Dodgson – 1st Guitar Concerto

John Williams in fine form, complete with a bit of LP crackle.

I was reminded of this concerto when Stephen Dodgson’s widow, Jane Clark,sent me the score recently. This is one of my favourite concertos and is full of the feel of summer.

As  nice comparison, here is Dodgson’s flute concerto.

John Williams Queen Elizabeth Hall July 1989

selftaughtgirl has this to say about this wonderful concert, which most of the known guitar world in the UK at the time attended:

“John Williams gave a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (UK) on 19th July 1989 which was broadcast live on the radio. I was at the concert so a friend pressed the record button for me. I remember JW limping onto the stage as he had hurt himself playing tennis and also him reading the Ponce from the score. I last heard him only a couple of weeks ago playing two concertos at the RFH (the main hall next door to the QEH) and still on fine form.
Villa-Lobos: 5 Preludes
Ponce: Variations and fugue on “La Folia”
Brouwer:Elogio de la Danza, Berceuse, Danza Characteristica
Barrios: La Ultima Cancion, Cueca, Aconquija, Choro de Saudade, Waltzes Op 8 Nos 3 & 4
Piazzolla: Verano Portena (as encore)”


This is a marvellous record of a great performance. Thank you, selftaughtgirl!

A few years earlier, the newly reformed “John Williams and Friends”, of which I was a part, toured the UK, Ireland and Italy. Unlike this concert, there were quite a few hi jinx on stage (including Brian Gulland, taking a break from his bassoon duties,dressed as a chef and making an omelette while JW and I played some duets!).

Leo Brouwer: live at 1979 Eztergom Festival playing Weiss, Joplin, Brouwer, & Falla

selftaughtgirl’s recording of a radio broadcast from the 1980’s

Weiss: Sarabande
Joplin: Elite Syncopation
Brouwer: Danza Altiplana, Cradle Song
Joplin: The Entertainer
Falla: Danza del Corregidor
Brouwer: Study #6

It was around this time I went to the ORTF summer school in Arles instigated by Robert Vidal – heady days. We studied modern music (aleatoric and otherwise) with Leo in the morning and Baroque ornamentation with him in the afternoon. We were also part of his ensemble playing a piece by Juan Blanco. Other attendees included Ichiro Suzuki, a very young Costas Cotsiolis, Forbes Henderson, John Taylor, Raymond Couste, Alison Bendy, Steve Wingfield, Ben Verderey and many more.
At Arles I first heard the music of Bussotti, Mestres Quadreny, Ohana and of course, Brouwer, whose Canticum, Espiral Eterna and Parabola I played regularly in the late 70s and 80s. I wonder if there are some photos of the occasion. In the following year, I travelled again to Arles with John Williams.

Leo Brouwer, as he was when we first met

Brouwer at West Dean in 2009
Brouwer 2009



In March 2014, the University of Surrey will launch the International Guitar Research Centre. The research centre aims to establish an international hub for guitar-centred research in all styles of music.

Surrey has had a strong association with the guitar since the 1960’s when Reginald Smith-Brindle was Professor. In more recent times, the Guildford Guitar Weekend has become a permanent fixture in the annual cycle of significant guitar events in the UK. The University has a large cohort of guitarist PhD students and alumni.

The research centre will work in close affiliation with various partner institutions including the IGF (International Guitar Foundation, King’s Place, London), the IGRA (International Guitar Research Archive, CSUN, Los Angeles, California) and the University of São Paulo (Brazil).

The launch will comprise a two-day event on 29th and 30th March that will include academic papers, seminars, public discussions, lecture-recitals and concerts. Guest artists will include John Williams, Xuefei Yang, The Amadeus Guitar Duo, Bridget Mermikides, Declan Zapala and Michael Partington.

Here is the programme

Download (PDF, 548KB)

Yet even more Bream at the BBC


I know there has been rather a lot of Bream on telly recently (just look at the related links below), but if you live in the UK, you owe it to yourself to watch this marvellous programme  if you are one of the two or three guitarists who didn’t see it tonight.

The programme consisted mainly of complete performances of music played by Julian Bream on BBC TV over the last 40 years or so and shows his wide influence on the acceptance of the guitar as well as the revival of the renaissance lute. Also, his playing on live TV is magical.

Highlights for me were the 3rd movement of Malcolm Arnold’s concerto conducted by the composer, the Bream consort playing Byrd, Bream and George Malcolm, Bream and Williams playing Albeniz and Bream and Yussef Allie playing Nuages.
Well, OK most of it…

There is also a sense of a passing age seeing the two retired maestros Bream and Williams knocking the spots off most modern duos.

The link to playback is still active until 31stJanuary, so go get it if you haven’t seen it already!
I hope the BBC make this more widely available.
Other archive programmes so far include Menuhin at the BBC and Tortelier at the BBC.

Here is a bit about the programme

Petroc Trelawney presents the last in his series exploring the great classical stars through the BBC film archive. He spotlights the legendary British guitarist Julian Bream. Now 80 years old, Bream’s life and music were richly documented through regular appearances on television from the 1960s to the 1980s. Performances include Malcolm Arnold’s Guitar Concerto conducted by the composer, duets with John Williams, hot jazz, classical transcriptions and lute music performed with Bream’s own Early Music Consort.

John Williams: The Guitarist

This site is not about John Williams the film composer.
Try the John Williams Fan Network.
John Williams is not involved in any way with this site.
We are not directly in contact with each other. See the F.A.Q. for more information.” -Richard Sliwa

Nevertheless, this site has more information on John Williams the guitarist than you might ever need to know!
An interesting history of JW from his beginnings as a young guitarist to the publication of his biography “Strings Attached”, to his retirement through the most interesting era in the classical guitar’s evolution.
A fascinating read indeed.

John Williams first performance of Stevie Concerto by Patrick Gowers (1987)

Low ‘C’ sounds wonderful on the guitar.This recording was made shortly before I joined “John Williams and Friends” – heady days!
Thanks selftaughtgirl who says
“My recording of a live radio broadcast from the 1980s of the first performance by John Williams of the “Stevie” concerto by Patrick Gowers written in 1987. Sorry about the quality of the recording due to the noisy reception and the wobbly tape as well as the few seconds gap at the end as it didn’t quite fit on one side of a 60min tape. Hopefully Mr Williams’ great playing of a great piece still comes through.”

John Williams on the Les Dawson Show

In case you missed this when it went out.
Classic, and shows the humorous side of JW

Antiche Variazioni

Luigi Mozzani was a famous and respected guitarist who died in 1943. He also made guitars and travelled widely, living in England for 6 months. His most famous work is “Feste Lariane” the favourite of many an aspiring concert guitarist.
He lived in Bologna, which is where he had a large library of music in which Angel Gilardino found a neatly written manuscript of a solo guitar piece which was signed “Respighi” at both top and bottom. The one and the same person who wrote three orchestral suites called  Antiche arid e danze per liuto in 1917, 1923 and 1931.

He was evidently keen on the guitar and would have asked Mozzani, who lived in Bologna at the same period (1900-1909). It us very likely that Respighi wrote the guitar piece, not at the request of Mozzani, but as a study to learn about the instrument. He was a master at writing for different instruments and would have asked Mozzani for advice. However, it seems this was not forthcoming, and Respighi may have dropped the matter. Segovia subsequently came to know Respighi, but there is no mention of the piece or any attempt to write something for the maestro which we know of. I think the main problem with the Variazioni is that they are in quite unusual flat keys for the guitar, going from C major, through F, then Bb, G minor, C minor,Ab,  Db (eek!)Bb minor. Then he runs out of flat keys and the editor kindly puts us back into C major! Continue reading

The Midst of Life’ A Hearty Celebration of the Life and Music of STEPHEN DODGSON (1924-2013)

The Midst of Life: Celebrating the Life and Music of Stephen Dodgson

MAE Foundation

Thursday, October 3, 2013 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM (BST)

London, United Kingdom


The Tippett String QuartetMAE Foundation
John Williams (guitar)
Maggie Cole (harpsichord)
Richard Harvey (recorder)
Anna Noakes (flute)
Gillian Tingay (harp)
Zone 6 Brass Quintet
Roger Chase (viola)
Benedict Cruft (violin)
Brian Gulland (bassoon)
Tom Ellis (guitar)
and more… subject to availability

The Tippett String Quartet, who have recorded all nine of Stephen Dodgson’s quartets, and John Williams, who has played his music for 57 years, lead this wide-ranging celebration of his life and work.

Continue reading