He inherited an interest in opera from his father, and before the age of seven he was going to performances at Llandudno and Manchester. He started with the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, but by the age of ten he had developed a taste for those of Richard Wagner as well.
He began piano lessons at the age of seven. By the age eleven he had passed Grades I-VIII, all with Distinction.
Williams was educated at Ysgol Hooson in Rhosllannerchrugog and Ysgol Morgan Llwyd in Wrexham, and then read music at The Queen's College, Oxford from 1995-1998, finishing with a First-Class degree and being awarded The Gibbs Prize in Music for outstanding performance in his final examinations. He attended the Royal Academy of Music as a postgraduate scholar and studied with Michael Dussek, Iain Ledingham, Hamish Milne, Julius Drake, and Irina Zaritskaya. He won every available prize at the Academy and received its highest academic award, the Diploma of the Royal Academy of Music (DipRAM) (2000). Upon graduating he was elected to a Shinn[disambiguation needed] Fellowship (2000-02), during the tenure of which he studied conducting and coaching singing.
In May 2002 Williams was selected for representation by the Young Concert Artists Trust. In the same year he won the Critics' Prize at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2003 he joined the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme. In 2004 he received an award of £20,000 from the Borletti Buitoni Trust, part of which he said he would spend on replacing the mechanics of his piano, which had become worn out through being played for six hours each day. In 2005 he received the Outstanding Young Artist Award from MIDEM Classique and the International Artist Managers' Association. In 2009 he was awarded the Glyndŵr Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales
In 2006 he released his first commercial recording, Chopin's Préludes, on the Quartz label.
He has two CDs on the Signum Classics label: a 2010 disc of music inspired by paintings or engravings, works by Mussorgsky, Debussy and Liszt and a 2012 disc of works by Liszt.
He has performed at the Edinburgh International Festival every year since 2002. In the same year he was appointed an official accompanist for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, a role he continues to fulfil. He made his Proms début in 2005, playing Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. Later that year he appeared in the Mozart Birthday Concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in aid of the Young Concert Artists Trust and Amnesty International. He has also performed in the Mostly Mozart Festival at the Barbican Arts Centre, the Cheltenham Festival, Amersham Festival, and Gregynog Festival and he has given more than fifty concerts as part of the Live Music Now! scheme.
Williams was the subject of a documentary film, Y Pianydd – Llŷr Williams on Sianel Pedwar Cymru (Channel Four Wales) (S4C). He has also appeared on S4C playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K467, Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K310, and Fantasia No. 3 in D minor, K397.
Sources and further information
- BBC Singer of the World in Cardiff
- Borletti Buitoni Trust
- 'Llyr Williams - A Pianist of Genius' on the S4C website
- News Wales: Wales orchestra tunes up for US tour
- Dorset County Council Sound of Sunshine project
- Artists' Biographies: Llŷr Williams, programme for the Mozart Birthday Concert (Queen Elizabeth Hall, Sunday 30 January 2005), p. 10
- Oxford University Faculty of Music Prize Information
- Oxford University Gazette, Nov 1995 - Award of Gibbs Prize
- Sain website