John Williams

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About John Williams

The music of John Williams is the sound of pop culture. His vibrant themes are indispensable to the magic of the American blockbuster, from the menacing two-note motif of Jaws, to the stellar pomp of Star Wars, to the poignant violin theme of Schindler’s List. Born in 1932 in New York, Williams studied composition in Los Angeles before returning to his hometown to work as a jazz pianist. His first break came with his 1971 Oscar-winning score for Fiddler on the Roof, rocketing a career that would bring back the epic style of orchestral film music that Erich Korngold had pioneered in Hollywood’s Golden Age. In the 1970s, he began two collaborations that would define his legacy. Williams' decades-long partnership with Steven Spielberg started with the director's theatrical debut, The Sugarland Express, and came to encompass E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Minority Report, among other movies. Williams’ other great collaboration, with George Lucas, resulted in the iconic music of Star Wars, whose influence on film composition has been immeasurable. His use of motifs, such as the adventurous outbursts in Jurassic Park and the heroic brass in Raiders of the Lost Ark, makes the music inseparable from the scenes it enlivens. But it's worth exploring Williams' concert music, too: A highlight is the rhapsodic and technically demanding Violin Concerto No. 2 (2021), for soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Queens, NY, United States
February 8, 1932
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