Composer Tom Johnson, born in Colorado in 1939, received B.A. and M.Mus degress from Yale University, and studied privately with Morton Feldman. After 15 years in New York, he moved to Paris, where he has lived since 1983.
He is considered a minimalist composer, since he works with simple forms, limited scales, and generally reduced materials, but he proceeds in a more logical way than most minimalists, often using formulas, permutations, and predictable sequences.
Johnson is well known for his operas: "The Four Note Opera" (1972) continues to be presented in many countries. "Riemannoper" has been stated in many countries, since its premier in Bremen in 1988. Often played non-operatic works include the "Bedtime Stories," "Rational Melodies," "Music and Questions," "Counting Duets," "Tango," "Narayana's Cows," and "Failing: a very difficult piece for solo string bass."
His largest compositions, the "Bonhoeffer Oratorio," a two-hour work in German for orchestra, chorus and soloists, with text by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was premiered in Maastricht in 1996, and had its German premiere in Berlin in 1998. It had its American premiere in New York State in May 2000.
The principal recordings currently available are the CDs "Musique pour 88" (XI, 1992), "Rational Melodies" (Hat Art, 1993), and "The Chord Catalogue" (XI, 1999)
"Self-Similar Melodies," a theoretical book, was published in 1996.