John Williams Interviews

John Williams is a titan in the guitar world. He’s held up as one of the most technically perfect and proficient guitarists in the world, and has an impressive discography.

Yet for all his accomplishments, John Williams has his detractors. People say he’s unmusical and all technique. In any case, there’s always something to learn from a performer like Williams. He’s been a professional musician for the past 50 years, and anyone with that kind of experience is worth listening to a little bit.

Since I’ll probably never get the change to interview Mr. Williams, let me point in the direction of some other interviews with him.

Text Interviews with John Williams

Classical Guitar Alive did an interview with John Williams is 1998. This was right after Williams released The Guitarist (aff.), so there is quite a bit of talk about the album and Williams’ outing as a composer (he recorded one of his own pieces for the album).

Next up is an interview with Williams by Austin Prichard-Levy. This interview is more broad in its reach and scope of topics. Williams discusses such things as competitions, whether or the guitar is hard to learn, and his switch to Smallman guitars.

Additionally, John Williams has appeared numerous times in Classical Guitar Magazine. February 1985, January 1990, May 1996, and September 2009 are all issues where John Williams was on the cover. If you’re interested, back issues of Classical Guitar Magazine are available from (I’m really not sure why magazines don’t sell digital copies of their back issues.)

Video Interviews with John Williams

First up is a modern interview with Williams from a documentary (titles welcome, I haven’t been able to figure it out).

Next up is a documentary exclusively about Williams. It’s in six parts on youtube, only the first is embedded here. This one is very interesting because of how in depth it is. In part two there are shots of Williams visiting Greg Smallman’s shop/house, which is fascinating — it seems like Smallman is some mythical figure now-a-days. This is taken from The Seville Concert DVD (aff).

Below is a very old interview with a very young John Williams. Again, this is in multiple parts, only the first is embedded here.

Posted on in Interviews with Classical Guitarists


  • William Bajzek

    “(I’m really not sure why magazines don’t sell digital copies of their back issues.)”

    +1. I think the publishing industry, like the record industry, is basically a bunch of dinosaurs. Why doesn’t Sony offer Williams’ enormous back catalog as digital downloads? I’m sure there’d be *some* overhead, but there’d be no manufacturing or inventory to deal with. iTunes carries the bandwidth and Sony just gets profit. It would require them to think differently, though.

    On the other hand, it may have something to do with a quote from a Steinway rep, that I read in “Romance on Three Legs,” in which the rep responded to Glenn Gould’s request (to have further maintenance performed on his favorite old piano) by saying that Steinway’s business is to sell NEW pianos, not to fix old ones.

  • Jim Tosone

    I had the pleasure to interview John Williams for my book “Classical Guitarists: Conversations”. Also inclusded i the book are interviews with Isbin, Fisk, Tanenbaum, Starobin, Leisner, and Bream, along with classical guitar composers Bennett, Kernis, and Crumb.

  • John Saldivar
    John Saldivar

    The best interview I have read dates back to the mid 70’s when he had just recorded the complete Bach lute music and was preparing to make his first Barrios record. He was interviewed by R. stover and answered all of my questions. I don’t particularly care to hear bad things about Segovia especially from him, although I am familiar with some of it and his fathers strict ways in fact!