South African composer, Alexander Johnson is a prolific and outstanding figure among
his contemporaries. His numerous works and contributions to South African classical
and indigenous music is worthy of mention. Over the years, he has been recognised both
locally and internationally for his contributions by receiving numerous awards, honorary
positions, as well as commissions. His works have been performed both locally and
internationally. Johnson’s compositional style mostly features diverse musical elements
and devices from the post-tonal era. He also utilises special and unique compositional
techniques in his works which give him a ‘signature.’
This study discusses and disseminates brief information on Johnson’s biography, as well
as a catalogue of the composer’s published works.
Most importantly, the three works in this study namely Kahlolo, Let_at_i, and Vocalise
Africa feature Johnson’s unique interpretation of South African music in the twenty-first
century. This study focuses on exploring the background of the three chosen works, and
the inspiration behind the creation of these works. Furthermore, the compositional
techniques employed by the composer, as well as the distinguishing features of his
compositional style are also discussed.
This study additionally aims to trace and disseminate similarities between the three
respective works as well as analyse the three selected pieces with regard to mostly
harmonic devices and techniques, melody, rhythm, form structure, texture, and
registration for organ music. Each piece is comprehensively discussed separately, with
emphasis on the above topics.
Further research in the future could entail a study on style discussion of Johnson’s more
recent compositions in other genres and instrumentation.
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2019.