John Williams

John Williams – born February 8, 1932, in New York City, New York - is known as the most successful and popular composer of film music that Hollywood has ever produced. Movies with Williams' music have grossed more than $20 billion worldwide and that's just since he created the memorable theme for Jaws in 1975. The themes for Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Memoirs of a Geisha are among his most memorable and successful. He has been nominated for 50 Academy Awards and won five; 15 BAFTA Film Awards and won seven; 67 Grammy Awards and won 23. He has had 46 releases on the Billboard Classical Albums Chart with 33 hits in the Top 20 and seven that went to Number 1. Outside of his soundtrack work, John Williams spent 14 seasons as music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra. Born the son a of a jazz percussionist, he went to the University of California, Los Angeles where he studied composition with revered Italian composer and pianist Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. During his military service in the early 1950s, he arranged and conducted music for the US Air Force Band and afterwards attended the Julliard School in New York. John Williams found work playing piano in jazz clubs, accompanying singers and in sessions at film and television studios. One of his most notable recordings during this period was his piano work on Henry Mancini's theme for the 1958 TV crime show Peter Gunn. After working as an orchestrator on film scores, he began to write music for television shows such as M Squad, Tales of Wells Fargo, Wagon Train, and Lost in Space. He won his first Primetime Emmy Award for Heidi in 1968. He scored Don Siegel's 1964 film The Killers and, in 1968, received his first Academy Award nomination for Valley of the Dolls, with a second in 1970 for Goodbye, Mr. Chips. He won for Fiddler On the Roof in 1972 and was nominated for The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Images (1972), Tom Sawyer (1973), Cinderella Liberty (1973), and The Towering Inferno (1974). John Williams has the distinction of writing the music for the last movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Family Plot (1976), and the first feature film directed by Steven Spielberg, The Sugarland Express (1974). In 1975, John Williams won his second Academy Award for his iconic work on the Jaws soundtrack. He went on to write the music for more than 20 films for Steven Spielberg including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1983) and Schindler's List (1994) for which he also won Academy Awards. His other win was for his work on Star Wars in 1977. He won his first Grammy Award in 1980 for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back followed by wins for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. In 2017, he scored the music for Spielberg's film The Post and the following year he contributed a track to John Powell's score of Solo: A Star Was Story. Later in 2018, it was announced that John Williams would retire after scoring Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. However, he returned the following year with Across the Stars, a collaboration with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. In October 2021, John Williams made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, performing many of his greatest compositions. The performance was recorded and officially released in February 2022 as The Berlin Concert. In 2022, John Williams joined forces with his longtime friend, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, for the album A Gathering of Friends, which finds the duo joined by the New York Philharmonic. The album features new arrangements of some of John Williams’ greatest musical moments. The album also features appearances from Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas and harpist Jessica Zhou.

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