skip navigation
Overview for John Williams
John Williams

John Williams

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (1)

Also Known As: John T Williams,John Towner Williams,Johnny Williams Died:
Born: February 8, 1932 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Flushing, New York, USA Profession: Music ... composer conductor jazz pianist
RATE AND COMMENT

BIOGRAPHY

wards. For "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981), Williams once again elevated a film with a vibrant score that was not only an emotional underpin for the action on screen, but also created a theme that forever associated itself with the action movie's hero (Harrison Ford). Not only was he nominated for another Academy Award, Williams earned his 11th Grammy. Teaming again with Spielberg, he won an Oscar for his beautiful score for "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), which featured an uplifting theme as Elliott (Henry Thomas) flies through the sky on his bicycle with E.T. More sequels soon followed, including "Superman III" (1983), "Return of the Jedi" (1983) and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984), though none were as fresh and innovative as their predecessors. Still, he earned Academy Award nods for the latter two.

By the mid-1980s, Williams was widely considered to be the most prolific and decorated Hollywood composers in cinematic history. Following Oscar-nominated scores for "The River" (1984), Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" (1987), and "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987), Williams broke no new ground with the forgettable sequels "Jaws: The Revenge" (1987) and "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" (1987). He returned to form with more Oscar nods for "The Accidental Tourist" (1988) and "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), while covering much of the same territory for "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989). After penning the music for "Home Alone" (1990), which earned him an Oscar nod for Best Song as well as best score, Williams wrote the chilling music for Oliver Stone's "JFK" (1991), a documentary-like look at the conspiracy surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Teaming with director Ron Howard, he composed the sweeping, atmospheric music for the director's period epic, "Far and Away" (1992) before returning for another triumphant collaboration with Steven Spielberg on "Schindler's List" (1993). Awed by the film, Williams was at first doubtful that he could do justice to the film. He joined forces with famed violinist Itzhak Perlman to create a haunting and somber score that not surprisingly took home his fifth Academy Award.

Also that year, Williams worked with Spielberg on the much lighter special effects bonanza, "Jurassic Park" (1993). By this time in his career, Williams had spent 14 seasons as the conductor of the famed Boston Pops, with whom he recorded a series of acclaimed albums. But in 1993, he put down the baton to retire, though retaining the title of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor. He moved on to become Artist-in-Residence at the Tanglewood Music Center, which he followed with a string of guest conductor spots with the London Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with whom he performed an annual concert of his movie classics at the Hollywood Bowl for many years. Continuing to churn out film scores for the biggest names and most important films, Williams teamed up again with Oliver Stone for "Nixon" (1995), the director's Shakespearean take on the fall of President Richard Nixon (Anthony Hopkins). Once again, Williams received an Academy Award nomination for his exquisite work. After Sydney Pollack's mediocre remake of "Sabrina" (1995), Williams worked with Barry Levinson on "Sleepers" (1996) and reunited with Spielberg for "Amistad" (1997), both of which earned Oscar nominations for Best Score.

Over the years, Williams was asked to compose for more than just film and television. In 1984, for example, he was asked to write the "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" for the opening ceremonies of that year's games in Los Angeles. Williams was later commissioned by NBC to write music for their coverage of the 1988 summer games in Seoul, South Korea, while also contributing themes to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA in 1996 and the winter games in Salt Lake City, UT in 2002. Meanwhile, he continued his Oscar and Grammy triumphs with Spielberg's WWII masterpiece, "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), earning a nod in the former and a win in the latter for best instrumental composition written for the screen. Joining forces again with Lucas, he built upon previous success for his work on the long-awaited prequel, "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999). However, like the films themselves, little was memorable from the score, especially considering the epic success of the original "Star Wars" compositions. Williams earned more Academy Award nominations for his work on "Angela's Ashes" (1999), "The Patriot" (2000) and "AI: Artificial Intelligence" (2001), a seemingly yearly tradition for the composer at that juncture in his career.

In 2000, Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame alongside country-western singer Garth Brooks. Both were the first to be inducted when the Bowl established their Hall of Fame that year. Williams created yet another iconic and culturally significant score for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001), which contained the popular "Hedwig's Theme," while earning him more accolades at the Grammys and Academy Awards. He continued to work with Spielberg on "Minority Report" (2002), "Catch Me If You Can" (2002) and "The Terminal" (2004). In fact, aside from "The Color Purple" (1985), Williams scored every single Spielberg film. Meanwhile, after leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the inaugural gala for Los Angele's Walt Disney Concert Hall in late 2003, he received more Oscar nominations for his scores on "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004), "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005) and "Munich" (2005), the last marking his 22nd collaboration with Spielberg.

As the years piled up, Williams became less prolific, preferring instead to maintain current collaborations rather than forging new ones. While he continued to receive credits on films like "Superman Returns" (2006), "Failure to Launch" (2006), "The Astronaut Farmer" (2007) and "Yes Man" (2008), most were for work previously written. He did score "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008), though, again, no new ground was broken. Williams did remain active on stage, conducting sold out concerts with the New York Philharmonic, which were originally intended to be one-time events, but instead turned out to be so successful that more were later performed, including three tribute performances to director Stanley Donen in 2007. In 2009, Williams was honored as a recipient of the National Medal of Arts for his achievements in symphonic music for motion pictures as a composer and conductor. The award was presented to Williams by President Barack Obama, who went on to say that "his scores have defined and inspired modern movie-going for decades." As he neared his 80th birthday, Williams limited his original film work to ongoing collaborations with Spielberg, for whom he created appropriately rousing scores for films like the computer-animated adaptation of the beloved French comic book series "The Adventures of Tintin" (2011) and the epic tale of the unbreakable bond between a boy and his steed during World War I in the period drama "War Horse" (2011). For his efforts in adding gravity and scope to the events depicted in Spielbergâ¿¿s lauded presidential biopic "Lincoln" (2012), Williams once more earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Original Score.r nod at the Academy Awards for his work on the Richard Donner film.

Following Spielberg's largely forgettable stab at comedy, "1941" (1979) and the gothic horror film "Dracula" (1979), Williams composed scores for the sequels "Superman II" (1981) and "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980); the latter of which expanded the "Imperial Motif" into the famed "Imperial March," alternately known as "Darth Vader's Theme." The theme would survive the test of time as a popular addition to live sporting events. For his work on "Empire, he was nominated for Best Original Score at the 53rd Academy A

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute