Jon Tolansky specialises in making documentary features on composers and performers for international radio organisations and recording companies. These have included the WFMT Radio Network (with which he has formed a close creative relationship), the BBC, the CBC, EMI Classics (now part of Warner Classics), Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon and VAI Records. He pioneered the first sets of documentary profiles on CD, for which he has personally collaborated with acclaimed artists such as Grace Bumbry, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Gedda, Angela Gheorghiu, Carlo Maria Giulini, Thomas Hampson, Marilyn Horne, Yevgeni Kissin, Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Antonio Pappano, Luciano Pavarotti, Ruggero Raimondi, Mstislav Rostropovich, Giuseppe di Stefano, Dame Joan Sutherland and Jon Vickers. For Warner Classics he has initiated a new brand called the Autograph series, consisting of biographical overviews of acclaimed artists’ careers in themed compilations devised with their collaboration and also including exclusive new recordings of them discussing their lives and the music they have performed. Additionally, for Warner Classics and also Universal Classics he has produced retrospective CD and DVD documentaries with new material on Benjamin Britten, Maria Callas, Otto Klemperer and Dmitri Shostakovich.
Jon Tolansky has written on music and performers for the Oxford Companion to Music, Cambridge Guide to the Orchestra, Opera House (the magazine of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), On Air (the magazine of the BBC World Service), Andante Magazine, Bambill (Brooklyn Academy of Music publication), Living Music (the magazine of the London Symphony Orchestra), The Gramophone, Opera Magazine, Limelight (the magazine of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Classic Record Quarterly. In 2003 he co-wrote the autobiography of the distinguished baritone Peter Glossop with the artist.
Jon Tolansky has given illustrated music talks to international performance organisations, music colleges and universities. They include the Edinburgh International Festival, Cambridge University, the Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera Holland Park, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lincoln Center Festival, the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, and Stanford University.
Jon Tolansky created the ‘Profile of the Artist’ events at the Barbican Centre, a series of public interviews with some of the most highly sought after performers. He organised these for the Music Performance Research Centre, now called Music Preserved, which he initiated and co-founded in 1987 as a unique repository of mostly unduplicated live performance archive-recordings. He also initiated and hosted an historical series of recorded interviews with some dozens of major international performers for the Royal Opera House Archives (now called the Royal Opera House Collections) as part of the centenary commemorations of the death of Verdi in 2001.
Many of Jon Tolansky’s documentary profiles of opera singers are permanently housed for public listening in the Singers on Singing Archive of the Hampsong Foundation archive that has been created specifically for his features within the website of the Hampsong Foundation (www.hampsongfoundation.org) – a not-for-profit platform for the support, proliferation, study and research of song and opera.