John Williams Biography
John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is one of the most widely recognized composers of film scores. As of 2006, he has received 45 Academy Award nominations, an accomplishment surpassed only by Walt Disney.
Williams is best known for heroic, rousing themes to adventure and fantasy films. This includes some of the highest grossing films of all time, such as Star Wars, Superman, Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and the first three Harry Potter movies. His richly thematic and highly popular 1977 score to the first Star Wars film was selected in 2005 by the American Film Institute as the greatest American movie score of all time. In that list of 25, he had Star Wars and two others. So far, five of his film scores have won Oscars.
His long career has also included many sensitive dramatic scores (such as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan) and more experimental concert works. As of March 2006, his latest works include the scores for the recent movies Munich and Memoirs of a Geisha.
While skilled in a variety of twentieth-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 especially Wagnerian music and leitmotif, and that of Williams's film-composing predecessors.
John Williams' relationship with producer/director Steven Spielberg has been long and fruitful. Their second project together, Jaws, grossed well over 300 million dollars at the box office and elevated director and composer to previously unattained heights of stardom. The dynamic production duo of Williams and Spielberg would go on to team up on over twenty other successful projects. Every film directed by Spielberg since and including The Sugarland Express, with the exception of Twilight Zone: The Movie and The Color Purple, has been scored by Williams, including:
From 1980 to 1993, Williams succeeded the legendary Arthur Fiedler as Principal Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. He is now the Laureate Conductor of the Pops, thus maintaining his affiliation with its parent, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), resident of Symphony Hall in the Massachusetts capital. Williams leads the Pops on several occasions each year, particularly during their Holiday Pops season and typically for a week of concerts in May. He also frequently enlists the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, official chorus of the BSO, to provide a choral accompaniment to films (such as Saving Private Ryan).
He is an accomplished pianist, as can be heard in various scores in which he provides solos, as well as a handful of European classical music recordings.
Williams has written many concert pieces, including a symphony, Concerto for Clarinet written for Michele Zukovsky (Principal Clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) in 1991 , a sinfonietta for wind ensemble, a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1994, concertos for the flute and violin recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, tuba, and a trumpet concerto, which was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra and their principal trumpet Michael Sachs in September 1996. His bassoon concerto, The Five Sacred Trees, which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and principal bassoon player Judith LeClair in 1995, was recorded for Sony Classical by Williams with LeClair and the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Williams has composed the well-known NBC News theme "The Mission", "Liberty Fanfare", composed for the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty, "We're Lookin' Good!," composed for the Special Olympics in celebration of the 1987 International Summer Games, and themes for the 1984, 1988, 1996, and 2002 Olympic games. His most recent concert work "Seven for Luck", for soprano and orchestra, is a seven-piece song cycle based on the texts of former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. "Seven for Luck" was given its world premiere by the Boston Symphony under Williams with soprano Cynthia Haymon.