Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

Williams, Peter (Frederic)

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Williams, Peter (Frederic)

(b Wolverhampton, 14 May 1937). English musicologist and organist. He was a scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge (1955–62; BA 1958, MusB 1959), where he studied with Thurston Dart and Raymond Leppard, and where he took the doctorate in 1963 with a dissertation on English organ music and organs 1714–1830; from 1964 he studied the harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt. In 1962 he went to Edinburgh University as lecturer in music and subsequently became reader (1972), professor (1982) and dean (1984). In 1969 he was appointed director of the Russell Collection of harpsichords and clavichords at the university. He became professor at Duke University, North Carolina, in 1985, and director of its Center for Performance Practice studies in 1988. He was appointed John Bird professor at the University of Wales, Cardiff, in 1996. He became editor of the Organ Yearbook at its inception in 1970.

Williams is a clear and vigorous writer on music, with firm views on organ structure and history acquired during extensive research on European visits; he has also written on interpretation, notably concerning continuo accompaniment. In a manner characteristic of Dart’s pupils, his work shows a clearcut relationship between study of source material, instruments and practical performance, and his own thoughtful and often original harpsichord interpretations of, for example, Bach and Couperin have been praised. He has edited numerous volumes of keyboard music by Bach, Handel and others, and is general editor of Bach’s organ music for the New Oxford J.S. Bach Edition.


‘The Organ in the Church of St John, Wolverhampton’, The Organ, xli (1961–2), 8–15

English Organ Music and the English Organ under the First Four Georges (diss., U. of Cambridge, 1963)

‘J.S. Bach and English Organ Music’, ML, xliv (1963), 140–51

‘The First English Organ Treatise’, The Organ, xliv (1964–5), 17–32

‘Händel und die englische Orgelmusik’, HJb 1966, 51–76

The European Organ 1450–1850 (London, 1966/R, 2/1968)

‘Equal Temperament and the English Organ’, AcM, xl (1968), 53–65

‘The Harpsichord Acciaccatura: Theory and Practice in Harmony, 1650–1750’, MQ, liv (1968), 503–23

with S. Newman: The Russell Collection and Other Early Keyboard Instruments in Saint Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1968)

‘Basso Continuo on the Organ’, ML, l (1969), 136–52, 230–45

Figured Bass Accompaniment (Edinburgh, 1970)

‘The Earl of Wemyss' Claviorgan and its Context in Eighteenth-Century England’, Keyboard Instruments: Studies in Keyboard Organology, ed. E.M. Ripin (Edinburgh, 1971, 2/1977), 75–84

‘Some Recent Developments in Early Keyboard Instruments’, ML, lii (1971), 272–80

Bach Organ Music (London, 1972)

‘Bach's Seven Fughette’, MT, cxvi (1975), 653–7

‘Figurenlehre from Monteverdi to Wagner’, MT, cxx (1979), 476–9, 571–3, 648–50, 816–18

A New History of the Organ from the Greeks to the Present Day (London, 1980)

The Organ Music of J.S. Bach (Cambridge, 1980–84/R)

‘The Musical Aims of J.S. Bach's “Clavierübung III”’, Source Materials and the Interpretation of Music: a Memorial Volume to Thurston Dart, ed. I. Bent (London, 1981), 259–78

‘A Toccata in D minor for Organ by J.S. Bach?’, EMc, ix (1981), 330–37

‘J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: a New Approach’, EMc, xi (1982), 46–52, 332–9

‘J.S. Bach Orgelsachverständiger unter dem Einfluss Andreas Werckmeisters?’, BJb 1982, 131–42; 1986, 123–5

‘The Snares and Delusions of Musical Rhetoric: some Examples from Recent Writings on J.S. Bach’, Alte Musik: Praxis und Reflexion, ed. P. Reidemeister and V. Gutmann (Winterthur, 1983), 230–40

ed.: Bach, Handel, Scarlatti: Tercentenary Essays (Cambridge, 1985) [incl. ‘Figurenlehre in the Keyboard Works of Bach, Handel and Scarlatti’, 327–46]

‘Was Johann Sebastian Bach an Organ Expert or an Acquisitive Reader of Andreas Werckmeister?’, JAMIS, xii (1986), 38–54

with B. Owen: The Organ (London, 1988)

‘Theophilus and Early Medieval Technology’, Organ Yearbook, xxii (1991), 95–117

ed., with R.L. Todd: Perspectives on Mozart Performance (Cambridge, 1991) [incl. ‘Mozart and the Chromatic Fourth’, 204–27]

The Organ in Western Culture, 750–1250 (Cambridge, 1993)

‘Two Case Studies in Performance Practice and the Details of J.S. Bach's Notation’, EMc, xxi (1993), 613–22; xxii (1994), 101–13

‘Towards A Close Reading of Philipp Emanuel Bach’, Eighteenth-Century Music in Theory and Practice: Essays in Honour of Alfred Mann, ed. M.A. Parker (Stuyvesant, NY, 1994), 143–58

‘The Idea of Bewegung in the German Organ Reform Movement of the 1920s’, Music and Performance during the Weimar Republic, ed. B. Gilliam (Cambridge, 1994), 135–53

The Chromatic Fourth During Four Centuries of Music (Oxford, 1997)

Music to Hear, or Fears for Higher Music Study (forthcoming)


Williams, Thomas

(fl 1682–1729). English organist and composer. He followed James Hawkins's brief tenure as organist of St John's College, Cambridge, in 1682, and was himself succeeded by Bernard Turner (fl 1729–77) in 1729. According to Thomas Tudway he was also ‘one of the choirs of King's and Trinity’, whether successfully or simultaneously is not clear. An organbook at St John's College (MS K52) is largely in his hand and contains services and anthems by him as well as pieces by William Child, Tudway, Batten and Henry Aldrich. Much of his Service in A minor is in triple time, but it is competent enough.


[Verse] Service, a (Mag, Nunc), GB-Lbl (score)

Service, E (TeD, Jub, Ky, Cr), Cjc* (inc.)

Service, G (TeD, Jub), Cjc* (inc.)

Chant, D, Ckc

3 anthems: Arise, shine, O Zion, Ckc, Cu (inc.), Lbl, Y; Come holy ghost, Cjc* (inc.); O clap your hands, Cjc* (inc.), Ckc* (score)

Doubtful: O sing unto the Lord, anthem, Cjc* (inc.)


H.W. Shaw: The Succession of Organists of the Chapel Royal and the Cathedrals of England and Wales from c.1538 (Oxford, 1991)

I. Spink: Restoration Cathedral Music, 1660–1714 (Oxford, 1995)


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