Robert Johnson


Former Principal Horn – Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Australian Hometown: Sydney
Education: Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Robert Johnson studied the French horn at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. After holding the principal horn positions with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia Orchestra, he was appointed Principal Horn with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1986, a position he retired from in 2017. During his time with the SSO, he has performed as soloist in works by Mozart, Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and Ross Edwards, and in 2005 he was the horn soloist in the SSO’s first performance of Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars.

In 2009 he commissioned and premiered with the SSO a new horn concerto, Lightfall, by Sydney composer Christopher Gordon. He has also appeared as guest principal with all the major Australian orchestras, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

He has played chamber music with the Australia Ensemble, Sydney Soloists and New Sydney Wind Quintet, and has appeared at the Huntington and Townsville chamber music festivals.

As a teacher he has worked as Senior Horn Lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Canberra School of Music, and he has appeared as Artist in Residence at universities and music schools in Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Hong Kong.

In addition to playing the horn, he sings Mediæval and Renaissance songs in his ‘other life’ as a countertenor and has conducted Ensembles of musicians from the SSO on a number of occasions as The Chamber Soloists of Sydney in “off the beaten track” Repertoire.

Photo credit: Keith Saunders

Last updated 2021