Dr. Keith Johnson taught at the University of Arizona for 32 years, from 1975-2007. His infectious smile and gentle, supportive demeaner will be remembered by students and colleagues alike. Our support goes out to his family at this difficult time.
Dr. Johnson received his training from Luther College (Iowa), UCLA, and Indiana University, where he received a Doctor of Music in Brass Pedagogy and Literature. Before coming to Tucson, Dr. Johnson taught at colleges and universities in Texas, Indiana, and Florida.
At the University of Arizona, Dr. Johnson taught horn performance, brass pedagogy, conducting, and music education courses. He was a founding member of the faculty ensemble the Arizona Wind Quintet. He had a positive impact on countless students, many of whom went on to musical careers. Beyond the university, he served for decades as the principal horn of Arizona Opera, as well as performing with the Tucson Symphony and the Tucson Pops Orchestra.
From Dr. Paula Fan, Regents’ Professor Emerita and former piano faculty:
One can never think of Keith Johnson without his great smile coming to mind, a smile that reflected both his kind and generous spirit, and his gentle sense of humor. We made music together from the time he set foot in Tucson. I was the house pianist who for many years played the audition recitals of each and every applicant for teaching positions at the FFSOM, and I gulped when I was handed the David Amram Horn Concerto to perform with only one short rehearsal just before the recital. Some blind date. One learns a lot about a person’s temperament in these situations, for better or worse.
From the beginning, Keith was an absolute gent of a performer and colleague. We made a lot of music over the years; it was always an enjoyable experience to work as a team to improve and polish. I also watched with great admiration as he built a strong and vibrant studio of young horn players, his encouraging teaching style inspiring great devotion. It was a great legacy to leave upon his retirement.
Just a few years ago, our paths unexpectedly crossed again over the game of golf, which became a regular meet-up. You can also learn a lot about a person on a golf course. Keith hadn’t changed: he was always practicing to improve, he was always considerate and encouraging of others, and he was always helpful. Ever the player and teacher, he taught me how to get out of a sand trap! With that great smile, which we will always remember, with a smile.
From Dr. Kristin Dauphinais, vocal faculty:
I have such fond memories of Keith. We did some concerts in my first year at UA with Paula Fan and Grayson Hirst and I remember him bringing the concert to a full halt when he played the natural horn. The audience at Academy Village was absolutely full of questions. He was so gracious and knowledgeable and they soaked it all up! What a kind and talented musician scholar and teacher. He will be missed by many.
From Dr. John Brobeck, musicology faculty:
Keith was a warm, humorous, patient, compassionate individual who drove a very battered ancient VW Bug for many years. His office was the room right beside my office near the Music Library. I still remember with enjoyment a Telemann sonata we played together for one of his recitals back in 1989, shortly after my arrival at the university, Keith on valveless horn, me on alto recorder. This was his way to welcome a new faculty member to the faculty, and to make them feel at home. All who knew him lament his passing. Requiesce in pace, Keith.