J.J. Johannesen

J.J. (Joseph Jean) Johannesen. Administrator, businessman, b Vitry, France, 23 Mar 1928, naturalized Canadian 1976, d Victoria 14 Mar 1994. Educated in Belgium, where he joined the JM movement upon its foundation, Johannesen was interested in composing but pursued a career in business.

Johannesen, J.J.

J.J. (Joseph Jean) Johannesen. Administrator, businessman, b Vitry, France, 23 Mar 1928, naturalized Canadian 1976, d Victoria 14 Mar 1994. Educated in Belgium, where he joined the JM movement upon its foundation, Johannesen was interested in composing but pursued a career in business. He was a banker 1956-9 in the Belgian Congo, where he met and married the Canadian pianist Audrey Johnston Johannesen and initiated the Congo's first concert series through the JM movement. He then moved to Vancouver and established an import-export business there. In the early 1960s he was a director of the Vancouver Philharmonic Society and the Vancouver Bach Choir and in 1961 he introduced to British Columbia the JM concerts (after 1972 known as the Festival Concert Society). Johannesen served as a director and 1968-71 as vice-president of the JMC (YMC), and in 1990 he continued as the president of the Festival Concert Society, which sponsored some 1900 concerts annually in Canada and abroad until its demise around 1995. He also sat on the board of the Vancouver Symphony Society for two years. In 1971 he founded the Shawnigan Summer School of the Arts, which moved to St Michael's University School, Victoria, in 1974 and was renamed the Johannesen International School of the Arts in 1980. Also in 1971 Johannesen founded the Shawnigan International Festival (renamed the Victoria International Festival in 1978). In 1973 he began the Sunday Coffee Concert series (at the Vancouver Playhouse), which ran from September to June. Johannesen often functioned as commentator at concerts. He was associated with Canada Opera Piccola when it became an entity separate from his summer school in 1982. Johannesen was also one of the co-founders in 1983 of the International Foundation for the Arts, which raised funds to support the Victoria International Festival, the Johannesen summer school, the Festival Concert Society, and the Sunday Coffee Concerts.

Johannesen's efforts were driven by his belief that 'the success of the artists will very much depend on a growing audience of tomorrow' (Playboard March 1991). He continued in charge of the societies he founded until his death. An imaginative and dedicated administrator, Johannesen received the Diplôme d'Honneur of the Belgian Eugène Ysaÿe Foundation and other awards; he was also made an Honorary Citizen of the City of Victoria. He received the Canada 125 medal in 1992, and the BCMEA awarded him its Distinguished Service Award in 1993.


Further Reading

  • 'Le plan quinquennal de J.J. Johannesen,' Jmc, vol 15, Apr 1969

    Mercer, Ruby. 'Empire in the west,' OpCan, Winter 1984.

    Nutting, Elizabeth. 'Much music with J.J. & co'. Victoria Boulevard, 3, Jul-Aug 1990

    'J.J. Johannesen - Special distinguished service award,' BCMEA Newsletter, May 1993

    Hamilton, Arlene. 'Footprints of a dreamer,' Playboard, Feb 1995