Today is John Williams’ 89th birthday! From Hollywood to Deutsche Grammophon to Dubai there are celebrations, including an all-star online event today.
John Towner Williams was born in Floral Park on February 8th, 1932. He studied music at UCLA and the Juilliard School, then began working as a session musician in Los Angeles, like his father. He worked in film and television for years until he had a historic breakthrough with Jaws (1975), the most successful film ever made at that time.
Williams also has a prolific career conducting around the world. Thousands of concerts, touring every year since 1980. His concerts at the Hollywood Bowl are legendary. He was greeted as a conquering hero in Vienna in 2019, and that concert became another top 10 hit as a 2020 release.
Nominated for 52 Academy awards, John Williams is second only to Walt Disney’s 59 nominations. And Walt had an entire studio. So far Williams has received 25 Grammy Awards (71 nominations), 7 British Academy Film Awards (16 nominations), 5 Academy Awards (52 nominations), and 4 Golden Globe Awards (25 nominations).
In 2005, the American Film Institute selected the top 25 greatest American film scores, and his score for the original Star Wars movie (1977) came in 1st place, as the greatest American film score of all time. His score for Jaws came in 6th place, and his score for E.T. came in 14th place, making John Williams the only composer with three movie scores on the list. And in 2009, Williams received the National Medal of Arts, awarded by the President and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Here’s that live celebration:
February 8th, 2021 9PM GMT / 4PM EST / 1 PM PST
SCORE MASTERS is celebrating the work of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen, Planet of the Apes, Total Recall) this week. They are joined by some of the most creative and talented artists working in the field: Academy Award®-nominated composer David Newman (Galaxy Quest, Ice Age, Anastasia), Grammy® award-winning conductor Leonard Slatkin (Music Director Laureate of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra), legendary music recording engineer Bruce Botnick (known for his work with The Beach Boys and The Doors, as well as both Williams and Goldsmith), soundtrack record producer Michael Matessino (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Harry Potter: The John Williams Soundtrack Collection), writer and journalist Jeff Bond (Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Art and Visual Effects, Danse Macabre: 25 Years of Danny Elfman and Tim Burton), composer Leanna Primiani, and pianist/keyboardist Mike Lang. These folks have all worked extensively with both composers.
Watch it here.