The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






John Williams (composer)

Williams conducting the London Symphony Orchestra during therecording of the score for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Williams conducting the London Symphony Orchestra during the
recording of the score for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

John Towner Williams (born in New York, February 8, 1932) is one of the most widely recognized composers of film scores. He is often credited with the revival of the grand symphonic film score, specifically with his richly thematic and highly popular 1977 score to George Lucas' "Star Wars." While skilled in a variety of 20th century compositional idioms, his most familiar style may be described as a form of Neoromanticism, informed by the large-scale orchestral music of the late 19th century and that of Williams' film-composing predecessors. The influence of Korngold and other Hollywood Golden Age composers is strong in much of Williams' most famous work. Though the heroic, brassy music of films such as Star Wars, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark may be what Williams' is best known for, his long list of works include many scores for sensitive dramas and more experimental concert works.

Among his composing credits are:

He wrote the scores for several TV shows, including Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space and NBC Nightly News. Williams often works with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and has been nominated for 42 Academy Awards, of which he has won five (for Star Wars, Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler's List). He currently holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person and has the third most Oscar nominations in history.

In 1948, John Williams and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended UCLA (the University of California in Los Angeles). He also studied composition privately with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, who also taught another great film score composer, Jerry Goldsmith.

Williams returned to New York after service in the Air Force. There he went to the famous Juilliard School, one of the most well known music schools in America (Other famous alumni include Philip Glass and Itzhak Perlman). There he had piano lessons with Rosina Lhevinne . In New York, he worked as a jazz pianist.

Williams later returned to Los Angeles, where he started working in the film studios. There he worked with some of the finest film score composers of that time: Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman. He began his career composing TV scores.

From 1980 to 1993, Williams was the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. He still has close ties with the Pops and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), which have much overlap and both perform out of Boston's Symphony Hall. He conducts several concerts with the Boston Pops every year, particularly during their Holiday Pops season. He also frequently enlists the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the official chorus of the BSO, to sing choral music in his movie scores (such as Saving Private Ryan).

Williams has written various concert works, including concerti for flute, violin, trumpet, cello, and tuba.

He is an accomplished pianist, as can be heard in various scores in which he provides solos, as well as a handful of classical recordings.

Apart from the five Oscars he has won, Williams has also been the recipient of at least two Emmys, seventeen Grammies, an induction into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, and a 2004 Kennedy Center Honor.

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:

John Williams
  • John Williams at the Internet Movie Database

Last updated: 02-11-2005 09:57:12
Last updated: 05-01-2005 03:48:41