Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Technological University Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama, 2018.


This thesis examines the career of the Australian guitarist John Williams and his impact upon the culture of the classical guitar. Williams has been a celebrated guitarist for more than six decades and has performed and recorded extensively during that period. He has made a remarkably varied contribution to guitar culture, performing in a wide variety of different styles, highlighting the guitar’s unique strength as a versatile and adaptable instrument. Williams’ career is in marked contrast to that of many of his contemporaries, including his mentor Andrés Segovia. Segovia believed the classical guitar must assert its individuality in order to be accepted as a concert instrument. Although Segovia attempted to disassociate the classical guitar from its usage in more popular and folk genres, John Williams’ approach has been more inclusive and his work has forged links between the various musical styles into which the guitar has adapted. His work reflects the diversity of the guitar and has helped to develop new voices within the realm of contemporary guitar repertoire.

This study examines reception of Williams’ work, and explores the impact of his career up to the present time. His own reflections on music are studied with the inclusion of an extensive interview, conducted in 2017 in London. The various strands of music drawn together by his career are examined and reviewed as a singular and significant contribution to guitar culture.