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 Posted:   Sep 9, 2014 - 2:11 PM   
 By:   KonstantinosZ   (Member)

For quite some time now, I have found that Williams' Symphony which is unreleased, has been available here as a score to rent:
https://www.eamdc.com/composers/john-williams/works/symphony-no-1-7/

I had inquired about it in the past, but the price was too expensive for an individual (especially for me living in Greece).

I was wondering, hasn't any conductor or orchestra cared to rent and perform this?
The only reason I can find is that they don't know about it.
Otherwise, it seems unexplicable that an orchestra wouldn't like to discover the only Symphony of one of the best film composers ever lived..

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2014 - 2:16 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I've wondered about that myself. Knowing Williams' view of his own symphony, maybe he has the right to boycott such a performance, SUGARLAND EXPRESS-style? I can't believe that no orchestra in the world has attempted to perform it (outside its two performances in the 60s and 80s, respectively).

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2014 - 2:34 PM   
 By:   KonstantinosZ   (Member)

I've wondered about that myself. Knowing Williams' view of his own symphony, maybe he has the right to boycott such a performance, SUGARLAND EXPRESS-style? I can't believe that no orchestra in the world has attempted to perform it (outside its two performances in the 60s and 80s, respectively).

well, if he doesn't want it to be performed or something, how come the score is available at that site?
They could remove it completely on his request.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2014 - 3:05 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

True. Maybe he's not aware of its availability there.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 1:03 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

It was published. Not sure if one can "unpublish" something. You can disown it, like Kraftwerk disowns their early albums, but they are out there.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 1:21 PM   
 By:   governor   (Member)

"It's a good piece. I like the first movement, you have a good tune in there. What did ya cover it up for with all those effects, all that excessive orchestration ?"

Bernard Herrmann to John Williams

Page 259 of the first edition of A Heart at Fire's Center by Steven C. Smith.

Possibly the greatest biography ever written on a film composer.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 1:29 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

And possibly also why Williams keeps boycotting his own symphony.

Then again, Herrmann and Williams are so different in their approach -- the former with his more lean style, the latter with a more elaborate style -- so it's no wonder he felt that way. But I think Williams took the criticism hard; from one his heroes.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 1:34 PM   
 By:   governor   (Member)

I've wondered about that myself. Knowing Williams' view of his own symphony, maybe he has the right to boycott such a performance, SUGARLAND EXPRESS-style? I can't believe that no orchestra in the world has attempted to perform it (outside its two performances in the 60s and 80s, respectively).

One performance at the Royal Festival Hall in 1972 (which Herrmann attended), the other in Houston in 1968.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 1:39 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I've wondered about that myself. Knowing Williams' view of his own symphony, maybe he has the right to boycott such a performance, SUGARLAND EXPRESS-style? I can't believe that no orchestra in the world has attempted to perform it (outside its two performances in the 60s and 80s, respectively).

One performance at the Royal Festival Hall in 1972 (which Herrmann attended), the other in Houston in 1968.


I wasn't aware of the 72 one, but I believe it was also performed in the 80s. 1986, I believe -- also by a Texas orchestra. But I'm going by memory here.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 1:39 PM   
 By:   governor   (Member)

And possibly also why Williams keeps boycotting his own symphony.

Then again, Herrmann and Williams are so different in their approach -- the former with his more lean style, the latter with a more elaborate style -- so it's no wonder he felt that way. But I think Williams took the criticism hard; from one his heroes.


A heroe and a close friend.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 1:42 PM   
 By:   governor   (Member)

I've wondered about that myself. Knowing Williams' view of his own symphony, maybe he has the right to boycott such a performance, SUGARLAND EXPRESS-style? I can't believe that no orchestra in the world has attempted to perform it (outside its two performances in the 60s and 80s, respectively).

One performance at the Royal Festival Hall in 1972 (which Herrmann attended), the other in Houston in 1968.


I wasn't aware of the 72 one, but I believe it was also performed in the 80s. 1986, I believe -- also by a Texas orchestra. But I'm going by memory here.


I guess you're right. it was performed once in the late eighties.

He revised it to the point I read somewhere "symphony N°2" by John Williams


 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 2:11 PM   
 By:   Jeff Eldridge   (Member)

I wasn't aware of the 72 one, but I believe it was also performed in the 80s. 1986, I believe -- also by a Texas orchestra. But I'm going by memory here.

In February 1986, the Houston Symphony announced that Williams had programmed a revised version of the symphony on an April 1987 concert (along with his Essay for Strings and violin concerto). But by the time of the concert a year later, the symphony had been replaced with some film music selections.

 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 2:12 PM   
 By:   Jeff Eldridge   (Member)

He revised it to the point I read somewhere "symphony N°2" by John Williams

This likely referred to his Sinfonietta for Winds and Percussion.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2014 - 2:39 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Ah, so the 1986 was never performed. Thanks, that was news to me.

As Jeff points out, the confusion regarding 'two' symphonies on his resume, while the other is in fact a sinfonietta, is quite widespread.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 9, 2019 - 1:34 AM   
 By:   maurizio.caschetto   (Member)

Hi everyone,

On the website The Legacy of John Williams, here's a detailed chronological overview of Williams's early works for the concert hall, including a closer look to his almost-unknown Symphony No.1. I tried to be as thorough and precise as possible:

https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2019/10/08/john-williams-early-concert-works/

I hope you willl enjoy. I want also to acknowledge and thank Jeff Eldridge for his important work in finding a lot of resources on his website johnwilliams.org back in the day, all of which have been essential for the writing of this piece.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 9, 2019 - 3:24 AM   
 By:   Smaug   (Member)

Hi everyone,

On the website The Legacy of John Williams, here's a detailed chronological overview of Williams's early works for the concert hall, including a closer look to his almost-unknown Symphony No.1. I tried to be as thorough and precise as possible:

https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2019/10/08/john-williams-early-concert-works/

I hope you willl enjoy. I want also to acknowledge and thank Jeff Eldridge for his important work in finding a lot of resources on his website johnwilliams.org back in the day, all of which have been essential for the writing of this piece.


Living in Boston and having seen Williams there for decades, his biography in the Pops programs (and probably everywhere he goes) says that he has written TWO symphonies. I know some stuff about the one Previn conducted, and which was almost done in Houston. Regarding this “No.2”, I always assumed this was a reference to his Sinfonietta for Winds. Anyone have any info as to whether that is the case?

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 9, 2019 - 3:26 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Living in Boston and having seen Williams there for decades, his biography in the Pops programs (and probably everywhere he goes) says that he has written TWO symphonies. I know some stuff about the one Previn conducted, and which was almost done in Houston. Regarding this “No.2”, I always assumed this was a reference to his Sinfonietta for Winds. Anyone have any info as to whether that is the case?

No, I believe you're right. The confusion stems from the sinfonietta.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 9, 2019 - 7:24 AM   
 By:   lacoq   (Member)

Thank you Maurizio for a wonderfully written piece! Well done... I always enjoy your website!

 
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