On this day in Film History: A belated “Happy Birthday” to John Williams

Hey everyone! The good news is I’m starting to feel better already. The bad news is, I’m not 100% so this is likely my only contribution today. But when I saw that yesterday was John Williams birthday, I knew I had to say something about it.


Credit to classicfm.com : A very YOUNG John Williams at the piano

When you look at film scores, many times the question will be asked: Who is the greatest? Of all the film composers at work today, who has created the best and most enduring works of art? I think very few would disagree when I say that the answer is: John Williams.

John Williams was born on February 8th, 1932, and after studying music at Julliard and the Eastman School of Music, he came to Hollywood in the late 1950s, at the tail-end of the Golden-Era of Hollywood.

Williams’ first film credit came for a B-film in 1958 named Daddy-O. He received his first Academy Award Nomination in 1967 (that’s almost 50 years ago!!) for Valley of the Dolls and again in 1969 for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

John Williams “Superman Theme”

Over the years, Williams has composed scores for some of the most enduring film classics of our time, including (but certainly not limited to: Fiddler on the Roof (1971); The Poseidon Adventure (1972); The Towering Inferno (1974); Jaws (1975); Star Wars (1977-present); Superman: The Movie (1978); Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); Jurassic Park (1993); Schindler’s List (1993); Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001); A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Lincoln (2012) (the full list is a lot longer, you should definitely check it out!).

John Williams “Main theme from Indiana Jones”

Now in his 80’s, Williams’ work rate has slowed considerably, but the quality of his work has certainly not diminished. Of all his work, I think Williams’ collective scores for Star Wars (now comprising seven episodes of material) will be considered his magnum opus (the score for Episode IV alone is about 500 pages).

John Williams “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter

Williams’ has been nominated for an enormous amount of awards for his work. He has been nominated a jaw-dropping FIFTY TIMES for an Academy Award, but to date has only won five: Fiddler on the Roof (1971); Jaws (1975); Star Wars (1977); E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Schindler’s List (1993). He has also won 7 BAFTA Awards, 3 Grammy Awards, 4 Golden Globe Awards and 22 Grammy Awards. His score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is up for a possible Academy Award, and I would be more than excited if he won.

In 2004, John Williams received the Kennedy Center Honors for a lifetime of contributing to film and television music.

John Williams Kennedy Center Honors 2004

If you are not familiar with the work of John Williams, I urge you to check out any selection from the films he has worked on, you might be surprised as to how many movies you like feature his work (I remember I was) or homages to his work (Jurassic World borrows his iconic theme from Jurassic Park for instance).

My dream is to one day be able to meet Mr. Williams, if only for a moment, so I can tell him how much his music has affected my life for the better. I hope you enjoy this look into his life and work! Hopefully I’ll be feeling much better tomorrow, until then! -Bex

For more “On this day” posts, see here

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