine Hough, Retired Teachers of Ontario
"Dr. Johnson brings the pianists to life through really interesting stories about their personal lives from the extensive research that she has done. This makes the presentation interesting to everyone. As a retired music teacher I found the Piano Family Trees particularly of interest especially the one from Beethoven to present day pianists and piano teachers. I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation." - M. Christoff
"Unique. Elevating. More please."
"I enjoyed the programme very much. You made the composers human."
"Great presentation, very happy I attended. She has amazing knowledge about the history and biography of great pianists. Well prepared detailed entertaining presentation."
"Learned so much - thank you."
"Thank you for the amazing presentation!"
"Younger people should be encouraged to appreciate such music and past ages."
The Great Pianists at Kitchener Public Library, November 2018. (Photo courtesy of KPL)
The Great Pianists at Milton Public Library, October 2018.
Flyer from the first presentation of The Great Pianists at Mississauga Public Library, July 2018.