Keith Johnson
1942 - 2020
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Keith Johnson

August 25, 1942 - July 31, 2020

Keith Johnson, retired Emeritus Regents Professor of Trumpet in the College of Music at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX passed away on July 31, 2020 as a result of the Covid- 19 virus and complications of advancing dementia. He was born John Keith Johnson on August 25, 1942 in Center, TX to Maxine (Williams) and Johnie Johnson. He was the eldest of three boys each 6 years apart - Alan (wife Bettye ) of Center, TX and Stephen (wife Renee) of Marlin, TX. He is survived by his 2 brothers and their families, wife of 50 years Cecile LeBlanc Johnson of Denton, daughter Andrea Johnson Bustos of Denton, son Stephen of San Antonio and beloved granddaughter Victoria, a student at Texas Tech, along with nieces, nephews, treasured colleagues, dear friends and so many devoted trumpet students.

Mr. Johnson graduated from Center High School and he held advanced music degrees in trumpet performance from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) and the University of Illinois. His teachers included William Scarlato (Shreveport Symphony), John Haynie (University of North Texas), Haskell Sexton (University of Illinois), Vincent Cichowicz (Chicago Symphony), Armando Ghitalla (Boston Symphony) and Arnold Jacobs (Chicago Symphony).

Mr. Johnson was awarded the title of Regents Professor in 1996. He was named a University Distinguished Professor of Teaching in the fall of 2011. Prior to UNT, he was Professor of Trumpet at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa where he taught from 1970-1986. He performed with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, the Dallas Opera, the Fort Worth Symphony, the New Hampshire Music Festival and the Sundance Brass Quintet. He played Baroque trumpet with the Dallas Bach Society, Fort Worth Early Music Consort, the Orchestra of New Spain, the Texas Baroque Trumpet Ensemble, the San Francisco Bach Choir and Orchestra, Texas Camerata and the New York Baroque Orchestra. He also performed with the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Shreveport, Kansas City, Cape Town, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Mexico City Symphony, the Solistas de Mexico, and the Orchestra of the Mineria Festival (Mexico City). He presented both clinics and recitals at more than seventy-five universities and conservatories throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Romania, Italy, England, The Netherlands, Australia, Brazil and South Africa, and was a featured clinician at The International Trumpet Guild Conferences on numerous occasions.

He is the author of two highly acclaimed books, The Art of Trumpet Playing (Iowa State University Press/Gore Publications) and Brass Performance and Pedagogy (Prentice-Hall), and published more than forty articles on brass playing as well as a method book entitled Developing the Upper Register. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild, and for eight years was music review editor for the International Trumpet Guild Journal. His students hold playing and teaching positions in orchestras, bands and universities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Italy, England, France, Spain, Germany and Romania. He was selected by the International Trumpet Guild to receive the Award of Merit for service to the trumpet profession at the ITG Convention in 2012, and in the summer of 2013 was presented a Distinguished Service Award by the New Hampshire Music Festival for fifty years of service as co-principal trumpet of the Festival Orchestra. He retired from UNT in 2014 and in 2016 was bestowed a UNT College of Music Honor Alumni Award.

Diagnosed in 2015 with frontal temporal lobe (FTD) semantic dementia, he was most recently a resident of the Eagle Ridge Alzheimer's Special Care Center. The family wishes to thank his many caregivers over the years and most especially the compassionate nurses and doctors who ministered to him during his final days at Denton Medical City Hospital.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions regarding gatherings, a requiem mass/memorial service and committal of his remains in the columbarium at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church will be scheduled at a later date. It is also hoped that a more public memorial tribute concert be organized when it is truly safe to be together again.

In the meantime, the angels are surely enjoying a heavenly concert with the newest trumpet player showing up to the gig. "The trumpets shall sound......." In his own words, "Think a beautiful sound, take a full breath, sing through the horn." His legacy is legend - truly evident in the wonderful playing and exemplary teaching careers of his many accomplished students.

His family has asked for memorials to be sent to the UNT College of Music Keith Johnson Graduate Trumpet Endowment Fund; the New Hampshire Music Festival , PO Box 64 , Plymouth, NH 03264; or to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 1200 North Elm, Denton, TX 76201.

Online condolences may be made at

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Published in Denton Record-Chronicle on Aug. 5, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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