The Cowboys. The Paper Chase. The Towering Inferno. Jaws. Star Wars. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The Empire Strikes Back. Raiders of the Lost Ark. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Return of the Jedi. Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom. Empire of the Sun. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Born on the Fourth of July. Presumed Innocent. Home Alone. Hook. JFK. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Jurassic Park. Schindler’s List. Seven Years in Tibet. Saving Private Ryan. Stepmom. The Patriot. A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Minority Report. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Catch Me If You Can. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The Terminal. Lincoln.
Those are just some of the movies for which John Williams has composed scores and soundtracks. He has also composed themes for at least four different Olympic games, the music you still hear on several NBC new programs, and themes or scores for several television shows, including Gilligan’s Island, for which he did the pilot episode theme song and the incidental music for the first season.
Today John Williams turns 90 years old, so please join me in wishing him the happiest of birthdays.
John Williams was born in New York City on February 8, 1932. His father was a jazz drummer and first instilled a love of music in John’s mind. Williams is an accomplished pianist and has played piano in various jazz groups, but his primary skill is composing.
Many other people could offer a better and more thorough biography of John Williams. I will leave that to them because they undoubtedly have access to John Williams that a lowly blogger such as myself could only dream of.
But I will give you a few John Williams facts and leave you with some pieces of music.
John Williams composed the score and theme for Star Wars: A New Hope, which was ranked by the American Film Institute as the best film score of all time in 2005. He also composed the famous scores to early Steven Spielberg gems like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, each of which has a theme or score that you could probably hum right now without thinking. He has been honored by the Kennedy Center, the American Film Institute, and even by the Library of Congress when the Star Wars soundtrack was added to the National Recording Registry as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
Perhaps my favorite John Williams fact is that he has composed the score for nine of the top twenty-five highest-grossing movies of all time in US box offices, adjusted for inflation. Those nine are Star Wars (2), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (4), Jaws (7), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (11), The Empire Strikes Back (13), Return of the Jedi (16), Jurassic Park (17), Star Wars Episode I—The Phantom Menace (18), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (21). That is absolutely unreal.
For his incredible contributions to film and television John Williams has won five Academy Awards after being nominated for a whopping 52 of them. He has also won 7 BAFTAs, 4 Golden Globes, and incredible 25 Grammys. His contributions to film and television are also great contributions to music, and whether you realize it or not you are living at the same time as a composer who will be remembered as being just as prolific as Beethoven or Bach. Seriously, I encourage you to listen to John Williams today. Just find him on YouTube or wherever you listen to music. Here is the theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which happens to be one of my favorite works by John Williams, but seriously, just go find some stuff and listen to it.