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


John Wiliams' Symphony  

57 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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Thanks all for the insights into this. It’s fascinating to read about JW’s symphony. But I’m completely perplexed about how liner and concert program notes can continually keep miscounting the quantity of a work that JW is clearly unsatisfied with and doesn’t consider as canon, when there are so many other works to pick from. Why highlight something like

that? Wouldn’t it get people curious about hearing it? And why hasn’t anyone in JW’s camp ever bothered to fix it? 

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The symphony has actually been performed three times. I found a concert review in The Guardian from July 10 1972, and the LSO and Previn performed the symphony in Nottingham, the day after the London

If anyone is interested, spoke with David Cripps from the LSO if he recalled playing John William's Symphony.  I thought for sure he would say no but he said "Oh yes, remember playing it with Andre Pr

A few years ago, FSM online posted a radio interview done in the UK in the late 70's where the host mentions two symphonies, and Williams didn't correct him.

@karelm that's quite an interesting theory, that makes a whole lot of sense, knowing how Williams is an admirer of 20th Century Russian composers.

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1 hour ago, Miguel Andrade said:

A few years ago, FSM online posted a radio interview done in the UK in the late 70's where the host mentions two symphonies, and Williams didn't correct him.

 

I remember that, but again -- he probably didn't want to correct him by saying "actually, one of them is a sinfonietta...". That would have been very out-of-character for him. In the interviews I've seen, he rarely -- if ever -- corrects interviewers who have something slightly wrong.

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On 3/21/2019 at 8:32 PM, Thor said:

 

I remember that, but again -- he probably didn't want to correct him by saying "actually, one of them is a sinfonietta...". That would have been very out-of-character for him. In the interviews I've seen, he rarely -- if ever -- corrects interviewers who have something slightly wrong.

 

Well, the term "Sinfonietta" can be kind of slippery musical terminology, so it might very well be that the "two symphonies" sometimes referred in biographic notes are indeed the "First Symphony" and the "Sinfonietta for Winds and Percussion".

 

In music history, the title Sinfonietta is used to refer a composition similar to a symphony, but reduced in length and size of the ensemble, or lighter in approach. However, there are full-blown composition like Janacek's Sinfonietta (probably the most famous of them all) which are absolutely comparable to a regular symphony.

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1 hour ago, TownerFan said:

 

Well, the term "Sinfonietta" can be kind of slippery musical terminology, so it might very well be that the "two symphonies" sometimes referred in biographic notes are indeed the "First Symphony" and the "Sinfonietta for Winds and Percussion".

 

In music history, the title Sinfonietta is used to refer a composition similar to a symphony, but reduced in length and size of the ensemble, or lighter in approach. However, there are full-blown composition like Janacek's Sinfonietta (probably the most famous of them all) which are absolutely comparable to a regular symphony.

 

Absolutely. Just as several of JW's concert works qualify as 'concerti', even if they don't have the 'concerto' title in them. Oftentimes, the lines are blurry.

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On 5/3/2019 at 9:03 PM, karelm said:

If anyone is interested, spoke with David Cripps from the LSO if he recalled playing John William's Symphony.  I thought for sure he would say no but he said "Oh yes, remember playing it with Andre Previn.  John T. Williams as he was called then, to differentiate from the better known (in those days) guitarist, John Williams, was there.  Previn conducted the rehearsal and they had a few words after but Williams left it to Previn."  So it seems we have eyewitness memory that the 1972 LSO concert of Williams' Symphony did in fact happen and was memorable enough to remember the rehearsal and subsequent concert at Covenant Garden (I think he said) but sadly, he didn't recall what it sounded like because they were playing new music all the time and JW wasn't famous yet.  Previn was actually far more famous as both film composer and conductor so it makes sense that JW would rely on Previn's interpretation and performance.  Maybe someone can reach out to the archivist to see if the concert was recorded or if program notes might provide more info.  David was a bit surprised there is no score available and no subsequent performance but it seems the 1972 concert performance of Johnny's Symphony did infact happen.  I wonder if Gramaphone magazine has a concert review from that time.

 

Thanks for these insights, karelm! It's always great to hear from people who have a first-hand account. Btw, check your PMs.

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On 5/3/2019 at 8:03 PM, karelm said:

So it seems we have eyewitness memory that the 1972 LSO concert of Williams' Symphony did in fact happen and was memorable enough to remember the rehearsal and subsequent concert at Covenant Garden (I think he said) but sadly, he didn't recall what it sounded like because they were playing new music all the time and JW wasn't famous yet.

 

As Maurizio mentions earlier in this thread, John Williams speaks in Steven C. Smith's excellent Bernard Herrmann biography A Heart at Fire's Center about the London performance of his symphony and clearly refers to the concert having taken place at the Royal Festival Hall in 1972.  Williams spoke to the author in 1984, so close enough to the date to make it unlikely that he would have misremembered the venue.

 

As the Royal Festival Hall is on London's south bank, I wonder if the reference to Covent Garden could be the rehearsal venue?  Kingsway Hall, where Charles Gerhardt recorded most of his classic film scores series, was a popular venue for concerts, rehearsals and recordings throughout the 1970s and was located just off Kingsway between Covent Garden and Holborn.  The building was demolished in the late 1990s and is now the site of a hotel bearing the same name.

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2 hours ago, Omen II said:

 

As Maurizio mentions earlier in this thread, John Williams speaks in Steven C. Smith's excellent Bernard Herrmann biography A Heart at Fire's Center about the London performance of his symphony and clearly refers to the concert having taken place at the Royal Festival Hall in 1972.  Williams spoke to the author in 1984, so close enough to the date to make it unlikely that he would have misremembered the venue.

 

As the Royal Festival Hall is on London's south bank, I wonder if the reference to Covent Garden could be the rehearsal venue?  Kingsway Hall, where Charles Gerhardt recorded most of his classic film scores series, was a popular venue for concerts, rehearsals and recordings throughout the 1970s and was located just off Kingsway between Covent Garden and Holborn.  The building was demolished in the late 1990s and is now the site of a hotel bearing the same name.

 

Thanks for correcting me on the venue, I did forget which one it was but was sure it wasn't the Royal Albert Hall.  It was me who forget which venue it was not him. 

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7 minutes ago, Harald said:

Yes, I'm Norwegian:) I have been reading the forum for years, but never posted anything and just joined the forum now.

 

This surely has to be one of the best ever first posts here! Thanks for the article; reading it makes me want to hear the symphony all the more now. 

 

I really hope JW will revisit it one day and let it come out. 🙏🏻

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm wondering how much I'd actually like listening to the symphony if it ever gets released. Being an early work of his, it probably sounds quite "modern" or inaccessible such as the Sinfonietta and early concerts, and judging by the above review, the outer movements will quite possibly disappoint. Hopefully, the middle movement is a gem.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 year later...

We can only hope that Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will record JW's First Symphony together with the remaining concerti under the NAXOS label (come on get a move on with the Clarinet and Trumpet concertos)!!!!

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7 hours ago, Hitch said:

We can only hope that Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will record JW's First Symphony together with the remaining concerti under the NAXOS label (come on get a move on with the Clarinet and Trumpet concertos)!!!!

 

The Trumpet one has been already recorded, but the performance had some obvious issues (they are all live recordings) and it's the probable reason for no release so far. They also recorded the Oboe Concerto.

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