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Williams, John

John Williams

composer, conductor

Started Career as Studio Pianist

Star Wars Created New Dimension

Resigned From Pops

Selected compositions

Selected discography

Sources

In recent decades the American whose music is heard by the most people at home and abroad is probably not George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Michael Jackson, or Bruce Springsteen, William Livingstone claimed in Stereo Review, but the film composer John Williams. Indeed, having written the musical scores for ten of the Top 12 money-making motion pictures of all timeStar Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, and E. T The Extraterrestrial among themWilliams has been assured of a vast audience. But his music has been not merely an accompaniment to the action on the screen; it stands alone. His soundtracks have sold into the millions. And Williamss dozen-year tenure as director of the Boston Pops, one of the worlds most widely recognized orchestras, has further ensconced his name and music in the minds of contemporary listeners.

Williamss commitment to quality was evidenced early on. Born in 1932, in Flushing, New York, Williams first studied piano at the age of six. By the time he was in grade school, this son of a CBS radio orchestra percussionist had learned to play bassoon, cello, clarinet, trombone, and trumpet. He also organized a small band, but found that since the clarinet and piano are in different keys, they could not be played from the same music. Not to be thwarted, he learned to transpose the music. I used to sit in the basement of our house... and pour over orchestration books, he recalled to Richard Dyer in Ovation. I applied the principles of Rimsky-Korsakov to the pop tunes of 1940 and 1941, and by the time our band was in high school, we were already quite sophisticated. In effect, his writing and orchestration career had begun.

Started Career as Studio Pianist

Around 1950, Williams attended UCLA and Los Angeles City College, concentrating on the study of orchestration. He also studied composition privately with Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, Williams played, conducted, and arranged music for military bands. In 1954, after having completed two years of military duty, Williams enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, studying piano with Madame Rosina Lhevinne. When his apprenticeship at the conservatory ended, he played jazz piano in nightclubs. Williams returned to Los Angeles in 1956, securing his first job with the film industry as a studio pianist. Among Williamss first projects was South Pacific.

But his talent lay in composition and orchestration, and established film composers such as Bernard Herrmann,

For the Record

Born John Towner Williams, February 8, 1932, in Flushing, NY; son of John (a percussionist) and Esther Williams; married Barbara Ruick, c. 1956 (died, 1974); married Samantha Winslow (a photographer), 1980; children: (first marriage) Jennifer, Mark, Joe. Education: Attended University of California, Los Angeles; studied orchestration with Robert van Epps at Los Angeles City College; studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, c. 1950-1952; studied piano with Rosina Lhevinne at Juilliard School of Music, 1954-55.

Composer and conductor. Worked as jazz pianist in New York City nightclubs, c. 1954-55; pianist for Columbia Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox staff orchestras, beginning in 1956; album arranger, late 1950s and early 1960s; composer of film scores and television theme music, 1960; conductor and music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, 1980-93; artist-in-residence at Tanglewood Music Center, 1993. Frequent guest conductor.

Selected awards: Seventh Annual Career Achievement Award, Society for the Preservation of Film Music, 1991; numerous Academy Award nominations; Academy awards for best original film score or song for Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, Star Wars, and E. T. The Extraterrestrial; 16 Grammy awards; two Emmy awards; three Golden Globe awards; honorary degrees from numerous institutions including Boston University, New England Conservatory of Music, Tufts University, and the University of Southern California; numerous gold and platinum records.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, CA. Agent Michael Gorfaine, The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, Inc., 3301 Barham Blvd., No. 201, Los Angeles, CA 90068.

Alfred Newman, and Franz Waxman took note, encouraging him to orchestrate their material and pursue his own creations. Working for Columbia Pictures, Williams also arranged albums for such diverse Columbia Records artists as singer Vic Damone and gospel star Mahalia Jackson. At this same time, he was also under contract to write music for television series, often for as many as 39 programs a season. The workshop intensity forced Williams to compose and adapt music to almost any settingan invaluable ability for his upcoming career.

In 1960 Williams scored his first film, Because Theyre Young, starring Dick Clark. Neither the film nor the score made a lasting impression, but his work for television was soon recognized with Emmy and Grammy nominations and awards, and his musical screen credits began to mount. Albeit with notable exceptions, Williamss subsequent film scoring career can be divided chronologically into four genres: comedies, musicals, disasters, blockbusters.

Light comedic fare like Bachelor Flat and Gidget Goes to Rome marked his first phase, which Williams described to Ovations Dyer as having lots of brass chords on cuts to brassieres. Hollywood began recognizing his work during the 1960s with Academy Award nominations, but it wasnt until his second phase that an award was finally bestowedhe was given an Oscar for his work on the 1971 film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof. Popular recognition for Williams finally came in the mid-1970s when the film market was flooded with several disaster movies he had scored, including The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, and culminating in the unforgettable 1975 release Jaws. The menacing two-note phrase signaling the approach of the shark has become one of the most famous leitmotifs in contemporary film. Jaws earned Williams two Academy awards and marked the beginning of his long and fruitful collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, out of which would come two more award-winning productions1977s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1982s E. T. The Extraterrestrial.

Star Wars Created New Dimension

Another directorial wunderkind, George Lucas, selected Williams to score his mythic fantasy Star Wars in 1977. The resultant composition placed Williams in his final phase and at the forefront of modern film composers. I have no pretensions about that score, which I wrote for what I thought was a childrens movie, he told Livingstone in Stereo Review. All of us who worked on it thought it would be a great Saturday-morning show. None of us had any idea that it was going to become a great world success. The music Williams created, expansive and symphonic in character, has almost become standard concert material, taking on its own life apart from the movie. Some critics, like Dyer, believed the music not only transcended the movie but helped define it: There is a sense in which the music really created the characters of Star Wars when anyone thinks of Princess Leia, does he [or she] remember Carrie Fisher, or the sinuous flute theme that transmutes her into a gorgeous creature of myth?

With such thorough successes, it was surprising when Williams, at the top of his field, accepted the position as conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1980. The then 95-year-old orchestra had previously been led by the venerable Arthur Fiedler, who died after a 50-year reign that made The Pops and Fiedler nearly synonymous. But famed conductor André Previn, who encouraged Williams to pursue and accept the position, believed Williams had something to offer the Boston Pops. He knows the orchestra from the point of view of the man with the pencil, and that means intimately, Previn was quoted as saying by Daniel B. Wood in the Christian Science Monitor. He can make superlative arrangements of pop materials, and he can edit, fix, handle anything that comes up in someone elses arrangement, make it better, and all in a matter of minutes.

With his classical compositional training and his experience in jazz, Williams gave the Pops a broader musical sensibility while continuing, and even expanding, its popular appeal. He took the Pops on tour to Japan and the Far East, exposing audiences to a repertoire previously unheard in those regions. He also continued to create lauded scores for the biggest movies of the 1980s and early 1990s, including the Indiana Jones series, Home Alone, and JFK.

Resigned From Pops

Williams announced his resignation from the Boston Pops effective at the end of the 1993 season. His tenure had been productive and satisfying, and, as he explained to Dyer, this time in the Boston Globe, With every birthday ending in a zero, you want to reconsider and reprioritize your life. Scaling back his conducting and film scoring responsibilities to move beyond his past accomplishments in pursuit of a deeper challenge, Williams was serving as an artist-in-residence at the classically oriented Tanglewood Music Center. All through the last 30 years Ive done so much composing, he explained to Andrew L. Pincus in the Berkshire Eagle, but most of its been to orderfilm music and background music of a kind of utilitarian nature. Ive always wished that somewhere along the line in life there could be time and the opportunity for a little more thoughtful composition.

Time is definitely on the side of this prolific artist. Showered with accolades and celebrity, Williams remains resolutely devoted to a stalwart ideal behind the production of his work: Will it be good enough? he explained to Livingstone. That keeps me going, and that challenge is the key to my obsession with what I am doing in my work.

Selected compositions

Film scores

Because Theyre Young, Columbia, 1958.

Gidget Goes to Rome, Columbia, 1963.

Valley of the Dolls, Twentieth Century Fox, 1967.

Goodbye Mr. Chips, MGM, 1969.

Jane Eyre, British Lion, 1971.

Fiddler on the Roof, United Artists, 1971.

The Poseidon Adventure, Twentieth Century Fox, 1972.

Cinderella Liberty, Twentieth Century Fox, 1973.

Earthquake, Universal, 1974.

The Towering Inferno, Twentieth Century Fox/Warner Bros., 1974.

Jaws, Universal, 1975.

Star Wars, Twentieth Century Fox, 1977.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Columbia, 1977.

Superman, Warner Bros., 1978.

Dracula, Twentieth Century Fox, 1979.

The Empire Strikes Back, Twentieth Century Fox, 1980, reissued, Varese Sarabande, 1992.

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paramount, 1981.

E. T The Extraterrestrial, Universal, 1982.

Return of the Jedi, Twentieth Century Fox, 1983.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Paramount, 1984.

Empire of the Sun, Warner Bros., 1987.

The Witches of Eastwick, Warner Bros., 1987.

The Accidental Tourist, Warner Bros., 1988.

Born on the Fourth of July, Universal, 1989.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Paramount, 1989.

Presumed Innocent, Warner Bros., 1990.

Home Alone, Twentieth Century Fox, 1990.

JFK, Warner Bros., 1991.

Hook, Tri-Star, 1991.

Far and Away, Imagine Entertainment, 1992.

Home Alone 2, Arista, 1992.

Compositions broadcast on television include the Mission Theme for NBC News; Olympic Fanfare and Theme for the 1984 Summer Olympics; The Olympic Spirit for the 1988 Summer Olympics; and music for the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Other compositions include two symphonies; bassoon, clarinet, flute, and violin concertos; an Essay for Strings; and chamber music pieces.

Selected discography

With the Boston Pops

Pops in Space, Philips, 1981.

Pops on the March, Philips, 1981.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Philips, 1981.

Pops Around the World, Philips, 1982.

On Stage, Philips, 1984.

(With James Ingram)America, the Dream Goes On, Philips, 1985.

(With Dudley Moore)ProkofievPeter and the Wolf, Philips, 1985.

Swing, Swing, Swing, Philips, 1986.

Pops in Love, Philips, 1987.

HoistThe Planets, Philips, 1988.

Pops Brittania, Philips, 1989.

Music of the Night: Pops on Broadway, Sony Classical, 1990.

I Love a Parade, Sony Classical, 1991.

The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration, Sony Classical, 1991.

The Green Album, Sony Classical, 1992.

Iberia, Sony Classical, 1992.

Kid Stuff, PolyGram, 1992.

Joy to the World, Sony.

Night Before Christmas.

Sources

Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA), July 19, 1992.

Boston Globe, July 24, 1992.

Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 1985.

High Fidelity/Musical America, May 1981; September 1981.

Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1991; December 21, 1991.

Ovation, June 1983.

Stereo Review, July 1988; September 1988.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, Inc., 1992.

Rob Nagel

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Williams, John

WILLIAMS, John



Composer. Nationality: American. Born: John Towner Williams, Long Island, New York, 8 February 1932; credited as Johnny Williams during early career. Education: Attended University of California, Los Angeles; Juilliard School, New York; studied with Castelnuovo-Tedesco and others. Military Service: U.S. Air Force, 1951–54. Career: Composer and conductor; 1960–62—music for TV series Checkmate; 1980–93—conductor, Boston Pops Orchestra. Awards: Academy Awards, for Fiddler on the Roof, 1971, Jaws, 1975, Star Wars, 1977, E.T.—The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982, and Schindler's List, 1993; British Academy Award, for Jaws and The Towering Inferno, 1975, Star Wars, 1977, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980, E.T.—The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982, Empire of the Sun, 1987, and Schindler's List, 1993.


Films as Composer:

1960

I Passed for White (Wilcox); Because They're Young (Wendkos)

1961

The Secret Ways (Karlson)

1962

Bachelor Flat (Tashlin)

1963

Stark Fear (Hockman) (co); Gidget Goes to Rome (Wendkos); Diamond Head (Green)

1964

The Killers (Siegel)

1965

None but the Brave (Sinatra); John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (Lee Thompson)

1966

Penelope (Hiller); How to Steal a Million (Wyler); Not with My Wife, You Don't! (Panama); The Rare Breed (McLaglen); The Plainsman (Rich)

1967

A Guide for the Married Man (Kelly); Fitzwilly (Delbert Mann); Valley of the Dolls (Robson)

1968

Storia di una donna (Story of a Woman) (Bercovici); Sergeant Ryker (Kulik)

1969

The Reivers (Rydell)

1970

Jane Eyre (Delbert Mann—for TV); Daddy's Gone a-Hunting (Robson)

1971

The Cowboys (Rydell)

1972

The Screaming Woman (Smight); Images (Altman); The Poseidon Adventure (Neame); Pete 'n' Tillie (Ritt)

1973

The Long Goodbye (Altman); The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (Sarafian); Cinderella Liberty (Rydell); The Paper Chase (Bridges)

1974

Sugarland Express (Spielberg); Conrack (Ritt)

1975

The Towering Inferno (Guillermin); Earthquake (Robson); Jaws (Spielberg); The Eiger Sanction (Eastwood)

1976

Family Plot (Hitchcock); The Missouri Breaks (Penn); Black Sunday (Frankenheimer); Midway (The Battle of Midway) (Smight)

1977

Star Wars (Lucas); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg)

1978

Jaws II (Szwarc); Superman (Donner); The End (Reynolds); The Fury (De Palma); The Deer Hunter (Cimino)

1979

Dracula (Badham)

1980

1941 (Spielberg); The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner)

1981

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg); Heartbeeps (Arkush)

1982

Yes, Giorgio (Schaffner); Monsignor (Perry); E.T.—The Extra-Terrestrial (Spielberg)

1983

Return of the Jedi (Marquand)

1984

The River (Rydell); Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Spielberg)

1986

SpaceCamp (Winer)

1987

The Witches of Eastwick (Miller); Empire of the Sun (Spielberg); Jaws: The Revenge (Sargent); Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (Nimoy)

1988

The Accidental Tourist (Kasdan)

1989

Born on the Fourth of July (Stone); Always (Spielberg); Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg)

1990

Home Alone (Columbus); Presumed Innocent (Pakula); Stanley and Iris (Ritt)

1991

JFK (Stone); Hook (Spielberg)

1992

Far and Away (R. Howard); Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (Columbus)

1993

Jurassic Park (Spielberg); Schindler's List (Spielberg)

1995

Sabrina (Pollack); Nixon (Stone)

1996

Sleepers (Levinson)

1997

Rosewood (Singleton); The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Spielberg); Seven Years in Tibet (Annaud); Amistad (Spielberg)

1998

Saving Private Ryan (Spielberg); Stepmom (Columbus)

1999

Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (Lucas); Angela's Ashes (Parker)

2000

The Patriot (Emmerich)

Other Films:

1959

Gidget (Wendkos) (arranger)

1970

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Ross) (mus d)

1971

Fiddler on the Roof (Jewison) (mus d)

1973

Tom Sawyer (Taylor) (mus d)

Publications

By WILLIAMS: articles—

In Knowing the Score, by Irwin Bazelon, New York, 1975.

Films and Filming (London), July and August 1978.

Radio Times (London), 17–23 May 1980.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), March 1982.

Cue Sheet (Hollywood), vol. 8, no. 1, March 1991.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), September 1993.

Film Score Monthly (Los Angeles), December 1995.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), March 1996.


On WILLIAMS: articles—

Films Illustrated (London), May 1972.

Focus on Film (London), Summer 1972.

Ecran (Paris), September 1975.

Caps, John, in Film Music Notebook (Calabasas, California), vol. 2, no. 3, 1976.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), October 1978.

Cook, Page, in Films in Review (New York), October 1979.

Filmcritica (Rome), April 1983.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), June 1985.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), September 1985.

Segnocinema (Vicenza), vol. 8, no. 33, May 1988.

Film Score Monthly (Los Angeles), January/February/March 1996.

Variety (New York), 22/28 January 1996.

Segnocinema (Vicenza), vol. 8, no. 33, May 1988.

Positif (Paris), no. 452, October 1998.


* * *

The success of John Williams as a film composer can easily be understood by the mere listing of his number of awarded Oscars and Oscar nominations. His first Oscar was as the music director of Fiddler on the Roof; the others are for original compositions: Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., and Schindler's List. Also nominated were Valley of the Dolls, The Reivers, The Poseidon Adventure, Cinderella Liberty, The Towering Inferno, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and The River.

Williams began his musical education at the University of California, Los Angeles, studying composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Following military service, he studied piano with Rosina Lhevinne at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, with the object—like many successful film score composers before him—of pursuing a musical career on the concert stage not the sound stage. In Williams' case, he wanted to be a concert pianist. As Williams was also adept at jazz piano, he was able to find work and support himself doing recording sessions. This experience enabled him to gain employment as a studio pianist when he returned to Los Angeles in the early 1950s. By the mid-1950s, he had drifted into arranging then scoring title themes (many with a jazz motif) and background music under the name Johnny Williams for countless television programs during what is now known as The Golden Age of Television. His TV work at this time included just about every major and minor hit series. Among them: Alcoa Presents, General Electric Theater, Kraft Music Hall, Playhouse 90, Tales of Wells Fargo, Bachelor Father, Wagon Train, M Squad, Checkmate, The Virginian, Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants. Some of his TV show themes—notably those for M Squad and Checkmate—won huge popularity with the public.

With no prior interest in being a film composer, Williams claims, "I stumbled [from TV] into films." He scored his first feature film, the low budget exploitation vehicle I Passed for White, in 1960 and kept busy all through the 1960s jumping from TV to film work, honing his skills as a scorer of, primarily, light comedies (Gidget Goes to Rome, John Godfarb, Please Come Home!, Penelope, How to Steal a Million, Not With My Wife, You Don't!, A Guide to the Married Man, Fitzwilly)—with an occasional western (The Rare Breed), war film (None But the Brave for star and first-time director Frank Sinatra), and thriller (The Secret Ways, The Killers) intervening.

The success of his music for the Steve McQueen film The Reivers, generally regarded as a fine example of musical Americana, brought him into focus as a mainline composer; with the music for the telefilm Jane Eyre, then the big screen western The Cowboys, and blockbuster Jaws, Williams became a much in demand, versatile new master of the form. His score for Jaws contributed so much to that film's scariness, said its director, Steven Spielberg, that he insisted on using Williams as composer for all his films ever since—forming one of the most mutually-supportive and identifiable (but longer-lasting) director-composer partnerships since Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann split up.

The tremendous success of George Lucas' Star Wars and its sequels, in addition to other romantic adventure films of similarly epic scope, has tended to typecast Williams and draw attention away from the more subtle and often more interesting work he has done on less high-profile films, such as Family Plot, Hitchcock's last movie, and Robert Altman's send-up of the private eye genre, The Long Goodbye, for which Williams contributed the delightfully satiric score with its many and varied refrains of the standard Hooray for Hollywood.

Williams's success in the movie business has, however, not deterred him from pursuing his concert hall ambitions. Indeed, his success in the one field (largely because of his contributions to the films of box office kings Spielberg and Lucas) no doubt gave him the financial independence, confidence—and clout—to pursue the other. Among his concert works are two symphonies, a flute concerto, and a violin concerto, none of which bear much stylistic comparison with his film scores. In 1980 his career took on another dimension when he was appointed Arthur Fiedler's successor as the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a job that required only his summer months and left him free for guest conducting with other orchestras as well as continuing work in films. He left the Pops in the early nineties to devote his full energies to motion picture scoring, where he has further demonstrated his versatility on such diverse projects as the dinosaur-thrillers Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and the historical dramas Schindler's List and Amistad (all four films made by Spielberg as a demonstration, perhaps, of his own versatility); Oliver Stone's controversial speculation-cum-historical docudramas JFK and Nixon; and the World War II epic Saving Private Ryan (again for Spielberg). After an almost two decade hiatus since the last Star Wars adventure (Return of the Jedi), the Star Wars franchise geared up again in 1999 with The Phantom Menace—the maiden voyage of a new trilogy of Star Wars films from producer-director George Lucas. Williams again provided the rousing score, which he will undoubtedly do for the next two episodes in the trilogy as well.

—Tony Thomas, updated by John McCarty

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Williams, John

JOHN WILLIAMS

Born: New York, New York, 8 February 1932

Genre: Soundtrack, Classical

Best-selling album since 1990: Schindler's List (MCA, 1993)


One of the most in-demand film composers of the last quarter of the twentieth century, John Williams reinvigorated orchestral movie music, composing scores for more than 80 films and winning 5 Academy Awards, 17 Grammy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, 2 Emmy Awards, and 5 BAFTA Awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He is the composer of memorable theme music for television networks and special events such as the Olympics. He is a conductor, famous for his work leading the Boston Pops Orchestra. And he is a composer of music for the concert hall.

Williams was born in Queens, New York, a borough of New York City, and moved with his family to Los Angeles, California, in 1948. He studied composition with prominent composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and attended the University of California at Los Angeles. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Williams returned to New York in 1954, studying piano at the Juilliard School with Rosina Lhevinne, who was one of the most important piano teachers of her time. He played jazz piano in clubs and on recordings in New York, before moving back to Los Angeles where he began his career in the entertainment industry.


A Start in Hollywood

Landing in the Hollywood studios, he worked with studio orchestras and composers, composing and arranging music for numerous television shows in the 1960s. Among the shows on which he worked were M-Squad, Wagon Train, Chrysler Theatre, Lost in Space, Gilligan's Island, and Land of the Giants. He won two Emmys for NBC productions of Heidi (19681969) and Jane Eyre (19711972).

Williams's first screen credit as a movie composer was Because They're Young (1960). Quickly gaining a reputation as a composer/arranger he was much in demand because of his ability to write in multiple styles. He worked on numerous studio-assigned projects in the 1960s, including Gidget Goes to Rome (1963), None but the Brave (1965), How to Steal a Million (1966), The Plainsman (1966), and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969). In 1972 Williams won his first Academy Award for his adaptation of the score for Fiddler on the Roof (1971).

In 1974 he met the young director Steven Spielberg, then twenty-eight years old (Williams was forty-two years old) and one of the great director/composer relationships in movie history was born. Spielberg asked Williams to score his new movie The Sugarland Express, which was released later that year.

In the 1970s Williams established himself as the leading composer/arranger for film, working on some of the biggest movies of the decade. Among them were The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Pete 'n' Tillie (1972), The Paper Chase (1973), Earthquake (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), The Eiger Sanction (1975), Jaws (1975) (for which he won his second Academy Award and a Golden Globe), Star Wars (1977) (for which he won a third Academy Award, three Grammys, and a second Golden Globe), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (for which he won two Grammys), and Superman (1978). The recording of the soundtrack for Star Wars with the London Symphony became the best-selling soundtrack of all time.

Reinvigorating the Orchestral Score for Movies

With his scores of the 1970s, Williams revitalized orchestral movie music, which had increasingly turned away from the orchestral sound in the decade before. Williams is a traditionalist, but in the best sense of the word, coupling fresh ideas with a highly developed sense of craft. Moreover, his collaborations with Spielberg (Jaws, Close Encounters ) and George Lucas (Star Wars ) helped reestablish the power of a well-conceived musical score to contribute to the success of a movie. His collaborations with Spielberg were so tight that the music was often a primary element and a major influence on how Spielberg shot his films rather than an afterthought.

In 1980 Williams's career added a new branch when he was appointed music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, succeeding Arthur Fiedler. Williams was a brilliant choice for the Pops, and he expanded the orchestra's repertoire. The orchestra gave him an instrument with which to perform and record, and his rich movie scores became staples of the orchestral pops repertoire. He continued to lead the Pops until 1993, and has guest conducted numerous other symphony orchestras.

Williams's movie career did not slow down throughout the 1980s, during which he produced some of his biggest film scores: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982, winning Williams his fourth Academy Award), Return of the Jedi (1983), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Empire of the Sun (1987), The Accidental Tourist (1988), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Born on the Fourth of July (1989).

Movie projects in the 1990s included Schindler's List (1993), another Spielberg film, for which Williams won his fifth Academy Award. Other projects included Stanley and Iris (1990), Presumed Innocent (1990), Home Alone (1990), Hook (1991), JFK (1991), Far and Away (1992), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Jurassic Park (1993), Sabrina (1995), Nixon (1995), Sleepers (1996), Rosewood (1997), The Lost World (1997), Seven Years in Tibet (1997), Amistad (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Stepmom (1998), The Phantom Menace (1999), Angela's Ashes (1999), The Patriot (2000), A.I. (2001), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), Attack of the Clones (2002), Minority Report (2002), and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).

Along with his movie and conducting career, Williams is known for his concert compositions and theme music. He has composed a well-regarded symphony, a cello concerto (1994) premiered by Yo-Yo Ma, and concertos for bassoon, trumpet, flute, violin, clarinet, and tuba. He has composed theme music for NBC News, and themes for the 1984, 1988, and 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

Hollywood has a long tradition of hiring serious composers to produce its music. Williams is a traditional, serious composer who knows how to sell a good tune, has an intimate understanding of his craft, and has the ability to adapt and collaborate in an art form that requires many chefs. He has an old-style romantic ear for melody and works in a harmonic language that is familiar but not hackneyed. He knows how to evoke emotion but avoids being maudlin, and his sense for the grand sweep of an orchestra is in the finest tradition of the golden age of movies. He has been fortunate to build relationships with some of the best directors of his day, directors who understand the power of music in a successful movie.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

By Request: The Best of John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra (Polygram, 1990); Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Soundtrack Anthology (Arista, 1993); John Williams: Greatest Hits, 19691999 (Sony, 1999).

WEBSITE:

www.johnwilliams.org.

douglas mclennan

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Williams, John

Williams, John (1582–1650). Archbishop of York, lord keeper. A Welshman, educated at St John's College, Cambridge, Williams was successively dean of Salisbury (1619) and Westminster (1620–40), lord keeper (1621–5), bishop of Lincoln (1621–41), and archbishop (1640). Adviser to Buckingham, he succeeded Bacon as lord keeper. ‘Pragmatic, talkative and worldly-wise’, he advised Prince Charles against his journey to Madrid (1623). Though at odds with Charles I, Buckingham, and later Laud, his difference with Laud has been exaggerated, for, like him, he preferred order to dogma. A moderate calvinist, he was nevertheless a ‘supple bishop’, advocating music, ornaments, and compromise over the altar's position, and criticizing Geneva as ‘fit only for tradesmen and beggars’. Opposed by extreme Laudians, he was suspended (1637) and imprisoned for anonymously publishing The Holy Table, Name and Thing (1636). On release (1640), he worked for compromise between Anglicans and extreme puritans. Favoured by Parliament, he was translated to York, but then imprisoned for leading a bishops' protest against exclusion from Parliament. Released on bail (1642), he escaped, was enthroned at York, and, a royalist, fled to Wales where he died.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Williams, John (English missionary)

John Williams, 1796–1839, English missionary, called the Apostle of Polynesia. Under the London Missionary Society he went (1817) to the Society Islands. He discovered Rarotonga in 1823 and founded missions there. He later translated parts of the Bible and other books into Rarotongan. After a visit to England (1834–38), he returned to the South Seas in a newly outfitted missionary ship. In a region of the New Hebrides where he was not known and where he was planning to start a mission, he was killed by cannibals. His Narrative of Missionary Enterprise in the South Sea Islands (1837) threw valuable light on Polynesia.

See biographies by E. Prater (1947) and C. Northcott (1965).

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Williams, John

Williams, John (b Melbourne, Victoria, 1941). Australian guitarist. Moved to London 1952. Début, London 1958. Duo with Julian Bream. Founder of ens. ‘Sky’ which plays jazz and pop in addition to works in classical style. Concs. written for him. Prof. of gui., RCM, 1960–73. OBE 1980.

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Williams, John

John Williams

Composer, conductor

For the Record

Honed Skills on Television

Concentrated on Film

Beyond the Silver Screen

Selected discography

Sources

Not since Henry Mancini of the 1960s has a composer attained the popular recognition of John Williams, who created music for some of Hollywoods most successful motion pictures of all time; Star Wars, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and Schindlers List represent a small sampling of the musicians extensive list of credits. Undoubtedly the most dominant force in film music since the 1970s, the era in which he initiated the first of several collaborations with filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Williams realized the importance of music as it relates to the silver screen and possessed a unique ability to capture the emotional core of a film, to articulate through music what the audience sees. Film conspires with your imagination to remove you from your present reality and take you on a freewheeling trip through your unconsciousness, composer Elmer Bernstein once said about the power of film music, as quoted by Timothy E. Sheurer in Popular Music and Society. What better companion for such a medium than music? Music is, quite possibly, the most removed from reality. Of all the arts, music makes the most direct appeal to the emotions. It is a non-plastic, non-intellectual communication between sound vibration and spirit. The listener not generally burdened with a need to ask what it means. The listener assesses how the music made him feel.

Whether scoring music for comedies, musicals, disaster and adventure films, or blockbusters, the award-winning musician enhanced each new project with his original scores, writing music that was not just mere accompaniment, but could stand on its own merit as well. Over the years, Williams saw his soundtracks sell well into the millions, earning him numerous gold and platinum records. An accomplished musician beyond the world of Hollywood film as well, Williams has written several concert pieces, including two symphonies, and served as conductor and director for the Boston Pops, one of the worlds most recognized orchestras. When writing music away from the film world, I felt I could be more experimental. I felt I could test myself and try not to be daunted by the great masters of the past, he explained to Los Angeles Times writer Chris Pasles in 1997.

Born on February 8, 1932, in Flushing, New York, John Williams was himself the son of a movie studio musician who had also worked as a CBS radio orchestra percussionist. Taking cue from his father, Williams started playing piano at the age of six, picking up the bassoon, cello, clarinet, trombone, and trumpet as well by the time he entered grade school. Eventually, Williams formed a small band at school, though he soon discovered that instruments like the piano and clarinet could not be played from the same sheet of music. Hence, he taught himself how to transpose music, spending hours in the

For the Record

Born John Towner Williams, February 8, 1932, in Flushing, NY; son of John (a percussionist) and Esther Williams; married Barbara Ruick, c. 1956 (died, 1974); married Samantha Winslow (a photographer), 1980; children: (first marriage) Jennifer, Mark, Joe. Education: Attended University of California, Los Angeles; studied orchestra with Robert van Epps at Los Angeles City College; studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, c. 1950-52; studied piano with Rosina Lhevinne at Julliard School of Music, 1954-55.

Worked as jazz pianist in New York City night clubs, c. 1954-55; pianist in Hollywood film studios such as Columbia Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox, beginning in 1956; contracted by Revue Studios to pen television themes, beginning in the late-1950s; wrote first film score for Daddy-O, 1959; teamed with Steven Spielberg for the first time for Sugarland Express, 1974; collaborated with George Lucas for the first time for Star Wars, 1977; conductor and music director for the Boston Pops Orchestra, 1980-93; artist-in-residence at Tanglewood Music Center in MA, 1993; frequent guest conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and others.

Selected awards: Seventh Annual Career Achievement Award, Society for the Preservation of Film Music, 1991; Richard Kirk Award for outstanding career achievement, BMI Film and Television, 1999; Academy Awards for best adaptation and original song score for the following: Fiddler on the Roof, 1971; best original score for Jaws, 1975; best original score for Star Wars, 1977; best original score for E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, 1982; best original score for Schindlers List, 1993; 17 Grammy Awards, four British Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards; two Emmy Awards; honorary doctorate degrees in music from several American universities, including Boston University, New England Conservatory of Music, Tufts University, the University of Southern California; numerous gold and platinum records.

Addresses: Agent Michael Gorfaine, The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, Inc., 3301 Barham Blvd., No. 201, Los Angeles, CA 90068. Website The John Williams Pages: http://www.johnwilliams.org.

basement of his home pouring over orchestration books. I applied the principles of Rimsky-Korsakov to the pop tunes of 1940 and 1941, he told Richard Dyer in Ovation, as quoted by Rob Nagel in Contemporary Musicians, Volume 9, and by the time our band was in high school, we were already quite sophisticated. Although Williams was still in his teens, he had nevertheless already discovered his calling as a composer and conductor.

Moving with his family in 1948 to Los Angeles, California, Williams decided to focus on a professional career in music after completing high school. Around 1950 Williams enrolled at UCLA, where he took courses in orchestration and also studied compositions privately with Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Around 1952, Williams joined the United States Air Force, serving for two years during the Korean War, before returning to New York in 1954 to enroll at the Julliard School of Music. While living in New York, he studied piano with Madame Rosina Lhevinne and worked as a jazz pianist in night clubs and on recordings.

After completing his apprenticeship at Julliard and concluding his brief stint as a jazz club player, Williams returned to Los Angeles in 1956 and soon landed jobs on a regular basis as a pianist in the Hollywood film studios. However, Williams greater talents lay in composition and orchestration, and established film scorers such as Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, and Franz Waxman soon took notice, inviting Williams to orchestrate cues for their material. The veteran composers also encouraged Williams to focus on his own writing, and while he was able to score some low budget films, his first big break arrived during the late 1950s, when studios suddenly needed a vast amount of music specifically for television.

Honed Skills on Television

Some of Williams first television jobs included performances, such as playing the famous riff in Henry Mancinis theme to Peter Gunn and appearing in the detective series Johnny Staccato. However, he soon focused his energies on composition, mostly working for Revue Studios, the television production arm of Universal Studios. Under contract with Revue to pen as many as 39 scores a yearwriting 20 to 25 minutes of music each weekWilliams gained invaluable experience in spite of the pressures, writing music for such shows as Playhouse 90, Checkmate, Kraft Playhouse, and many others. Dramatic anthologies are a thing of the past on television now, but they provided the greatest possible training ground for me, he recalled to critic Leonard Feather in the April 1969 issue of International Musician, as quoted in the John Williams Web Pages. I had never learned about movie or television writing in a formal way, but I gained a great deal of knowledge simply by being around people like Franz Waxman and Alfred Newman; I observed their methods closely and intimately while I was playing piano in the studio orchestras. The good luck of being in physical proximity with so many of the masters provided me with the technique I needed by the time I got to television. And just as observing his predecessors prepared the composer for television work, his hands-on training in that realm, for which Williams had to learn to adapt music to a wide range of settings, in turn helped pave the way for his forthcoming ventures into film.

In 1959, Williams took his first leap into the motion picture format with his score for Daddy-O, spending the first half of the 1960s composing an occasional film scoreprimarily for lighter comedic fare such as Gidget Goes to Rome and Bachelor Flat amid his busy television schedule. Meanwhile, Williams some how managed to find time to write serious compositions, such as the ensemble work Prelude and Fugue, as well as to accept session work as a pianist, arranger, and conductor. By the middle part of the decade, Williams was receiving more offers to work in the motion picture format, scoring music for films like The Killers and The Plainsman, and less often writing themes for television series like Gilligans Island and Lost in Space. In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Williams wrote music for television movies, including 1968s Heidi, 1970s Jane Eyre, and 1972s The Screaming Woman.

Concentrated on Film

However, Williams would dedicate the remainder of his career primarily to film. Williams first major success arrived in 1968, when he earned his first of many Academy Award nominations for his work in Valley of the Dolls. Nominations for both The Reivers and Goodbye, Mr. Chips followed in 1970, and in 1972, he finally won the honor for Fiddler on the Roof. More nominations, not to mention popular recognition, followed in the 1970s for features such as The Poseidon Adventure, Images, Tom Sawyer, and The Towering Inferno.

Another turning point in Williams career resulted in 1974, when he teamed for the first time with a young filmmaker named Steven Spielberg for Sugarland Express. Jennings Lane, then the vice president of Universal, told Williams after assigning Spielberg to his first feature film that he ought to meet with the aspiring director. So I had lunch with Steven in Beverly Hills. I was 40 and he was 23, and I felt like a kind of Dutch uncle, especially because he looked as if he were all of 16, Williams recalled of his first encounter with Spielberg, as quoted by Dyer in a 1997 Boston Globe interview. He was beardless then, and so polite, sweet, and bright. He also had an astonishing accumulation of information. He knew more about the film composer Bernard Herrmann than I didand Benny was my friend! Steven told me he could sing all the themes from movies I had scored, like The Cowboys and The Reivers and he could!

After Sugarland Express, Williams continued to team with Spielberg with often astounding results. Some of their pairings included Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E. T., Jurassic Park, Schindlers List, Amistad, and Saving Private Ryan, with Jaws, E.T., and Schindlers List all winning Academy Awards in 1975, 1982, and 1993 respectively for best original score. I guess you could say that Steven has been a very pivotal figure in my life!, Williams said to Dyer of his relationship with Spielberg, who also introduced the composer to his friend and fellow filmmaker George Lucas.

Lucas would become Williams other most frequent collaborator, beginning in 1977 with Star Wars, a film that earned the musician yet another Academy Award for best original score. Williams admitted later that he, as well as Spielberg and Lucas, had all underestimated the success of the film. I thought it would be a successful Saturday-afternoon movie; that is the category I had put it in, he told Dyer in the Boston Globe. What I didnt realize was that all aspects of the public would be entranced by it. Also not realizing that Star Wars was to be a trilogy, Williams joined Lucas again for 1980s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983s Return of the Jedi. And when Lucas asked Williams to score music for his new trilogy, a prequel to Star Wars, the composer agreed. The first installment of the new series arrived in 1999 with Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, another popular success, and Williams started work on the two forthcoming film scores.

In total, Williams penned music for more than 75 films; examples of other noted scores include 1979s Superman, 1987s The Witches of Eastwick, 1988s The Accidental Tourist, 1989s Born on the Fourth of July, 1991s JFK, 1995s Nixon, 1996s Sleepers, and 1999s Angelas Ashes, adapted from Frank McCourts acclaimed memoir. By the end of the 1990s, Williams had received 35 Academy Award nominations, taking home a total of five Oscars, four British Academy Awards, 16 Grammy Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards.

Beyond the Silver Screen

Although he earned mainstream attention for his film and television work, Williams pursued other interests as well. His other compositions include two symphonies; a bassoon concerto premiered by the New York Philharmonic in 1995; a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1994; concertos for flute and violin recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra; concertos for clarinet and tuba; and a trumpet concerto premiered by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra in 1996. In addition, Williams composed the NBC News theme The Mission, a piece entitled Liberty Fanfare for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, Were Lookin Good! for the Special Olympics for the organizations 1987 International Summer Games, as well as the themes for the 1984, 1988, and 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

In 1980, Williams replaced the late Arthur Fiedler as conductor of the Boston Pops, a post he held until his retirement in December of 1993. During his tenure, he recorded several acclaimed albums with the orchestra and led the Pops on United States tours in 1985, 1989, and 1992, as well as on three tours of Japan in 1987, 1990, and 1993. Other major orchestras for which he served as a guest conductor included the London Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Denver Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Widely acknowledged for his concert compositions, Williams earned honorary doctorate degrees in music from fourteen American universities and in 1993, became an artist-in-residence at the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts.

Williams realized that his connections to both the concert and film world are somewhat out of the ordinary. The two areas of activity are so vastly different, as are the requirements of the composer, both technically and temperamentally. You havent seen film composers become successful as concert composers. The reverse is also true, he told Pasles. Thirty or 40 years ago, serious conservatory students wouldnt deign to even aspire to written for film. Thats not true any more. Ive met many young composersvery, very gifted oneswho are very interested in films. It really is the popular art medium of our era.

Selected discography

Film scores

Because Theyre Young, Columbia, 1960.

Gidget Goes to Rome, Columbia, 1963.

Valley of the Dolls, Columbia, 1967.

Goodbye Mr. Chips, MGM, 1969.

Fiddler on the Roof, United Artists, 1971.

Jane Eyre, British Lion, 1971.

The Poseidon Adventure, Twentieth Century Fox, 1972.

Cinderella Liberty, Twentieth Century Fox, 1973.

Earthquake, Universal, 1974.

The Towering Inferno, Twentieth Century Fox/Warner Bros., 1974.

Jaws, Universal, 1975.

Star Wars, Twentieth Century Fox, 1977.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Columbia 1977.

Superman, Warner Bros., 1978.

Dracula, Twentieth Century Fox, 1979.

The Empire Strikes Back, Twentieth Century Fox, 1980; reissued Varèse Sarabande, 1992.

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paramount, 1981.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Universal, 1982.

Return of the Jedi, Twentieth Century Fox, 1983.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Paramount, 1984.

Empire of the Sun, Warner Brothers, 1987.

The Witches of Eastwick, Warner Bros., 1987.

The Accidental Tourist, Warner Bros., 1988.

Born on the Fourth of July, Universal, 1989.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Paramount, 1989.

Presumed Innocent, Warner Bros., 1990.

Home Alone, Twentieth Century Fox, 1990.

JFK, Warner Bros., 1990.

Far and Away, Imagine Entertainment, 1992.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Arista, 1992.

Jurassic Park, Sony Classical, 1993.

Schindlers List, Sony Classical, 1993.

Sabrina, A&M, 1995.

Nixon, Hollywood, 1995.

Sleepers, Philips, 1996.

Rosewood, Sony Classical, 1997.

The Lost World, MCA, 1997.

Seven Years in Tibet, Mandalay/Sony, 1997.

Amistad, Dream Works, 1997.

Saving Private Ryan, Dream Works, 1998.

Stepmom, Sony Classical, 1998.

The Phantom Menace, Sony Classical, 1999.

Angelas Ashes, Sony Classical, 1999.

Concert music

Prelude and Fugue, (LP) Capitol, (CD) EMD/Blue Note.

Sinfonietta for Wind Ensemble, Deutsche Grammophon.

Flute Concerto, Varèse Sarabande.

Thomas and the King, (LP) Thats Entertainment Records, (CD) Jay Records.

Violin Concerto, Varèse Sarabande.

America, the Dream Goes On, Philips.

Olympic Fanfare and Theme, (LP) Columbia, (CD) Philips; reissued, (CD) Sony Classical.

Liberty Fanfare, Philips.

A Hymn to New England, BMG/RCA Victor.

Olympic Spirit, Arista; reissued, Sony Classical.

Summon the Heroes, Sony Classical.

The Five Sacred Trees, Sony Classical, 1997.

Film Music, Silva, 1999.

With the Boston Pops

Pops in Space, Philips, 1981.

Pops on the March, Philips, 1981.

We Wish Yoù a Merry Christmas, Philips, 1981.

Pops Around the World, Philips, 1982.

On Stage, Philips, 1984.

(With James Ingram) America, the Dream Goes On, Philips, 1985.

(With Dudley Moore) ProkofievPeter and the Wolf, Philips, 1985.

Swing, Swing, Swing, Philips, 1986.

Pops in Love, Philips, 1987.

HolstThe Planets, Philips, 1988.

Pops Brittania, Philips, 1989.

Music of the Night: Pops on Broadway, Sony Classical, 1990.

I Love a Parade, Sony Classical, 1991.

The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration, Sony Classical, 1991.

The Green Album, Sony Classical, 1992.

Iberia, Sony Classical, 1992.

Kid Stuff, PolyGram, 1992.

Joy to the World, Sony.

Night Before Christmas.

Summon the Heroes, Sony Classical, 1996.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, Vol. 9, Gale Research, 1993.

Periodicals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 25, 1999.

Billboard, June 5, 1999.

Boston Globe, June 4, 1997; January 28, 2000.

Los Angeles Times, December 19, 1997.

Popular Music and Society, Spring 1997.

Online

John Williams, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 22, 2000).

John Williams, Hollywood Composers, http://www.hollywoodcomposers.com (March 22, 2000).

The John Williams Pages, http://www.johnwilliams.org (March 22, 2000).

Laura Hightower

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