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Hall Johnson Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1947. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108272).


Johnson, Hall (12 March 1888–30 April 1970), composer, arranger, and choral conductor, was born Francis Hall Johnson in Athens, Georgia, the son of William Decker Johnson, an AME minister, and Alice (maiden name unknown). Music was an important part of Hall Johnson’s childhood. He heard the singing of his grandmother and other former slaves as they sang the old spirituals in his father’s Methodist church. This grounding in the original performance of Negro spirituals was to represent a significant influence on his later life. Johnson, exhibiting an early interest in music, received solfeggio lessons from his father and piano lessons from an older sister. As a teenager he developed an interest in the violin and taught himself to play....


Maretzek, Max (28 June 1821–14 May 1897), opera impresario, conductor, and composer, was born Maximilian Mareczek in Brünn, Moravia (now Brno, Czechoslovakia). His formal education emphasized literature and the classics; he was also instructed on the piano and pursued general music studies. He enrolled at the University of Vienna at the age of seventeen, first to study medicine, then law (both professions were acceptable to his parents). He discarded both, however, and with the encouragement of the Austrian music historian and teacher Joseph Fischof turned his attention to music, his first love. His major field of concentration was composition, which he studied with the composer and conductor Ignaz Xaver Ritter von Seyfried. These studies resulted in his first major work, the opera ...