As an undergraduate in 1970, Eric Johnson discovered the photographs of the great twentieth century composer Ernest Bloch (1880 ─ 1959). Johnson then spent several years studying the collection of nearly five thousand negatives that Bloch created between 1897 and 1940, and immersing himself in Bloch’s musical and intellectual world. Based on his research, Johnson printed a selection of the negatives. Bloch’s photography demonstrates a sensitive composer's eye, and reveals his love for nature and respect for the people he met on his travels in the Alps. Bloch also created many self-portraits and made portraits of his family, and musical colleagues.
Professor Johnson will discuss Bloch’s photography and place it in the context of his music. His presentation incorporates short film clips he produced, pairing Bloch’s photography with the music he composed at that time. Excerpts include Schelomo: Hebrew Rhapsody, and The Sacred Service, commissioned in 1929 by Rabbi Reuben Rinder of Congregation Emanuel-El in San Francisco.
Eric Johnson is a professor of art and design at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. He earned his MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico. His book A Composer’s Vision: The Photographs of Ernest Bloch is the first survey of Bloch’s photography, and his prints of Bloch’s negatives were featured in the 2011 exhibition Ernest Bloch: Framing a Vision of the World at the Oregon Jewish Museum. Johnson’s own work has been exhibited in museums and galleries and is in the permanent collection of SFMOMA.