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July 21, 2010

British tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson dies at 69

Sad news today from London, where the British tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson died at the age of 69. He had been battling Alzheimer's for several years.

It has been a long while since I heard this remarkable singer in person, but I've never forgotten his eloquent artistry.

Here's a sample:

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:10 PM | | Comments (3)


My daughter (who is a mezzo soprano) just informed me of the passing of Anthony Rolfe Johnson. She described his voice as having a sweetness and containing a lot of emotion as well as expression. I would definitely agree with my daughter and knowing her passion for Handel and baroque music in general, Mr. Johnson's lovely tenor voice was perfect. May he rest in heavenly peace surrounded by the music he loved.

Jammer, een van de grootste barok tenoren van de afgelopen 30 jaar.

What a sad day for the lyric arts. Mr. Johnson's voice was one of incredible beauty - and the depth and charm of his artistry was communicated to a rare degree whether one heard him on compact disc - or in person. Our loss is heaven's gain...

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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