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ProductsSheet Music for GuitarSolo GuitarThe Book of John

The Book of John

The Book of John

Composer: JOHANSON Bryan

DZ 3417


ISBN: 978-2-89795-334-8

Solo Guitar

44 p.

  • Three formats are available for your purchase.

    Book: The paper version of our editions, which will be shipped through the mail from the nearest distribution center

    PDF: The digital and downloadable version, which is in PDF file format. Thes files are encoded with a header bearing your name, and opening them requires a password.

    PDF Extra: This version allows you to print as many copies as you need for your musical ensembles. Also requires a password to open.



The Book of John was written as a set of compositional reflections on a particular group of composers whose music has provided me with years of listening pleasure, study and inspiration. As it turns out, the given names for the members of this particular subset are all versions of John. It has certainly not escaped my notice that my surname is derived from the same source. In each of the six movements I pay my respects to these important musicians, writing in forms that each would have recognized.

A Fantasie The cycle begins with an homage to the great Elizabethan lutenist and composer, John Dowland. The opening motive is a free variant of his famous work by the same name. Like his own work, it begins contrapuntally, following the opening idea as it spins out. During the composing of this movement I found myself reflecting not so much on the sunny nature of the original lute work but the darker nature of John Dowland’s personality.

Le petit babouin The music of the remarkable French baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau attracted me from an early age. While my first encounter with his music was a very poor piano recording of baroque keyboard chestnuts, the liveliness of his writing left me wanting more. In the years since then his music has experienced a modern renaissance with outstanding recordings of his keyboard and theatrical works now easily acquired. One aspect of Rameau’s keyboard music that I particularly love is his playfulness and sense of joy.

Prelude and Fugue The music of Johann Sebastian Bach as been a central pillar in my own musical life. In fact, one of my earliest musical memories is hearing a recording of Bach’s organ music. I was enthralled by the first fugue that I heard on that record. It felt like a puzzle written specifically for me to solve. In my own work, the fugue subject is built on a motive taken from the remarkable John Dowland song, In Darkness, Let Me Dwell.

Lied While Johannes Brahms is celebrated for his orchestral and chamber music, it is important to remember that his most sustained effort as a composer was writing songs. He wrote nearly three hundred songs over the span of his career. It is in his lieder where you can uncover the most intimate picture of this titan: Vesuvius at home, so to speak. 

Legend This movement finds me thinking not only about the music of Jean Sibelius, it also has me reflecting on the outstanding tradition of folk music coming from his native country, Finland. Sibelius is a national treasure there and spent most of his creative life exploring the relationship between music and national identity. Over the course of his life he drew inspiration from the stories and legends found in the Kalevala, writing some of his most powerful music based on the stories and characters found in that collection.

Gizmo The final composer on my list is the contemporary American, John Adams. He has created a remarkable body of music that I find compelling, dynamic and engaging. He is the only composer on this list that is:  a) still alive and kicking, b) speaks my native language and c) lives 526 miles (as the bee flies) down the Pacific coast from me. All good reasons to include him.

Duration:  ca. 40 minutes

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