John Williams American Composer

John Williams
American composer

In a career spanning five decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage, and he remains one of America’s most distinguished and contributive musical voices. He has received five Academy Awards and forty-seven Oscar nominations but also seven British Academy Awards (BAFTA), twenty-one Grammys, four Golden Globes, five Emmys, and numerous gold and platinum records.

Born in 1932 in Long Island, New York (United-States), John Williams is the son of a jazz percussionist who played for the CBS radio and the Raymond Scott Quintet. In 1948, he moved to Los Angeles with his family and attended there UCLA studying orchestration and composition. After service in the Air Force, he returned to New York to attend the Juilliard School, where he studied piano. He also worked as a jazz pianist, both in clubs and on recordings. He then returned to Los Angeles in the late 50s, where he began his career in the film industry. He became a staff arranger at Columbia and then at 20th Century-Fox, orchestrating for Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman and Franz Waxman, and began to compose films score in the 60s.

Mr. Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than one hundred films, including all six STAR WARS films (1977, 1980, 1983, 1999, 2002 & 2005), SUPERMAN (1978), THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST (1988), BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY (1989), HOME ALONE (1990), JFK (1991), the first three HARRY POTTER films (2001, 2002 & 2004) and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2004). His nearly 40-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including JAWS (1975), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), the INDIANA JONES films (1981, 1984, 1989 & 2008), E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982), SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993), JURASSIC PARK (1993), SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998), MUNICH (2005) and WAR HORSE (2011).

His contributions to television music include scores for more than 200 television films for the groundbreaking, early anthology series Alcoa Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, Chrysler Theatre, and Playhouse 90, as well as themes for NBC Nightly News ("The Mission"), NBC’s Meet the Press, and the PBS arts showcase Great Performances.

He also composed themes for the 1984, 1988 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games as well as the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. In 2003, he received the Olympic Order (the IOC’s highest honor) for his contributions to the Olympic movement. He received the 2009 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the U.S. Government.

In January 1980, Mr. Williams was named nineteenth music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, succeeding the legendary Arthur Fiedler. He currently holds the title of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor which he assumed following his retirement in December, 1993, after fourteen successful seasons. He also holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood.

Mr. Williams has composed numerous works for the concert stage, among them two symphonies, and numerous concertos, including a cello concerto for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a bassoon concerto for the New York Philharmonic, a trumpet concerto for The Cleveland Orchestra, and a horn concerto for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, he composed and arranged the quartet Air and Simple Gifts especially for the inaugural ceremony of American President Barack Obama, and in September 2009, the Boston Symphony premiered a new concerto for harp and orchestra entitled On Willows and Birches.

Under the partnership initiated this year between Radio France and the Deauville American Film Festival, the musicians of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France will perform film music by John Williams at a free concert on Saturday, September 8 at the Théâtre du Casino Barrière-Deauville.

Filmography John Williams