It’s almost impossible, especially for the film and music enthusiast, to have lived a life without listening to John Williams’ music. Williams has become the undisputed king of Hollywood film scoring for the past six decades. As once written in “Rolling Stone” German edition magazine about John William, “It’s not that he needs the films; the films need him.”
He composed three “Star Wars” film trilogies over 40 years and became the most Oscar-nominated composer. Williams’ first Oscar award was in 1976 for an astounding soundtrack to the movie “Jaws.” His musical adventures have become a generational soundtrack for many filmmakers. He is now a master in suspense music creation.
Although many people perhaps know Williams for his music in the “Star Wars” trilogy, he often worked with the Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and collaborated in 28 films. Spielberg praised the composer’s work during the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement event in 2016.
But now, at 90 years, John Williams is leaving film but not music.
Why leave the film?
John Williams is working on “Indiana Jones 5,” his last film score. Williams, who turned 90 in February, said just as Harrison Ford, who is younger than him, announced the film was his last, he thought he could do it also.
According to Williams, he wants to spend his time in other ways. “Star Wars” film demands six months of work, which he points out as a long commitment to him at this point in his life. However, his music sticks with us. Williams is devoting his time composing concert music, including the piano concerto he is writing for Emmanuel Ax.
Williams can now reflect on his accomplishments, current ambitions, and what music has meant to him. He notes that “it’s given me the ability to breathe, the ability to live and understand that there’s more to corporal life.” According to Williams, music can raise one’s thinking to the level of poetry, and it’s an essential part of our humanity. He says that music has given him life.
In turn, Williams has given soundtrack to the lives of many others through more than 100 film scores, including “Jurassic Park,” “Star Wars,” “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T,” “Indiana Jones,” “Superman,” “Harry Potter,” and “Schindler’s List.”
According to his longtime friend, Ma, Williams’ music encompasses all the events and changes throughout his life.
John Williams’ music is beloved and has helped define the 20th and 21st centuries’ sounds. Music is part of his life. Whether he is working on a specific project or not, Williams writes music daily. He has five Oscars and has been nominated for Academy Awards 52 times. A number only achieved by Walt Disney.
Williams says nothing is more rewarding than knowing his music is played worldwide. He spends hours composing in pencil something he says, “it’s like cutting a stone at your desk.”
He started his career as a jazz pianist, where he played on the West Side Story Soundtrack. His first film scoring was 1958’s “Daddy-O’. By the mid-70s, Williams had composed several scores for comedies, and disaster movies, winning an Oscar for “Jaws” in 1976. Since then, he has been respected for creating very diverse scores.
His work is not only limited to film scores. He has been featured as a guest conductor for various orchestras. He composed the 2002 Olympic anthem “Call of the Champions” for the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Williams also composed music for the swearing-in ceremony of U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009. Williams has also created original works for famous classical musicians such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violist Itzhak Perlman.
Even after 90, he has several concerts planned for the rest of the year, including performances in Singapore, Los Angeles and Lisbon. Though he is no longer in film, he is still a cinema enthusiast and enchanted by how the combination of film and sound achieves liftoff technique.