“Star Wars”, “Schindler’s List”, “Harry Potter”: The film scores by John Williams have been moving moviegoers for decades. The Hollywood composer has an Oscar record. At the age of 90 he continues to write.
Los Angeles – John Williams’ milestone anniversary will not go down without a hitch. On the contrary: for the 90th birthday of the star composer, orchestras, film and music associations are planning a veritable fireworks display of tributes and concerts.
Williams, who wrote the music for dozens of Hollywood blockbusters including Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List and Harry Potter, turns 90 on February 8 – but the celebrations last for months.
The renowned Kennedy Center and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC invite you to a gala concert with Williams’ most famous film music in June – with guests such as Steven Spielberg, star cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. In addition, the renowned orchestra is planning two soundtrack concerts for the Spielberg classics “Jurassic Park” and “ET”. Orchestras in Portland, Nashville and Boston have also paid tribute to Williams.
He has already won five Oscars
Just in time for the milestone anniversary, cinemas in Germany and Austria are showing “John Williams – Live in Vienna” about the historic performance in January 2020, when Williams conducted concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic and star guest Anne-Sophie Mutter for the first time. The recording was the most successful classic album of the year in Germany in 2021, as GfK Entertainment announced in December.
Williams and mother previously released Across the Stars in 2019. The star composer wrote melodies from classic films such as “Star Wars”, “Harry Potter” and “Schindler’s List” specifically for the violin virtuoso. “Film music is the music of our time, it’s contemporary music and Williams is a great contemporary composer,” Mother said in praise of the Hollywood legend.
Williams made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic last October. This historic debut is being released as the 90th anniversary album John Williams – The Berlin Concert (Deutsche Grammophon). This performance was “a great honor and privilege” for him, Williams said – and then hit well-known Hollywood tunes, such as “Star Wars” tunes, the “Superman” march and the end credits from “Jurassic Park”.
“Perfect Marriage” with Steven Spielberg
Williams, who has been writing film music for over 65 years – and has been awarded five Oscars for it – can hardly be stopped even at 90 years of age. “I write every day – it’s a good habit,” Williams told BBC Music Magazine last year. Music is the oxygen he needs to live. Williams has already confirmed that the long-planned Indiana Jones 5 sequel, starring Harrison Ford, will hit theaters in 2023. Since 1981 he has provided the soundtrack for all Indiana Jones films.
“The perfect marriage” connects him to Steven Spielberg – this is how Williams looked back on decades of collaboration with the Hollywood director. He wrote the film music for 29 Spielberg works, including Jaws, ET and Schindler’s List. Williams donated the praise for Spielberg in 2016 when he was honored by the American Film Institute (AFI) for his lifetime achievement.
Big melodies, powerful sounds and surprising twists and turns often make up his film music. But even with just a few notes – like on the soundtrack of “Jaws” – he heats up the tension dramatically. The music was “undoubtedly half of the film’s success,” Spielberg acknowledged appreciatively.
Williams most recently wrote the music for Spielberg’s film The Publisher (2017). For once, this collaboration didn’t earn the composer an Oscar nomination. But he already set a record. Williams earned his 52nd Oscar nomination in 2020 with the soundtrack to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
This makes him the living person with the most Oscar entitlements. He has won the trophy five times since 1972: for Anatevka, Jaws, Star Wars, ET and most recently in 1994 for Schindler’s List. The animation legend Walt Disney (1901 – 1966) holds the record for the most nominations with 59 Oscar chances. He won 22 trophies.
Williams was born in New York in 1932, the son of an orchestral musician. He studied piano at the renowned Juilliard School. In addition to his Hollywood career, he appears as a guest conductor with many orchestras. He also composed the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics anthem “Call of the Champions” and the music for US President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration ceremony, for famous performers such as Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma.
As a young musician, he didn’t aim to write film music, Williams told BBC Music Magazine. He was more interested in playing the piano and was “pretty good” at it. With a bit of luck, the Hollywood career turned out that way. “I just put one foot in front of the other.” dpa