Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Fantastic in the Fine Arts: The Music of John Williams

Yesterday marked John Williams' 80th birthday, and rather than sing him "Happy Birthday," we thought it would be more appropriate to link to some of his own iconic music.  Here he is, conducting the music of Star Wars:

The score to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was selected by the American Film Institute as the greatest American movie score of all time--a pretty remarkable achievement.

What is even more remarkable to me, however, is the sheer number of memorable scores that Williams has written.  It seems that he, perhaps more than any other single composer, has provided us with the music that we hear when we think of science fiction and fantasy.

Here's a quick list of some of the scifi/fantasy films that he has written the soundtracks for:

  • Jaws
  • Superman
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • E.T.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Jurassic Park
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • War of the Worlds
  • Minority Report
  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
And that's just a small sample.  Here's a more complete list.  It's amazingly impressive, both in terms of simply how much he has written, as well as how well-known so many of his works are.  And even at 80 years old, he keeps on writing--he has written the soundtrack for Lincoln, a drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th President, which will be released later this year.

So, Happy Birthday, John Williams!  And may you have many more years of music-making ahead of you.