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Grant Johannesen, without doubt, is the most celebrated concert pianist the Beehive State has ever produced. His death Sunday at the age of 83 while visiting friends in Berlin leaves a significant void in the world of classical music performance.
Johannesen was born in Salt Lake City in 1921, but left for New York at the age of 17 to study his art and pursue his dream. He succeeded with aplomb and became established as one of the great pianists of his time.
Many considered Johannesen the first important American pianist to emerge after World War II. He toured internationally with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as enthralling audiences during several solo tours of Europe and Russia. Along the way, he never forgot his roots and became a most ardent supporter of the Utah Symphony, and helped the fledgling organization grow into what it is today. At the time of his last performance here in 2001, he surmised he had appeared with the Utah Symphony some 30 times.
Today, KSL pays editorial tribute to this distinguished native son. While Utah has produced its share of talented musical performers over the years, few have achieved the heights of international acclaim as Grant Johannesen.