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Francis Johnson

1792 - 1844


Francis Johnson was born on June 16, 1792. There is some debate as to whether Johnson was born in Philadelphia or Martinique. The most recent scholarship, however, suggests that Johnson was born in Philadelphia. Johnson became the first African American to publish sheet music (well over two hundred published pieces), the first black musician and perhaps the first American musician to tour Europe with a band, and one of the first musicians to participate in integrated public concerts. He mentored a number of successful black musicians, and scholars credit him as the leader the Philadelphia School of composers — arguably the first such group in the United States. His compositions remained in print until late in the nineteenth century and enjoyed some reemergence in the late twentieth century.

(from University of Pennsylvania University Archives & Record Center)

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