Today is John Williams’ 90th birthday!
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.
The Kennedy Center Celebrates John William’s 90th – but in June
The Kennedy Center and the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) will celebrate John Williams’ 90th birthday with a three-day festival honoring the renowned composer in June 2022. John Williams, a five-time Academy Award and 25-time Grammy Award winner, will be recognized across three evenings of concerts and events at the Kennedy Center.
John Williams 90th Birthday Celebration at The Kennedy Center
On 22 June, to mark the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Principal Pops conductor Steven Reineke and the NSO will perform John Williams’ complete score as the movie is shown.
On 23 June John Williams will be the guest of honor for the 90th Birthday Gala Concert featuring the NSO conducted by Stéphane Denève and many special guests including Steven Spielberg, Yo-Yo Ma, and Anne-Sophie Mutter. This concert also serves as a fundraiser for NSO’s new endowment for music education, launched in honor of this special occasion.
The Kennedy Center’s festival concludes on 24 June with Steven Reineke and the NSO performing John Williams’ score for the 1993 Oscar-winning film Jurassic Park live to picture. Audiences are invited to join a special pre-concert Q&A with John Williams and Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter.
Tickets for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in Concert and Jurassic Park in Concert ($29–$99) and John Williams: The 90th Birthday Gala Concert ($99-$199) are on sale now.
John Williams will also celebrate his 90th birthday by releasing his new album, The Berlin Concert, on 4 February 2022. The recording features Williams conducting the Berlin Philharmonic for the first time and includes some of his best-known film music captured live during a series of sold-out concerts.
For further information on The John Williams 90th Birthday Celebration at the Kennedy Center click here.
David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.