Question about John Williams

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Peter Lovett
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Re: Question about John Williams

Post by Peter Lovett » Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:10 am

Francisco wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:36 am
I watched part 1 of the interview and he comes accross as a likeable fellow. I intend to watch the other segments as time allows. But the relationship with the classical guitar that transpires from his comments is always rather ambiguous, and this is the case in other interviews with him that I've read. He finds the repertoire too thin and dull, he finds the right hand technique too constraining and opposed to to the rhythmic congeniality of up and down movement allowed by plectrum plahying... it is as if he was always wishing to escape from a room he finds too small, but never quite manages to do it. His impecable classical training made him an excellent sight reader, a skill he acknowledges he needed in order to compensate his relative lack of skill at figuring things out just by ear, on the fly, which is precisely a skill that most non-classical musicians possess. It is as if he kept trying to escape to a wider space than the narrow confines of the classical guitar world, but at the same time he feels like he doesn't quite fit in that other world either. Complicated character. But like I said, very likeable in the way he explains himself.
Francisco, I think you have nailed the contradictions in Williams very well. While we, as guitarists, and nearly everyone else think of him as a guitarist, I suspect he thinks of himself as a musician to which he can bring his guitar skills. While his biography is much derided on this forum, it does offer some insights into his early years such as his father was always going to teach him the guitar. Len Williams was very persuasive and also a very good guitarist and probably a better teacher. By the time the family arrived in London John Williams was a competent guitarist. Most children, if they can do something well, will continue to do that. In John Williams case that got reinforced by a school headmaster allowing him to skip sports afternoons so he can practice; by an introduction to Segovia (don't forget he first went to Sienna at 15 where he was immersed in music by some of the truely great musicians of our time).

Because I think he regards himself as a musician rather than a guitarist it has led him to explore so many different musical avenues, even if not all of them have worked as he would have liked. Bream did more to enlarge the classical repertoire for the guitar but I think Williams has diversified more. Something which he continues to do hence the agreement to play with his daughter in a jazz gig.
1994 Jim Williams lattice braced, Cedar/Tasmanian Blackwood

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Re: Question about John Williams

Post by PeteJ » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:12 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:07 pm
Sure is; several years ago I had a recording session with Karen and a reeds player. Writes some very fine jazz-style wind ensembles too.
I expect that was fun. She's ridiculously talented as a multi-instrumentalist and used to make me feel totally inadequate. Which I was, as it happens. I once heard her play Gershwin's clarinet concerto with orchestra and it was fab.

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Re: Question about John Williams

Post by dory » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:51 am

I think the point is that John Williams might even have come to the guitar on his own but that his father was so dominant he never had the chance to choose his own career. It is always hard having a dominant parent. By the time he feached adulthood he was already such a prodigy on the guitar that it would have been hard to choose a different career path. I saw a video once of John Williams where he was playingnand was surprised by his daughter arriving. I had fairly demanding parents I felt I couldn't please, and I was very touched by the warmth John Williams showed his daughter. Howeve, I was also very impressed by the respect he had for his daughter choosing a different instrument than her dad as well as a different style of music (jazz) . I got the impression that he would have loved to have had the freedom to find his own path-- even if he came to guitar on his own eventually. I guess that selfishly I am glad he was pushed into the guitar as I enjoy his playing, but when I think of the young boy he once was, and the teenager, I wish he had had more freedom.

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Re: Question about John Williams

Post by Rognvald » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:49 pm

Francisco wrote:
Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:03 pm
ddray wrote:
Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:22 pm
I don't know why Bream or Williams would say that. Bream can play 4 or 5 different instruments and I know Williams studied piano. Maybe they pine for the accordion or clarinet :D
The clarinet has some dignified legends into its ranks, but the accordion seems to be still waiting for a savior who knows how to lift it to its true potential. I don't despise the accordion, but its best players are hard to discover. I once heard an angelic accordionist walking slowly on a secluded narrow path in Golden Gate Park, in the fog. He was probably on his way to homelessness, if not already there... but he was playing something magical for a couple of minutes.
I wonder if I dreamed this thing about Williams. I have no idea where it came from but it has been bothering me for the last few days. O well.

Here's a taste of Dominguinhos(accordionist) and Yamandu Costa(guitar). Brazilian music abounds with the work of the accordian which was a borrowing from early European settlement in South America. It doesn't get better than this. Playing again, Rognvald

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