Monday, January 07, 2013

Reber Nettleton Johnson, Violin Prodigy

Reber Nettleton Johnson was the son of Leonard Sumner Johnson and Alice Reber Johnson, born in Sandusky on June 7, 1890. Reber’s paternal grandfather, Leonard B. Johnson, once owned Johnson’s Island, in Sandusky Bay. His maternal grandfather, George Reber, was a prominent attorney in Sandusky. Reber Nettleton Johnson became an internationally known violinist while still a child. He is seen with his violin in the picture below when he was only three years and eleven months old.

According to an article in the June 9, 1966 issue of the Sandusky Register, Reber N. Johnson played violin at Carnegie Hall when he was age seven, and he performed in Paris at age eight.

Reber Johnson received a doctorate in music from Brown University in 1914, and shortly thereafter became first violinist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He was concertmaster of the New York Symphony from 1919 to 1923, when he accepted a position of professor of violin at the Oberlin College conservatory of Music. He held that post for more than thirty years.

Reber Nettleton Johnson died after a lengthy illness on May 31, 1966, in Oberlin, Ohio. His wife, the former Esther Andrews, preceded him in death in 1964. The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center was fortunate enough to have been given several portraits of Reber Nettleton Johnson by Glenn Everett.

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