Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Living Appreciation #1 - John Williams

John Williams was born in New York in February 1932 and is currently 83 years old.

To say he composed the music of my childhood would be an understatement, as his film scores for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas in particular have been so embedded in my mind that they are evocative of a time and place and a feeling more powerful than most pop songs of the same time.

Not only is his film music special and memorable and so closely associated with each film he scored, but his compositions have also transcended the films they inhabit to become instant mood setters or sign posts to certain moments in time.  His simple theme for the film Jaws came to represent the shark in Spielberg's masterful thriller, but it's also used all the time now to convey any impending danger.  His score for 1978's original Superman movie is now synonymous with flying and breaking free from earthly constraints and soaring.  The recent movie trailer for the new Jurassic Park film called Jurassic World featured just a few moments of his original score, and instantly viewers were transported back to that magical summer in 1993 when we first believed dinosaurs were back roaming the earth. And a burst of his original Star Wars music sent tingles down my spine while I watched the 88-second trailer for the new Star Wars movie coming later this year.  A glimpse of the Millennium Falcon and John's music transported me back to being 8-years old and watching Episode IV for the first time in 1977.

Mr. Williams has been awarded many prizes, including 5 Academy Awards, over the years for his film scores.  But you can't quantify what his music has meant to me over the years.  And he's still reaching out to new generations of movie-goers, with his music for the first three Harry Potter films setting a tone that the other composers would follow and make that music and indelible part of their childhoods as well.

The whimsy and adventure and emotion in his scores for films as diverse as E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, and Star Wars show that he is a man of extraordinary gifts as a film composter and conductor.  Many people talk about this band or that singer being the "soundtrack to our lives" and for sure I have a few of those as well.  But I spent much of my youth watching movies, and re-watching movies on this new 1980s technology called a VCR, that Mr. Williams's music is truly the soundtrack of my life and I want to say "Thank you" for so much great music and movie moments over the years.  I can't imagine a world without your film scores.

No comments: