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Williams, John (Christopher) (i)

(b Melbourne, 24 April 1941). Australian guitarist. He began


learning the guitar at the age of four with his father, Leonard
Williams. He moved to England in 1952 and subsequently
participated in Segovia's summer courses at the Accademia
Musicale Chigiana, Siena: later he attended the RCM, where he
studied piano and music theory. After his Wigmore Hall dbut in
1958, he gave highly successful concerts in Paris and Madrid. In
1962 he toured the Soviet Union, and in 1963 made dbuts in
Japan and the USA. He was professor at the RCM (196073),
deputized for Segovia at the Santiago de Compostela summer
courses (19612) and became visiting professor at the RNCM in
1973. He was one of the first classical musicians to play at Ronnie
Scott's Club, London. He has given duo recitals with Julian Bream
and enjoyed musical collaborations with musicians such as Cleo
Laine, Paco Pea, Itzhak Perlman and Andr Previn. In the 1970s
his concerts and recordings stimulated a revival in the
compositions of the Paraguayan guitarist Agustn Barrios.
In 1978 Williams performed music for the film The Deer Hunter. In
1979 he formed the group Sky, dedicated to its own distinctive
popular repertory. Leaving Sky in 1984, he formed the ensemble
John Williams and Friends, which toured extensively (19837). He
was artistic director of South Bank Summer Music from 1984 to
1986 and of the Melbourne Arts Festival in 1987. After touring the
USA (199091), he formed a new group, Attaca, to play specially
commissioned contemporary music. During the 1990s he
increased his concert tours in Europe, East Asia, the USA and
Australia and continued to expand his already prolific recording
activities. He was made an OBE in 1980 and was awarded the
Order of Australia in 1987; he is an honorary fellow of the RCM and
RNCM.
From the start of his career, Williams has displayed remarkable
technical mastery, which has influenced subsequent generations of
players and raised the technical expectations of the instrument to
new heights. Many composers have written works for him,
including Leo Brouwer, Stephen Dodgson and Andr Previn.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
G. Wade: Traditions of the Classical Guitar (London, 1980)
G. Clinton: John Williams (Interview), Guitar International, xiii/4
(19845), 912
C. Cooper: John Williams, Classical Guitar, iii (19845), no.6,
pp.1317; no.7, pp.235
C. Kilvington and C. Cooper: Conversations with John Williams,
Classical Guitar, viii (198990), no.5, pp.1013; no.6, pp.13
16; no.7, pp.5052
M.J. Summerfield: The Classical Guitar: its Evolution, Players and
Personalities since 1800 (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1991)

C. Cooper: John Williams: A New Profile, Classical Guitar, xii


(19934), no.2, pp.1114; no.3, pp.1620
J. Tosone: A Conversation with John Williams, Guitar Review,
no.97 (1994), 28
GRAHAM WADE