(b London, 8 May 1893; d Worthing, 7 Sept 1978). English arranger, composer and conductor. In an early career as a violinist he performed with Beecham and Elgar and, like many of his contemporaries, also played for silent films. Williams contributed many scores for films before World War II, often uncredited on-screen, working alongside Mathieson and Nicholas Brodszky, and assisting on the first British sound-film, Alfred Hitchock's Blackmail. He finally achieved fame in 1947 when he wrote The Dream of Olwen for the film While I Live. While owing its success partly to its similarity to Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, Williams's own mini-concerto became highly popular worldwide. A similar piece, Jealous Lover, reached the top of the US bestsellers when rediscovered in 1960 for the film The Apartment. He scored for over 20 feature films, and was the musical director for at least six more.
From 1941 Williams wrote and conducted numerous works for Chappell's Recorded Music Library, using the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra. This was the source of much of the music heard in wartime newsreels, and it also included Devil's Galop, which the BBC chose for the radio programme ‘Dick Barton’ in the late 1940s. Among many other themes by Williams were Girls in Grey (BBC ‘Television Newsreel’) and High Adventure (‘Friday Night is Music Night’). From 1946 he recorded many important light music works for EMI's Columbia label.
Orch: The Blue Devils, 1929; The Future, 1942; Sunset at Sea, 1942; Village Church, 1942; Girls in Grey, 1943; Rhythm on Rails, 1943; The Voice of London, 1943; Devil's Galop, 1944; The Old Clockmaker, 1945; Sleepy Marionette, 1946; Starlings, 1946; Commentator's March, 1949; A Quiet Stroll, 1951; High Adventure, 1951; The Young Ballerina, 1951; Heart O'London, 1952; Sidewalk, 1952; Hills of Brecon, 1953
Film scores: The Thirty-Nine Steps, 1935; Kipps, 1941; The Night has Eyes, 1942; The Way to the Stars, 1945; Noose, 1946; While I Live, 1947 [incl. The Dream of Olwen]; Flesh and Blood, 1951; The Apartment, 1960 [title theme: Jealous Lover]
Williams, Charles Francis Abdy
(b Dawlish, 16 July 1855; d Milford, 27 Feb 1923). English organist, writer on music, composer and violinist. Having studied at Cambridge (1875–8), he went to New Zealand, where he played the organ at St Mary's, Auckland, and founded a glee club. Returning to England in 1879, he became organist and music master at Dover College in 1881. In 1882 he entered the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied with Reinecke. As organist of St Mary's, West Brompton, London (1885–91), he did much to improve musical standards. Taking up the study of ancient Greek music and plainchant, he carried out research in Italy, Belgium and France. His writings and lectures led to his appointment at Bradfield College: for the annual Greek play he provided music based on authentic forms and taught the boys to play auloi and lyres constructed on ancient models. He trained the priests of Capri in the Solesmes system of chant in 1904. He also wrote some church music, chamber music and some incidental music for the Bradfield plays.
W.J.Smith: Five Centuries of Cambridge Musicians 1464–1964 (Cambridge, 1964)
J.A. FULLER MAITLAND/JOHN WARRACK
Williams, Charles Melvin.
(b Plaquemine, LA, 8 Oct ?1893; d New York, 6 Nov 1965). American jazz and popular pianist and publisher. He moved to New Orleans in 1906 and travelled with a minstrel show as a singer and dancer in 1911. After returning to New Orleans he began a music publishing venture (c1915) with A.J. Piron. Later in the decade he moved briefly to Chicago and then permanently to New York, where he founded a music publishing firm and several music stores; he also organized many recording sessions, principally for Okeh (1923–30). The most important of Williams’s groups was the Blue Five. Although noted more for its instrumental recordings made under Williams’s name, including Cakewalking Babies from Home with Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet (1925, OK), this group was principally an accompanying band for blues and vaudeville singers. Williams also made nearly 100 recordings with his ‘washboard’ bands.
Although he recorded more frequently than any other black musician of the 1920s (apart from Fletcher Henderson), Williams was a dependable rather than an exceptional pianist; his importance to early jazz lay instead in his gift for organization. He published and promoted the work of such composers as Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Willie ‘the Lion’ Smith and, most notably, Spencer Williams. His many publications (in which he may have been involved as co-composer) include Royal Garden Blues, Baby, won’t you please come home, I ain’t gonna give nobody none of my jelly roll, ’Tain’t nobody’s business if I do and Squeeze me.
B.Rust: ‘Clarence Williams: an Appreciation’, Storyville, no.13 (1967), 25–7
L.Wright: ‘Looking Back with Eva’, Storyville, no.14 (1967–8), 17–24; no.15 (1968), 18–22; no.16 (1968), 19–22 [interviews]
D.M.Bakker: Clarence Williams on Microgroove (Alphen aan de Rijn, 1976)