Jonathan Cohen (musician)

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For the cellist and conductor of Arcangelo, see Jonathan Cohen (conductor).

Jonathan Cohen ( ) is a British pianist, composer and musical director.[1][2]

He is particularly well known for his work on many BBC children's programmes from the 1960s to the 1990s, including Play School, Play Away, Rentaghost and Jackanory. He had joined Play School in 1967 after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music.

He would frequently appear on some of these programmes, like Play Away where he would front the Play Away Band and sometime present some of the musical items. A standard item, much loved by children, would be to watch K'Too, the Play School cockatoo dance along to Cohen's playing.

In the latter part of his career he became heavily involved with the BBC Schools service, most famously co-presenting Music Time, a popular long-running series aimed at primary school children, with Helen Spiers; first aired in 1970, and presented by Cohen from 1983, this series was heavily focused on teaching singing and instrumentation to children. He also had prominent roles on several other BBC Schools series aimed at older Junior children, notably the award-winning series The Music Arcade (1979-1986), and Into Music, from 1988 and 1989, again aimed at older children, but this time using an "audience participation" approach on the part of the students. In 1991 the last new programmes of Music Time were broadcast.

Although he has not been regularly seen on TV since then, he has performed at the Royal Albert Hall in a show called Christmas Carol Singalong, where he performed his own arrangements of traditional Christmas songs and carols.

In 2005 he staged a theatre production called Still Playing Away alongside former Play Away presenter Brian Cant which was a trip down memory lane of the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Selected discography[edit]


  1. ^ BBC music magazine British Broadcasting Corporation - 1996- Volumes 4 - 5 - Page 85 "CAROL SING ALONG LONDON CONCERT ORCHESTRA • CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL CHOIR Jonathan Cohen presenter • Special Guest Singer Helen Speirs TV presenter, pianist and composer Jonathan Cohen leads the audience through a ..."
  2. ^ Ruth Inglis The window in the corner: a half-century of children's television - 2003 - Page 51 "Jonathan did the accompaniments for Jackanory, in which a personality, usually a West End star, read a story to the children. ... Jonathan Cohen says that everyone on Play School had a cut-glass educated accent and used 'received English ..."

External links[edit]