Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Williams, 81, is perhaps the best-known composer of classical music today, due primarily to his work in film. He began his career as a Hollywood orchestrator and musician under other composers. His first credit for a score he composed himself was on 1960’s Because They’re Young. He composed music for a number of television shows throughout the ‘60s, including Lost in Space and Land of the Giants. He also continued to work on feature films, such as Valley of the Dolls (1967) and Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969), which earned him his first two Academy Award nominations. He won his first Academy Award in 1971 with his score for Fiddler on the Roof.
In 1974, Williams scored The Sugarland Express, the debut film of a young director named Steven Spielberg. This would turn out to be a profitable partnership. The next year he scored his second Academy Award for Spielberg’s second film, Jaws, with its unmistakably ominous theme. Spielberg, of course, has gone on to a career as one of the most successful directors in Hollywood history, and Williams has scored all but two of his films. This includes such memorable movies (and scores) as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List.
This collaboration paid off in other ways as well. It was Spielberg that recommended Williams to George Lucas, who put him to work on the score for his space opera Star Wars. Williams delivered with one of the most recognizable movie themes of all time, and followed it up with the equally recognizable “Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s theme) on the score for The Empire Strikes Back. His work on the saga has been the high point of an epic career. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine a Star Wars film without his iconic sound; other Star Wars-related spinoffs (the Clone Wars animated TV show and the Shadows of the Empire project) have leaned heavily on Williams’s themes for their music.
Williams has won a total of five Academy Awards for his film scores, to go along with four Golden Globes and 21 Grammy Awards. He is certainly best known for his work in movies, but that is by no means the whole of his career. For a full selection of titles composed or conducted by John Williams, SmartBrowse his name on our website.