John Williams has composed scores for some of the best movies ever made. If you’ve seen any of the iconic adventure and action movies of the last several decades, then chances are you’ve heard his brilliance. Born in New York on February 8, 1932, he started taking piano lessons at a very young age. Later he would become a jazz musician and study at the Juilliard School. He dreamed of being a concert pianist, but as Biography reported, in an interview John Williams said he saw his competition at Juilliard and felt “If that’s the competition, I think I’d better be a composer!”
And lucky for us, that’s what he did.
John started off working on music for several TV series including Lost in Space, Gilligan’s Island, and Wagon Train. He also wrote Olympic Fanfare and Theme for the ’84 Olympics, and composed three more Olympic songs throughout the years. But he is most known for creating superb scores for some of the best movies of all time. He is the go-to for legendary director Steven Spielberg; Williams has scored music for almost all of Spielberg’s movies including recent additions like Lincoln and BFG.
His work has been nominated for 50 Oscars which is a stunning record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person and second for overall nominations in Academy history. He won four Oscars for Best Original Music Score (Schindler’s List, E.T., Star Wars, and Jaws) and one for Best Original Song Score (Fiddler on the Roof).
Looking back at the movies that Williams has worked on is nothing short of spectacular. The first composition he did for Spielberg was 1974’s The Sugarland Express. He would continue his brilliance throughout the ’70s composing music for some of the best movies of that decade: The Towering Inferno, The Long Goodbye, Jaws, Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and of course, Star Wars(among many others).
Jaws (often considered one of the best movies ever made) would be solid regardless of who composed the film, but it may not be as iconic without the famed theme we all have loved for decades. Like Hitchcock’s shower scene in Psycho with the shrieking violins, Williams’ Jaws theme makes the picture scarier and more memorable. Almost all of us at some point have been in the ocean or a swimming pool when one of our friends starts humming that scary tune.
The ’80s would bring much of the same success for Williams. He continued to score Superman and Star Wars movies, but he would also create the theme for one of the best adventure movies and franchises of all time: Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you were a kid in the ’80s and most likely even with children today, you probably went on an adventure through your imagination while humming the theme to Raiders. Williams closed the decade by providing brilliant music for two more Indiana Jones movies, as well as The Accidental Tourist and Born on the Fourth of July.
Williams wrote scores for twenty movies in the ’90s, but two titles pop-out the most: Jurassic Park and Star Wars: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace. Jurassic Park was one of the most iconic action movies of the decade, and it is the most successful dinosaur film ever made. And it simply wouldn’t be the same without John’s brilliant music.
Star Wars fans waited years for episodes I-III, and for most of those years, it was unclear if they would ever be made. So when Episode 1 was announced—it was sheer pandemonium. Not only were people excited that three more movies were going to be added to the franchise, but they were also anxious to hear another score from Williams to bring the story to life. And when they heard Duel of the Fates, they were not disappointed. Williams has been the composer for all of the Star Wars movies to date, as well as the Indiana Jones franchise and most of the Jurassic Park and Superman films.
Throughout the 2000s John Williams would continue writing iconic themes for hit movies like Spielberg’s Minority Report. But just like he did throughout the ’70s,’80s, and ’90s, Williams stamped his name on yet another legendary franchise: Harry Potter. If you have ever seen a Potter film in the theater then you know once you hear the first chord of music—the audience erupts. He created yet another brilliant theme to an amazing story. Below you can watch Williams conducting a live orchestra performing music from Harry Potter.
If you were to go up to any child or adult today and ask them to hum the theme to Star Wars, Raiders, Jurassic Park, or Harry Potter, most likely they could do so. From the best movies of years gone by like Jaws to modern hits like BFG, no matter what generation you grew up in, John Williams’ music most likely touched your heart and moved your soul.
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