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John Christopher Williams was born April 24, 1941, in Melbourne, Australia.
At 11, John moved to the UK, became a pupil of Segovia at the Academia
Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and studied at London's Royal College of
Music in London (1956-1959). Although Jonn will admit that Andres is the
best classical guitarist to have ever lived, he was rather critical of Segovia as
an instructor in his recent biography by William Sterling, Strings Attached:
The Life and Music of John Williams. In the book, Sterling quotes Williams as
believing that "Segovia looked down on music without the right classical
provenance and bullied young musicians with teaching methods that were
unsympathetic and unhelpful." In the book, Williams also attacked Segovia as
a "musical and social snob who stifled creativity among his students."
Williams was signed to Columbia Records' Masterworks division (now Sony
Classical) in the late '60s, where he became that label's answer to Julian
Bream at RCA-Victor and Christopher Parkening at Angel Records. John
was not limited to classical guitar or the "classics".
Among John's other achievements was the Edison Lifetime Achievement Award
in 2007 which he discusses in this Interesting interview from Japanese 56.com
TV. At age 70, John still tours. More more on John, visit his official website.
John also shared a Grammy Award for 'Best Chamber Music Performance' for
one of his many collaborations with Julian Bream for Julian and John (1973).
Here they unite for a remarkable version of Fernando Sor's Fantasie Opus 54.
John's duets with Paco Peña are quite epic as well.
- “I find that musically, looking back, I have learned much more from those relationships, people I
have bumped into that I have admired, that’s the way I feel musically I have learned most in life.”
JOHN SaiD ...
He recorded his first LP, Guitar Recital Volumes 1 & 2 (Delysé), in
1958 while in school. John did play some of the same classics as his
teacher. You heard Segovia's Asturias (above). Here's John's version
of Asturias, a Flamenco piece originally written by Isaac Albeniz. This
piece seems to be a standard for classical guitarists as it has also
been performed by Pepe Romero, Ana Vidovic, José Manuel Dapena,
and even Cartoon Guy!
This 1985 performance by John on the British TV special, 'Cleo and Friends' features the music of Paraguayan
composer, Augustín Barrios. Though Segovia disliked Barrios, dismissing his style as too folky, Williams embraced
Barrios' music and helped popularize the South American's music. Some of John's other recordings that pay tribute to
Barrios include From the Jungles of Paraguay and John Williams Plays Barrios.
John developed his flawless technique at a young age and much of the
modern classical guitar technique is credited to him. His tone and
interpretations are often perceived as colder and more mechanical, giving
him a unique aesthetic.
- "in my view, we have become too reliant on written fingering; we are looking for fingering
instead of music."
Spanish guitar works, chamber music and even music for Academy
Award-winning soundtracks like Stanley Myer's Cavatina, commonly known
as theme for The Deer Hunter (not the video you expected, I'm sure!) Unlike
most of our other top classical guitarists, John has not been afraid to step
outside his genre.The version of the song you expected to hear is performed
here by John as a member of his 1970's fusion group, Sky. Among his other
non-classical collaborations is his work with Peter Townshend, the lead
guitarist of The Who.