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Do you think John Williams' symphony will ever be released?

John Wiliams' Symphony  

47 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you think John Williams' Symphony No. 1 will ever be recorded and released?

    • Yes, in just a few years
    • Yes, but not before Williams has passed away
    • Yes, but not in my own lifetime
    • No, never!!


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I know I just said I don't like speculation threads, so I guess I'm breaking my own rules here, but this is really more about the mechanisms at play that would allow a recording in the first place. I'm really clueless about such things, but maybe you know.

Btw, this is the first time I've made a poll topic here, so let's hope this works.

We all know he was dissatisfied with his symphony, which is why it only has been performed a couple of times and basically shelved.

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I don't think we'll ever see it, at least until he's alive.

Williams apparently is not happy with this work, hence why he withdrew from his official repertoire. It was performed oinly twice, the first time in 1969 in Houston, TX with André Previn conducting the Houston Symphony and then in 1972 in London, with Previn conducting the LSO. Williams planned to perform a revised version back in 1987-1988 for a concert with the Houston Symphony, but the work was subsituted at the last minute with some film music (paging Miguel for more accurate information! :))

I guess Williams never had the proper time to revise the work as he planned, so in the end he decided to abandon it. Well, who knows, maybe one day he'll find a renewed interest into it and will put it back on track. But considering Williams doesn't like to revisit too much his own older works, it's unlikely.

I do hope he'll write a new symphony sooner or later!

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If either of those 2 performances were recorded, MAYBE we'll see one of them released after JW has passed on.

But I can't see any other orchestra ever tracking down the sheet music, then performing and recording it. Just won't happen IMHO.

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If either of those 2 performances were recorded, MAYBE we'll see one of them released after JW has passed on.

But I can't see any other orchestra ever tracking down the sheet music, then performing and recording it. Just won't happen IMHO.

I would see it happening like this. IF one of those were recorded and IF one of them is released and IF the symphony is good, we might see some orchestra tracking down the sheet music and performing it. And maybe later, IF this happens, some orchestra could record it if someone was interested.

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I don't know if there are people here who were ever able to listen to it.

Anyhow, here's JW's own program notes and a small review of the piece that appeared back then on the press:

http://www.johnwilli...s/symphony.html

There's also a very funny anecdote told by Williams in Bernard Herrmann's biography A Heart at Fire's Center: Herrmann attended the London performance hiddening among the audience. Williams was in the lobby with Previn before the concert and they both saw Benny slipping away without making himself recognized. The day after the performance, he called Williams and told him: "There was a nice tune in the second movement. Why ya covered with all that stuff, with all that excessive orchestration?".

Pure Benny :)

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Yeah, I've heard that anecdote. Not sure if it's true or not, but if it is, it surely didn't boost Williams' self-esteem on the piece either!

By the way, I'm reminded of the opera project that ALMOST came to be a few years ago, when Placido Domingo and the LA Opera ALMOST managed to commision him for an opera. That would have been something! It's too bad that one of our time's greatest composers never gets to have a symphony and opera recorded and released, even though he has a gazillion concertos.

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Yep, too bad it never came to be. From what is known a libretto was commissioned to American music critic/novelist Michael Walsh, but Williams in the end decided to leave the project because he felt he wasn't good enough at vocal writing. The man is humble, really.

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Yep, too bad it never came to be. From what is known a libretto was commissioned to American music critic/novelist Michael Walsh, but Williams in the end decided to leave the project because he felt he wasn't good enough at vocal writing. The man is humble, really.

Well, he HAS a point. THOMAS AND THE KING was horrible. But he's written some fine, individual songs over the course of his career.

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I quite like Thomas and the King. There are some bad lyrics, but Williams didn't write those. I would've loved to hear his opera. And I would definitely like to hear his symphony, whether he composes a new one or records the old one. I find concertos to be, in general, some of the least accessible type of classical music, and even while JW's concertos are good (though I've only heard a few), I'm sure his symphony would be pretty powerful.

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Flawed though it may be, I am fascinated by those comments on what was in the symphony. I'd love to hear it.

And, yeah, writing for voice is no walk in the park. I took the better part of this semester working on my first art song, and I'm still not fully satisfied with it.

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From the liner notes to the Trumpet Concerto/Essay for Strings album:

In addition to his film music, Mr. Williams has written many concert pieces, including two symphonies...

Is this a misprint? I have only ever heard of the one.

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From the liner notes to the Trumpet Concerto/Essay for Strings album:

In addition to his film music, Mr. Williams has written many concert pieces, including two symphonies...

Is this a misprint? I have only ever heard of the one.

It's a common error, I'm afraid. Most likely a confusion due to the Sinfonietta for wind ensemble.

Anyway, I once read that he was writing a second symphony, sometime in the 70's, but I do find that rumor lacking any logic, since he never revised the first one -- or if he did, he wasn't satisfied with it.

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So far, we've yet to see official releases/recordings of:

Clarinet Concerto

Viola Concerto

Oboe Concerto

Also, the song cycle Seven for Luck is officially unreleased.

Was the Horn Concerto ever officially released..?

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The Horn Concerto was digitally released by Naxos. They also released the revised version of the Violin Concerto and will record this February the Cello Concerto. I believe the idea is to later have them released on CD together.

All the performances are by the Detroit Symphony under Williams champion Leonard Slatkin, using as soloists the principals of the orchestra.

On a side note, it might be interesting to point out that he Horn Concerto has become one of the most performed concert pieces by Williams.

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The Horn Concerto was digitally released by Naxos. They also released the revised version of the Violin Concerto and will record this February the Cello Concerto. I believe the idea is to later have them released on CD together.

All the performances are by the Detroit Symphony under Williams champion Leonard Slatkin, using as soloists the principals of the orchestra.

On a side note, it might be interesting to point out that he Horn Concerto has become one of the most performed concert pieces by Williams.

Thanks for the info! :)

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I have read a lot regarding one of Johnny's first concert pieces, mainly that it consited in three movements (one of them very jazzy) and that it also received a lot of criticism to which Williams agreed and decided not to perform the piece ever again.

So I naturally wonder... Has anyone around here had a chance to hear it in any form? It would be quite interesting to hear, even if it's not his best work for the concert hall.

Anyone?

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Is it good?

It's fascinating, but I can see why he eventually chose to abandon it. You can really see Williams working out certain technicalities -- mostly formal -- as he goes. It's not a train-wreck, it's just a bit of a workshop on paper.

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I think I understand what you're trying to say. It took Williams several concert works to establish his voice. His violin concerto (a lovely piece of work), for example, but doesn't have as much of a personality as his later concertos. You can hear the difference between that work and his second violin concerto on the Treesong CD. Almost as if he was too shy of his style at the time. Or maybe because he was still looking for one.

Karol

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In some interview Williams described all his concert works as exercises for himself rather than serious pieces of music. I have no idea how old that interview was, so he may have changed his mind since then. Interestingly, in a 1982 interview he said that the best piece of music he had written up to that point was the 1976 Violin Concerto. So it seems he may be a little conflicted about his views on his concert works.

Either way, a recording of his 1st symphony is definitely a holy grail of mine.

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I've read the score.

Really?

That's impressive. I had no idea it was available for viewing anywhere. I always assumed it was locked away in one of Williams' cabinets or something.

If the score sheets are out there, then maybe we'll see a recording of it after all.....some day.

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Really?

That's impressive. I had no idea it was available for viewing anywhere. I always assumed it was locked away in one of Williams' cabinets or something.

If the score sheets are out there, then maybe we'll see a recording of it after all.....some day.

Or a mock-up...

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Really?

That's impressive. I had no idea it was available for viewing anywhere. I always assumed it was locked away in one of Williams' cabinets or something.

If the score sheets are out there, then maybe we'll see a recording of it after all.....some day.

Or a mock-up...

To be clear, there's nothing floating around on the internet. I was shown Williams' original manuscripts by an official source.

Sorry, hope I'm not getting anyone's hopes up.

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Really?

That's impressive. I had no idea it was available for viewing anywhere. I always assumed it was locked away in one of Williams' cabinets or something.

If the score sheets are out there, then maybe we'll see a recording of it after all.....some day.

Or a mock-up...

To be clear, there's nothing floating around on the internet. I was shown Williams' original manuscripts by an official source.

Sorry, hope I'm not getting anyone's hopes up.

Huh. Well it still means that its not really locked away in Williams office forever. We might just get to hear it one day...

Does anyone think Williams will ever go back and work on it to his perfection?

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I've read the score.

Really?

That's impressive. I had no idea it was available for viewing anywhere. I always assumed it was locked away in one of Williams' cabinets or something.

If the score sheets are out there, then maybe we'll see a recording of it after all.....some day.

I'm sure I had written it somehwere here, but i can't find it.

The Symphony is availbale here for rental:

https://www.eamdc.com/composers/john-williams/works/symphony-no-1-7/

I tried to get it, but it was way too expensive for someone in Europe!

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I am surprised the score is available. I would have thought some symphony would have performed it in the last 20 years. To those who have read the score, does it seem like an engaging piece?

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