quoteJust a few minutes into another brilliant episode of Discovering Music (7 November, 8.20pm) about Vaughan William’s seventh symphony, Sinfonia Antartica, and the presenter Stephen Johnson is in his stride, speaking in a way that is hard to render on the page but that sounds incredibly natural and yet also like every other word is italicised.

Antonia Quirke
New Statesman


Audience Feedback

quoteSJ conveys knowledge and passion in fascinating language

quoteJust heard the riveting 90 minutes of Stephen Johnson on Ravel. I'm not a pianist, but SJ made me see Ravel as a major piano technician, as an innovator, as a genius. All credit to Johnson's persuasive and utterly unpretentious manner, analytic skills, and sheer quietly infectious enthusiasm without histrionics or self-promotion. Some lovely playing too by Cedric Tiberghien of Gaspard de la Nuit in particular.

quoteMarvellous knowledge, fluency, musicianship, vocabulary, enthusiasm, generosity...

quoteSJ really knows his stuff and everything he puts together is immaculately researched and INTERESTING. Very much "Old School" Radio 3 and thank goodness he is still around...

quoteGives insight into literature as well

quoteHermes - it is funny you should say that about getting SJ presenting the Proms, because the very same thought went through my mind too. He's articulate, he knows concert protocol (no gushing interjections from him a millisecond after the conductor puts down his arms,) and umm... he isn't bad on the eyes either.


quoteMay I second the praise for Stephen Johnson, a terrific asset for R3 and an object lesson in modest and self-effacing presentation skills underpinned by a first rate understanding and love of his subject.

Broadcasting on Radio, TV and Film

Most of Stephen's broadcast work has been for his favourite medium, radio.

From his first appearance on Radio 3's CD Review in 1987, he has gone on to take part in several hundred radio programmes, most recently concentrating on documentaries about composers and musicians, and particularly on Radio 3's weekly Discovering Music series. He is also presenter on the Classic Arts podcast series Archive Classics.

However Stephen has also made numerous appearances on TV, contributing as guest interviewee on BBC4 coverage of The Proms, ITV’s The South Bank Show, and more recently on BBC1’s The One Show. He also made an important contribution, both as commentator and narrator, to Tony Palmer’s controversial film about the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, Oh Thou Transcendent, and more recently to Palmer's film about Gustav Holst, In the Bleak Midwinter.

Stephen at BBC 3

Discovering Music

Radio 3 - Various weekdays

As the presenter forDiscovering Music, Stephen explores pieces of music in detail, exploring their backgrounds and playing extracts to help discover what makes them work. Programmes are either based around a featured work or cover a musical topic like melody, harmony or rhythm. Discovering Music has been nominated for Sony and RPS awards.

Critical acclaim for Discovering Music

At the moment Radio 3 is not commissioning any new episodes of Discovering Music. However, past programmes are available on the Discovering Music Archive

Ralph Vaughn Williams - Oh Thou Transcendent


Oh Thou Transcendent

In this first ever full-length film biography of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, produced by the multi-award winning director, TONY PALMER, Stephen adds his voice to those arguing that Vaughan Williams is ‘the most misunderstood of all the great twentieth century British composers’.

DVD available on Amazon