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Profiles in Classical Guitar - John Williams
In this installment of the series I take a look at John Williams. If you came to this web page from a search engine I have profiles of other Classical Guitarists here: Profiles in Classical Guitar
Chances are good that you have heard of John Williams the Classical Guitarist. But some people will sometimes get him confused with John Williams the composer! They are not the same person. That John Williams is John Towner Williams (born 1932) and is the composer of the music for Indiana Jones, ET, Jurassic Park, Jaws, the first three Harry Potters and lots more.
This John Christopher Williams is the Classical Guitarist who himself is a composer, arranger, and grammy winning classical guitarist and probably the greatest classical guitarist of our times.
He was born in Melbourne Australia in 1941 and he still performs although if you take a look at his website (which is a bit outdated) the latest performance dates are for 2008. So, I am not exactly sure if he is actually still performing.
His first official public performance was at Conway Hall in London in 1955 and his official debut was at london's Wigmore Hall in 1958. He studied under Andres Segovia from 1957 to 1959. He also attended the Royal College of Music in London but studied Piano because they didn't have a guitar department. They later offered him the opportunity to create a guitar department at the College and he did just that - running it for the first two years .
Some Interesting things about John
He has toured the world from Europe, Japan, Asia, United States and just about everywhere and his discography is enormous - well over 100 CD's. And something that is lesser known about him is that he isn't just a traditional classical guitarist even though this is where he has made his mark. He has performed in a wide variety of styles and even had his own rock fusion band called Sky. And he has collaborated in a very diverse range of areas such as working with The Who's Pete Townshend ona a version of Won't Get Fooled Again,, and he also had a group called "John Williams and friends who performed adaptations of African music. This can be heard in the CD "The Magic Box" which is difficult to get.
He has also performed for film and his most popular work is probably the Cavatina for the Deer Hunter which was composed by Stanley Myers. This song was a worldwide hit. (The sheet music for this piece is available at Sheet Music Plus - Cavatina for the Deer Hunter ) Below is a nice video with The Cavatina.
About who he admires: He is on record as saying that Agustin Barrios is the greatest composer of music for the Classical guitar.
John Williams Greatest Hits (2009) - This cd is truly a greatest hits and it includes some of my all time favorites such as Cavatina from the Deer Hunter, No. 5 Asturias (Leyenda) and Recuerdos de la Alhambra
Places Between: Live in Dublin - This is a live performance (2006) with him and John Etheridge. This CD has (4) 5 star ratings on amazon and one reviewer calls it John Williams' best work. A perfect collaboration between a traditional guitarist and a modern (jazz) guitarist.
Classic Williams: Romance of the Guitar This is probably his most popular CD.
Guitarist John Williams adds to his fine catalog of impeccable recordings with Classic Williams: Romance of the Guitar . But this isn't just a best-of collection (though some of his greatest work is included here) since the disc contains three new recordings. Among the new tracks, Fauré's Pavane is a real stunner, a short but gorgeous piece originally meant for orchestra and choir, where Williams's guitar sounds as though it always belonged there. We get Williams at his most interpretative--his arrangements of Satie's Gymnopedie No. 3 and Piazzolla tango Verano porteno --and his most serene (the "Cavatina" theme from the movie Deer Hunter ). Let's face it, some fine classical guitarists can lull their listeners into near comatose states with their instrument; Williams, on the other hand, is just the opposite. His gorgeous tone, inventive arrangements, and interesting repertoire continue to make the classical guitar sound exciting. In short, a great introduction to Williams and a real gem for lovers of classical guitar. --Jason Verlinde
The Great Guitar Concertos - There are few things as beautiful as guitar concertos. This collection played by john are of traditional works composed by Vivaldi, Rodrigo, Giuliani, Villa-lobos and others. Great cd if you want to listen to some of the great traditional guitar works.
Spanish Guitar Favorites - This CD is a collection of Isaac Albeniz works played by John Williams. For me, this is some of John's best work. But I truly love Spanish Guitar work.
There are two works on this CD: The Schubert "Arpeggione" Sonata and the Giuliani Guitar Concerto. And both works are simply beautiful. But don't let the fact that there are two pieces on the CD fool you. This is a full CD that runs about 54 minutes and each piece has three movements. The Orchestra that plays with John Williams on this Cd is the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
About the two pieces. They were both written in the early 19th century so they have a very similar period feel and the Giuliani piece was written for the guitar while the Schubert piece was written for the Arpeggione which was a six stringed instrument similar to the guitar but was played on the lap while seated.
My Opinion: You don't have to be a hard core classical guitar fan to really love this CD. This is something that even the casual listener of classical music and classical guitar can enjoy. It would make a good first CD to introduce someone to classical guitar and music. You can't go wrong with this CD. John Williams is of course fantastic and the liner notes are extensive and interesting. Well worth the price paid. You will play this one quite often.
The Guitarist John Williams -
Music both old and new, but all of it inspired by the timeless modal harmony of medieval and Mediterranean cultures: this is the subject of John Williams's brilliant guitar disc for Sony, which also features his debut as a composer. The main work is his own "Aeolian Suite" for guitar and chamber orchestra, based on both original and 14th-century tunes (one of which, the "Saltarello," appeared on early-music pioneer David Munrow's disc called Instruments of the Middle Ages ). The suite is a lovely piece of writing, deftly composed, and neither tacky nor pretentious. It's paired with an inspired assortment of spiritually related but diverse arrangements and original pieces by Satie, Theodorakis, Domeniconi, and an emotionally intense four-movement work called "Stélé," by Australian composer Phillip Houghton. Naturally, Williams performs each piece expertly, but most important, he makes his instrument sing, and that's just what the music demands. Simply super. --David Hurwitz
We proudly present the fifth edition of Maurice J. Summerfield's highly acclaimed ultimate reference book on the classical guitar. This brand new book features all the original biographical entries updated with new photographs where applicable, plus 100 new biographical entries in the players, composers and makers section - for a total of over 485. This new edition gives the reader a full and clear picture of the classical guitar's development since the beginning of the nineteenth century. Also included are informative sections on composers, scholars, flamenco guitarists and guitar makers. The book's collection of several hundred photographs is the most complete to be published in one volume. There are extensive listings of the most important classical guitar recordings. The final section, Sources of Supply, guides readers to where they can obtain the books, recordings, music and magazines listed in the book. Without a doubt, this new edition will be the essential work of reference on the subject of classical guitar for years to come!"My sincere congratulations to Maurice Summerfield."- Andres Segovia