Adrian Williams's multi-faceted career was launched with his winning the Menuhin Prize in 1978. Considered a child-prodigy with piano recital performances and first compositions at the age of 11, he went on to be a distinguished student of the Royal College of Music where he won a Leverhulme Scholarship.
Further achievements followed; during the 1980's he became composer-in-residence at Charterhouse School, established the Presteigne International Festival in Wales, won the Guinness Prize and undertook many commissions.
A gifted orchestrator, he also enjoys excursions into film and musical theatre - mediums as expressive of his creative personality as concert hall or church.
His more serious works embrace a variety of genres and styles, yet, despite their diversity, share familial turns of melodic phrase and rhythmic gesture, together with a common generosity of spirit.
The same tell-tale sound prints link and cross-reference scores as different as the precociously brilliant Solo Cello Sonata (1976-77), the tough Second String Quartet (1981), the harmonically lush, intricately orchestrated Tess (1982), the diatonically revelling Spring Sonata for violin and harp(1990), the emotionally anguished Spring Requiem for cello and piano (1993), or the terse, chaotic Aruga for flute, clarinet, harp and quartet (1996).
Despite a discerning ensemble catalogue (including the recent 1998 Chamber Concerto) and orchestral tour-de-forces like the early Symphonic Studies (1975-76) and his BBC commission Dies Irae (1988), many consider Adrian Williams's vocal settings (to texts by, among others, W.H.Davies, Alun Lewis and Louis MacNeice) to be his most personal achievement.
Springing from a deep love of English song in particular and 20th century British and Celtic romanticism in general, this music ties in well with the wild open countryside of Wales, perhaps the single strongest influence within his creative world.
However, from early 1999 he has been spending much of his time working in Japan, and this new era was heralded by Migrations for 22 solo strings, which received great critical and public acclaim at its Amsterdam Concertgebouw premiere.
Adapted from a biogrpahy by Ates Orga, © 1997.
Williams' publishers, Editions Max Eschig, have recently issued further printed editions of his music including The Doubting Light for string orchestra, Tinúviel's Dance for viola and piano, A Smile and Ashes for five solo voices and Seven Kilvert Sketches for solo bassoon.
- The Doubting Light (1991)
- "A November Sinfonia after John Clare" string orchestra
- Concerto (1997)
3 guitars, string orchestra
- My Heart is Steadfast
SATB chorus, bassoon
- A Smile and Ashes
- There is no Rose
- 5 Songs of W.H.Davies - 2nd Series
tenor voice and piano
- Chamber Concerto - "Portrait of Ned Kelly"
- String Quartet No.1 (1972)
2 violins, viola, cello
- String Quartet No.2 (1981)
2 violins, viola, cello
- String Quartet No.3 (1991)
2 violins, viola, cello
- Aruga (1996)
flute, clarinet, harp, 2 violins, viola, cello
- Quintet (1996)
accordion, 2 violins, viola, cello
- Quintet (1997)
horn, 2 violins, viola, cello
- 4 Cantilènes
'cello & piano
- Horseman, pass by
- 7 Kilvert Sketches (1979)
solo bassoon - duration: 10 minutes
Written whilst a student for Simon Durnford, each of these short pieces is headed by a quotation from the charming diaries of the late-19th century clergyman Francis Kilvert, who practised as a young curate in the hills of the mid Welsh border country. The quotations may be read aloud during the course of a performance.
In 1996 these pieces were adopted by celebrated bassoonist George Zukerman
- 3 Miniatures
flute and oboe
violin and piano
- Spring Requiem (1993)
cello and piano - duration: 15 minutes
An emotional reaction to the funeral in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, of the composer's former partner's father, in the spring of 1993. A very eastern European flavour permeates this piece, which depicts the clangour of bells, the cortege along the cemetery, trees hung with pink blossom. It is dedicated 'In memoriam Aleksandar Miletic'. There are four basic parts which run without a break, based loosely on sections of the Requiem Mass, beginning with a Dies Irae (which also depicts the out-of-tune totterings of the seemingly drunk cantor at the ceremony), Kyrie Eleison, Sanctus and In Paradisum.
The work fulfilled a commission from Raphael Wallfisch and John York for the 1993 Lower Machen Festival in South Wales. In 1996 it was used as a test piece for the Muriel Taylor Scholarship for young cellists.
- Tinúviel's Dance
viola and piano
- Toccata, Romance & Miniature Variations
viola & piano
- Where Chimneys Fall
- Images of a Mind (1986)
cello and piano - duration: 16 minutes
The inspiration for Images of a Mind came from the great Australian artist Sir Sidney Nolan, who died in 1992. Nolan lived and painted at his home near Presteigne on the Welsh border. Often the composer would come to his home to play the piano and compose. On one occasion Williams noticed a newly-painted self-portrait of Nolan as a young man which had been left to dry. He was so struck by it that during the period of work at the piano which followed, ideas for a new work for cello began to appear which seemed to him to reflect very personally the psyche of the artist. Nolan himself was deeply moved by the work which eventually appeared, saying that it revealed secrets he would long remember.
The first performance, at the 1986 Presteigne Festival, was given by Alexander Baillie accompanied by the composer. Baillie and Williams subsequently recorded it for a film to celebrate the 70th birthday of Sidney Nolan, another film entitled 'Images of a Mind" for Minerva Vision and S4C and also for BBC radio 3. Later the work was taken up by Raphael Wallfisch who performed it, also with the composer, again at Presteigne, in 1992, in the presence of the artist less than two months before his death. Wallfisch and John York gave it its Aldeburgh Festival debut in 1993.