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The most popular film composer of the modern era, John Williams created music for some of the most successful motion pictures in Hollywood history -- Star Wars, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park are just three of the credits in his extensive oeuvre. Born February 8, 1932, in Long Island, NY, he was himself the son of a movie studio musician, and he followed in his father's footsteps by studying music at UCLA and Juilliard; initially, he pursued a career as a jazz pianist, later working with Henry Mancini to compose the score for the hit television series Peter Gunn. Williams then went solo to pen a number of TV soundtracks for series including Playhouse 90, Wagon Train, and Bachelor Father; in 1959 he ventured into film with Daddy-O, and spent the majority of the 1960s alternating between the silver screen (The Killers, The Plainsman) and its smaller counterpart (Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space).
In 1968 Williams earned his first Academy Award nomination for his work in Valley of the Dolls; in 1970, he garnered nods for both The Reivers and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and two years later finally won for Fiddler on the Roof. A slew of Oscar nominations followed, for features including The Poseidon Adventure, Images, Tom Sawyer, and The Towering Inferno. In 1974 he first teamed with a young filmmaker named Steven Spielberg on a movie titled The Sugarland Express; the two frequently reteamed over the years to come, with often stunning results -- Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Schindler's List were just a few of the Spielberg/Williams pairings, with Jaws, E.T., and Schindler's List all winning the composer Academy Awards.
Williams' other most frequent collaborator was George Lucas; beginning with 1977's Star Wars -- yet another Williams Oscar winner -- they later teamed for 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1983's Return of the Jedi, with the composer agreeing to score Lucas' subsequent Star Wars films as they went into production in 1997. He even celebrated his 30th anniversary of working with Steven Spielberg with 2002's Minority Report soundtrack. Other scores of note included 1979's Superman, 1987's The Witches of Eastwick, 1988's The Accidental Tourist, 1991's JFK, and 1995's Nixon. In 1980, Williams also took over for the late Arthur Fiedler as the conductor of the Boston Pops.
John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer, conductor and pianist. He is considered to be one of the greatest, most influential, and successful film composers of all time. In a career spanning over six decades, he has composed some of the most recognizable film scores in cinematic history, including the Star Wars saga, Superman, Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the first two Home Alone films, Hook, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, Lincoln, and the first three Harry Potter films. He has had a long association with director Steven Spielberg, composing the music for all but two (Duel and The Color Purple) of Spielberg's major feature films.
Other notable works by Williams include theme music for four Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football, the NBC Nightly News, the Statue of Liberty's rededication, and the television series Lost in Space and Land of the Giants. Williams has also composed numerous classical concerti, and he served as the Boston Pops Orchestra's principal conductor from 1980 to 1993; he is now the orchestra's conductor laureate.
Williams has won 5 Academy Awards, 4 Golden Globe Awards, 7 British Academy Film Awards and 21 Grammy Awards. With 48 Academy Award nominations, Williams is the second most-nominated person, after Walt Disney. Williams was honored with the annual Richard Kirk award at the 1999 BMI Film and TV Awards, recognizing his contribution to film and television music. Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.
Early life and family 
John Williams was born on February 8, 1932 on Long Island, New York, the son of Esther (née Towner) and Johnny Williams. His father was a jazz percussionist who played with the Raymond Scott Quintet.
In 1948, the Williams family moved to Los Angeles where John attended North Hollywood High School graduating in 1950. He later attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and studied privately with the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. In 1952, Williams was drafted into the U.S. Air Force, where he conducted and arranged music for The U.S. Air Force Band as part of his assignments.
After his Air Force service ended in 1955, Williams moved to New York City and entered The Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Rosina Lhévinne. During this time, Williams worked as a jazz pianist in New York's many clubs and eventually studios, most notably for composer Henry Mancini. His fellow session musicians included Rolly Bundock on bass, Jack Sperling on drums, and Bob Bain on guitar—the same lineup featured on the Mr. Lucky television series. Williams was known as "Little Johnny Love" Williams during the early 1960s, and he served as music arranger and bandleader for a series of popular music albums with the singer Frankie Laine.
Williams was married to actress Barbara Ruick from 1956 until her death on March 1, 1974. Williams and Ruick had three children: Jennifer (born 1956), Mark (born 1958), and Joseph (born 1960). Joseph is one of the various lead singers in the band Toto. Williams' grandson is Lionel Williams who is in the band Vinyl Williams. His granddaughter is Hannah Ruick, an up-and-coming California pop artist. John Williams married his second wife, Samantha Winslow, on July 21, 1980.
John Williams is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national fraternity for college band members.
Film and television scoring 
While skilled in a variety of 20th century compositional idioms, Williams' most familiar style may be described as a form of neoromanticism, inspired by the late 19th century's large-scale orchestral music—in the style of Tchaikovsky or Richard Wagner's compositions and their concept of leitmotif—that inspired his film music predecessors.
After his studies at Juilliard, and the Eastman School of Music, Williams returned to Los Angeles, where he began working as an orchestrator at film studios. Among other composers, Williams worked with Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, and Alfred Newman, and also with his fellow orchestrators Conrad Salinger and Bob Franklyn. Williams was also a studio pianist, performing on film scores by composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, and Henry Mancini. Williams recorded with Henry Mancini the film scores of 1959's Peter Gunn, 1962's Days of Wine and Roses, and 1963's Charade. (Williams actually played the well-recognized opening riff to Mancini's Peter Gunn theme.) Williams (often credited as "Johnny Williams") also composed the music for various TV programs in the 1960s: The pilot episode of Gilligan's Island, Bachelor Father (1959-1960), the Kraft Suspense Theatre, Lost in Space (1965–68), The Time Tunnel (1966–67), and Land of the Giants (the last three created by the prolific TV producer, Irwin Allen).
Williams's first film composition was for the 1958 B movie Daddy-O, and his first screen credit came two years later in Because They're Young. He soon gained notice in Hollywood for his versatility in composing jazz, piano, and symphonic music. Williams received his first Academy Award nomination for his film score for 1967's Valley of the Dolls, and was nominated again for his score for 1969's Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Williams broke through to win his first Academy Award for his adapted score for the 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof. In 1972, he composed the score for the Robert Altman-directed psychological thriller Images (recorded in collaboration with noted percussionist Stomu Yamashta) which earned him another nomination in the category 'Best Music, Original Dramatic Score' at the 1973 Academy Awards. During the early 1970s, Williams' prominence grew thanks to his work for now–film producer Irwin Allen's disaster films, composing the scores for 1972's The Poseidon Adventure and 1974's The Towering Inferno. In addition, he scored Universal's 1974 film Earthquake for director Mark Robson, completing a "trinity" of scores for the decade's highest-grossing "disaster films". He also wrote a very memorable score for the 1972 film The Cowboys, a western starring John Wayne and directed by Mark Rydell.
In 1974, Williams was approached by director Steven Spielberg to compose the music for his feature directorial debut, The Sugarland Express. The young director had been impressed with Williams' score for the 1969 film The Reivers, and Spielberg was convinced that Williams could compose the musical sound that he desired for any of his films. They teamed up again a year later for Spielberg's second film, Jaws. Widely considered to be a classic suspense film, its film score's ominous, two-note motif has become synonymous with sharks and approaching danger. The film's score earned Williams his second Academy Award, his first one for an original composition. Williams considers Jaws to be the score that jumpstarted his career.
Shortly thereafter, Williams and Spielberg began a long collaboration for their next feature film together, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In an unusual step for a Hollywood film, Spielberg and Williams developed their script and musical concepts simultaneously, as in the film these entwine very closely together. During their two-year-long collaboration, they crafted its distinctive five-note figure that functions both in the background music and as the communications signal of the film's extraterrestrials. Williams also used a system of musical hand signals in the film that were based on hand signs created by John Curwen and refined by Zoltan Kodaly.
During the same period, Spielberg recommended Williams to his friend and fellow director George Lucas, who needed a composer to score his ambitious space epic, Star Wars (1977). Williams delivered a grand symphonic score in the fashion of Richard Strauss and Golden Age Hollywood composers Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Its main theme, "Luke's Theme" is among the most widely recognized in film history, and the "Force Theme" and "Princess Leia's Theme" are well-known examples of leitmotif. Both the film and its soundtrack were immensely successful—it remains the highest grossing non-popular music recording of all-time—and Williams won another Academy Award for Best Original Score. In 1980, Williams returned to score The Empire Strikes Back, where he introduced "The Imperial March" as the theme for Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire. The original Star Wars trilogy concluded with the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, for which Williams' score provided most notably the "Emperor's Theme," "Parade of the Ewoks," and "Luke and Leia." Both scores earned Williams Academy Award nominations.
Williams worked with director Richard Donner to score the 1978 film Superman. The score's heroic and romantic themes, particularly the main march, the Superman fanfare and the love theme, known as "Can You Read My Mind," would appear in the four sequel films. For the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, created by Lucas and directed by Spielberg, Williams wrote a rousing main theme known as "The Raiders March" to accompany the film's hero, Indiana Jones. He also composed separate themes to represent the Ark of the Covenant, the character Marion, and the story's Nazi villains. Additional themes were featured in his scores to the sequel films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). Williams composed an emotional and sensitive score to Spielberg's 1982 fantasy film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The music conveys the film's benign, childlike sense of innocence, particularly with a spirited theme for the freedom of flight, and a soft string-based, harp-featured theme for the friendship between characters E.T. and Elliott. The film's final chase and farewell sequence marks a rare instance in film history in which the on-screen action was re-edited to conform to the composer's musical interpretation. Williams was awarded a fourth Academy Award for this score.
The 1985 film The Color Purple is the only Steven Spielberg-directed theatrical feature for which Williams did not serve as composer. The film's producer, Quincy Jones, wanted to personally arrange and compose the project's music. Williams also did not score Twilight Zone: The Movie, but Spielberg had directed only one of the film's four segments; the film's lead director and producer, John Landis, selected Jerry Goldsmith as composer. The Williams-Spielberg collaboration resumed with the director's 1987 film Empire of the Sun, and has continued to the present, spanning genres from science fiction thrillers (1993's Jurassic Park), to somber tragedies (1993's Schindler's List, 2005's Munich), to Eastern-tinged melodramas (2005's Memoirs of a Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall), to dramatic war films (1998's Saving Private Ryan). Spielberg has said, "I call it an honorable privilege to regard John Williams as a friend."
In 1999, George Lucas launched the first of a series of prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy. Williams was asked to score all three films, starting with The Phantom Menace. Along with themes from the previous films, Williams created new themes to be used as leitmotifs in 2002's Attack of the Clones and 2005's Revenge of the Sith. Most notable of these was "Duel of the Fates," an aggressive choral movement utilizing harsh Sanskrit lyrics that broadened the style of music used in the Star Wars films. Also of note was "Anakin's Theme," which begins as an innocent childlike melody and morphs insidiously into a quote of the sinister "Imperial March". For Episode II, Williams composed "Across the Stars," a love theme for Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker (mirroring the love theme composed for The Empire Strikes Back). The final installment combined many of the themes created for the series' previous films, including "The Emperor's Theme," "The Imperial March," "Across the Stars," "Duel of the Fates," "The Force Theme," "Rebel Fanfare," "Luke's Theme," and "Princess Leia's Theme," as well as new themes for General Grievous and the film's climax, entitled "Battle of the Heroes." Few composers have scored an entire series of this magnitude: The combined scores of all six Star Wars films add up to more than 14 hours of orchestral music.
In the new millennium, Williams was asked to score the film adaptations of J. K. Rowling's widely successful book series, Harry Potter. He went on to score the film franchise's first three installments. As with his Superman theme, the most important theme from Williams' scores for the Harry Potter films, dubbed Hedwig's Theme, has been used in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth films (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2), scored by Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper and Alexandre Desplat respectively. Like the main themes from Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, and Indiana Jones, fans have come to identify the Harry Potter films with Williams' original compositions. Williams was asked to return to the film franchise to score the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, but director David Yates stated that "their schedules simply did not align" as he would have had to provide Williams with a rough cut of the film sooner than was possible.
In 2006, Superman Returns was completed under Bryan Singer's direction, best known for directing the first two films in the X-Men series. Although Singer did not request Williams to compose a score for the intentionally Donner-esque film, he employed the skills of X2 composer John Ottman to incorporate Williams' original Superman theme, as well as those for Lois Lane, Krypton and Smallville. In 2011, the "Main Title Theme" and elements of "Can You Read My Mind" were notably used in the final scene of "Finale", the series finale of the WB/CW television series Smallville. Don Davis performed a similar role for Jurassic Park III, recommended by Williams himself to the producers. (Film scores by Ottman and to a lesser extent Davis are often compared to those of Williams, as both use similar styles of composition.)
In 2008, Williams returned to the Indiana Jones series to score the fourth film—The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He received a Grammy nomination for his work on the film. During 2008, he also composed music for two documentaries, Warner at War, and A Timeless Call, the latter of which was directed by Steven Spielberg.
After a three-year absence from film scoring, Williams composed the scores for Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse in 2011. Both scores received overwhelming critical acclaim, with both scores earning Oscar nominations, and the latter being nominated for a Golden Globe. The Oscar nominations are Williams' 46th and 47th, making him the most nominated musician in Academy Awards history (having previously been tied with Alfred Newman's 45 nominations), and the second most nominated overall, following Walt Disney. Williams won an Annie Award for his score for The Adventures of Tintin in 2012.
In 2012, Williams scored Spielberg's film Lincoln and subsequently received his 48th Academy Award nomination.
In February 2013, Williams conducted the Young Musician’s Foundation Debut Orchestra and also expressed his interest in working in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, stating: "Now we’re hearing of a new set of movies coming in 2015, 2016… so I need to make sure I’m still ready to go in a few years for what I hope would be continued work with George".
Conducting and performing 
From 1980 to 1993, Williams succeeded Arthur Fiedler as the Boston Pops Orchestra's Principal Conductor. Williams never met Fiedler in person but spoke with him by telephone. His arrival as the Pops' new leader in the spring of 1980 allowed him to devote part of the Pops' first PBS broadcast of the season to presenting his new compositions for The Empire Strikes Back, in addition to conducting many Fiedler audience favorites. Considered a customary practice of opinion, some players hissed while sight-reading a new Williams composition in rehearsal; Williams abruptly left the session and turned in his resignation. He initially cited mounting conflicts with his film composing schedule, but later admitted a perceived lack of discipline in and respect from the Pops' ranks, culminating in this latest instance. After entreaties by the management and personal apologies from the musicians, Williams withdrew his resignation and continued as principal conductor for nine more years. In 1995, he was succeeded by Keith Lockhart, the former associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.
Williams is now the Pops' Laureate Conductor, thus maintaining his affiliation with its parent, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). Williams leads the Pops on several occasions each year, particularly during their Holiday Pops season and typically for a week of concerts in May. He conducts an annual Film Night at both Boston Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, where he frequently enlists the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the BSO's official chorus.
Williams has written many concert pieces, including a symphony; a Concerto for Horn written for Dale Clevenger, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Principal Hornist; a Concerto for Clarinet written for Michele Zukovsky (the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Principal Clarinetist) in 1991; a sinfonietta for wind ensemble; a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1994; concertos for the flute and violin recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra; and a trumpet concerto, which was premiered by The Cleveland Orchestra and their principal trumpet Michael Sachs in September 1996. His bassoon concerto, "The Five Sacred Trees", which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and principal bassoon player Judith LeClair in 1995, was recorded for Sony Classical by Williams with LeClair and the London Symphony Orchestra. He is also an accomplished pianist, as can be heard in various scores in which he provides solos, as well as a handful of European classical music recordings.
Williams was the subject of an hour-long documentary for the BBC in 1980, and was featured in a story for ABC's newsmagazine 20/20 in 1983.
In 1985, Williams was commissioned by NBC to compose a television news music package for various network news spots. The package, which Williams named "The Mission", consists of four movements, two of which are still used heavily by NBC today for Today, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press. Williams also composed the "Liberty Fanfare" for the Statue of Liberty's rededication, "We're Lookin' Good!" for the Special Olympics in celebration of the 1987 International Summer Games, and themes for the 1984, 1988, 1996, and 2002 Olympic Games. His most recent concert work, "Seven for Luck", for soprano and orchestra, is a seven-piece song cycle based on the texts of former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. "Seven for Luck" was given its world premiere by the Boston Symphony under Williams with soprano Cynthia Haymon.
Williams makes annual appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and took part as conductor and composer in the orchestra's opening gala concerts for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003.
In 2004, Williams both served as the Grand Marshall for the Rose Parade, and directed the Star Spangled Banner at the Rose Bowl's beginning.
In April 2005, Williams and the Boston Pops performed "The Force Theme" from Star Wars at opening day in Fenway Park as the Boston Red Sox, having won their first World Series championship since 1918, received their championship rings. For Game 1 of the 2007 World Series, Williams conducted a brass-and-drum ensemble through a new dissonant arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner."
In April 2004, February 2006, and September 2007, he conducted the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The initial program was intended to be a one-time special event, and featured Williams' medley of Oscar-winning film scores first performed at the previous year's Academy Awards. Its unprecedented popularity led to two concerts in 2006: fundraising gala events featuring personal recollections by film directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Continuing demand fueled three more concerts in 2007, which all sold out. These featured a tribute to the musicals of film director Stanley Donen, and had the distinction of serving as the New York Philharmonic season's opening event. After a four-season absence, Williams conducted the Philharmonic once again in October 2011.
Concert works 
Concertos 1969: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra1976: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra1985: Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra1991: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra1993: Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra, The Five Sacred Trees1994: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra1996: Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra2000: TreeSong for Violin and Orchestra2002: Heartwood: Lyric Sketches for Cello and Orchestra2002: Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (cut from the Catch Me If You Can film score)2003: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra2007: Duo Concertante for Violin and Viola2009: Concerto for Viola and Orchestra2009: On Willows and Birches, for Harp and Orchestra2011: Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra
Other Orchestral Works 1965: Prelude and Fugue1965: Symphony #11975: Thomas and the King – Musical1980: Jubilee 350 Fanfare1986: Liberty Fanfare1987: A Hymn to New England1988: Fanfare for Michael Dukakis1988: For New York1990: Celebrate Discovery1993: Sound the Bells!1994: Song for World Peace1995: Variations on Happy Birthday1999: American Journey2003: Soundings2007: Star Spangled Banner2008: A Timeless Call2012: Fanfare for Fenway
Chamber Works 1997: Elegy for Cello and Piano2001: Three Pieces for solo Cello2009: Air and Simple Gifts for violin, cello, clarinet and piano2011: Quartet La Jolla for violin, cello, clarinet and harp2012: Rounds for solo guitar
John Williams has won five Academy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards. He has also been nominated for 22 Golden Globes, winning four, and 59 Grammys, winning 21. With 48 Oscar nominations, Williams currently holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person, and is the second most nominated person in Academy Awards history behind only Walt Disney's 59. Forty-three of Williams' Oscar nominations are for Best Original Score and five are for Best Original Song. He won four Oscars for Best Original Score and one for Best Adapted Score (Fiddler on the Roof).
Williams has received three Emmy Awards and five nominations, seven British Academy Film Awards, twenty one Grammy Awards, and has been inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. In 2004, he received Kennedy Center Honors. He won a Classic Brit Award in 2005 for his soundtrack work of the previous year.
Notably, Williams has won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for his scores for Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Empire Strikes Back, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Angela's Ashes, Munich, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The competition includes not only composers of film scores, but also composers of instrumental music of any genre, including composers of classical fare such as symphonies and chamber music.
In 2003, the International Olympic Committee accorded Williams its highest individual honor, the Olympic Order.
In 2009, Williams received the National Medal of Arts in the White House in Washington, D.C. for his achievements in symphonic music for films, and "as a pre-eminent composer and conductor [whose] scores have defined and inspired modern movie-going for decades."
Williams was made an honorary brother of Kappa Kappa Psi at Boston University in the late 1980s.
Williams' richly thematic and highly popular score to 1977's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was selected in 2005 by the American Film Institute as the greatest American film score of all time. His scores for Jaws and E.T. also appeared on the list, at No. 6 and No. 14, respectively. He is the only composer to have three scores on the list. Williams' scores for the following films were nominated for the list:A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)The Cowboys (1972)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)Schindler's List (1993)Superman (1978)The Witches of Eastwick (1987)