John Williams

Biography

Born: February 8, 1932; Flushing, NY  
Quick, who's the one person who has been nominated for an Oscar more often than anyone else in any category? That would be composer John Williams, nominated over 40 times for his original film scores and orchestrations. He received his first Oscar nomination in 1969 for the score to Valley of the Dolls, and since then he has become the most recognized film composer in history, not just because of his scores, but also because he has successfully Read more followed in Arthur Fiedler's footsteps as conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Williams grew up in New York, where his father was drummer in the Raymond Scott Quintette and other bands. All four children in the family naturally took music lessons. Williams studied piano as a child, and later trumpet, trombone, and clarinet. He did some work as a teenager with pianist and arranger Bobby van Epps, and also enrolled in composition classes at UCLA before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1951, where he arranged band music and took up conducting. Williams studied piano with Rosina Lhevinne at Juilliard and worked as a jazz pianist. He then returned to California and studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. His compositional career began in the early 1960s with television series such as Peter Gunn, Wagon Train, Gilligan's Island, and Lost in Space. He was able to work as an orchestrator and arranger with industry giants Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Alfred Newman, Henry Mancini, and André Previn. In 1972 he received his first Academy Award for his adaptation of Jerry Bock's music for Fiddler on the Roof, but it was his scores for Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) that brought him real notice. Those full, orchestral scores lead some to claim that he alone was responsible for reviving the symphonic style of film music and were the beginning of two long-standing composer/director partnerships. A public face appeared to go with the name when Williams was chosen to conduct the Boston Pops after Fiedler's death. Under his leadership, the orchestra maintained its popularity, toured America several times, and made concert versions of his movie themes regular pops fare. Although maintaining close ties to Boston after leaving the Pops in 1993 and continuing to guest conduct a number of orchestras, Williams has spent more of his time since the mid-1990s composing concert music, such as 1995's bassoon concerto The Five Sacred Trees, and 2000's violin concerto TreeSong, while still charming cinema audiences with music that, while fully rooted in traditional Romantic idioms, easily expresses the emotion and action of the film's story. Read less
Browse 1-12 of 12 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    X2 Joshua Bell: Bernstein - Gershwin / Williams, Zinman, Philharmonia, Lso
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 750529 Release Date: 07/07/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Alexander Courage,  Leonard Bernstein
    Performer:  Joshua Bell,  John Williams
    Conductor:  John Williams,  David Zinman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 2.
    The Essential Joshua Bell
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 707416 Release Date: 04/03/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Claude Debussy,  Karl Goldmark  ... 
    Performer:  Joshua Bell,  John Williams,  Frederic Chiu,  Simon Mulligan  ... 
    Conductor:  John Williams,  Michael Stern,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  David Zinman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 3.
    Prokofiev, Ward-Steinman / Lustgarten, Williams
    Label: Marquis   Catalog: 83115 Release Date: 03/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  David Ward-Steinman
    Performer:  Edgar Lustgarten,  John Williams
    CD: $9.99
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  • 4.
    Appassionato / Yo-yo Ma
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 702668 Release Date: 01/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Williams,  César Franck,  George Gershwin,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Yo-Yo Ma,  Kathryn Stott,  Jeffrey Kahane  ... 
    Conductor:  Ton Koopman,  Eugene Ormandy,  Ennio Morricone,  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 5.
    The Joshua Bell Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 77136 Release Date: 01/24/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  George Gershwin,  Alexander Courage,  John Corigliano
    Performer:  Joshua Bell,  George Gershwin,  John Williams,  Eddie Hession  ... 
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  John Williams,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Shanghai Film Studio Children's Chorus
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  • 6.
    The Jessye Norman Collection - The Songbooks / Williams
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000450702 Release Date: 05/10/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Rodgers,  Leonard Bernstein,  Kurt Weill,  Michel Legrand  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Jessye Norman
    Conductor:  John Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
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  • 7.
    Encore! / John Williams, Boston Pops Orchestra
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000260602 Release Date: 06/15/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Leonard Bernstein,  Frederick Loewe,  Stephen Sondheim  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Boston Pops
    Conductor:  John Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
    CD: $16.99
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  • 8.
    Classics For A New Century
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 80019 Release Date: 06/10/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francesco Sartori,  Antonio Carlos Jobim,  Steve Wood,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Marcelo Alvarez,  Salvatore Licitra,  Duetto-Exe Terra,  Yo-Yo Ma  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 9.
    Gershwin Fantasy / Joshua Bell, John Williams, London So
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 60659 Release Date: 07/28/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Alexander Courage
    Performer:  Joshua Bell,  John Williams
    Conductor:  John Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $11.99
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  • 10.
    Classics / Jessye Norman
    Label: Philips Insignia Series   Catalog: 434161 Release Date: 04/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francis Poulenc,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Jessye Norman,  Dalton Baldwin,  Geoffrey Parsons,  John Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Colin Davis,  Seiji Ozawa,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  ORTF National Orchestra  ... 
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  • 11.
    Bernstein: Lucky To Be Me, Etc / Jessye Norman, John Williams
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422401 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  Michel Legrand,  Billy Joel,  Frederick Loewe  ... 
    Performer:  Jessye Norman,  John Williams
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  • 12.
    The Jessye Norman Collection
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422893 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Francis Poulenc,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Jessye Norman,  Dalton Baldwin,  Phillip Moll,  Geoffrey Parsons  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Raymond Leppard,  Kurt Masur,  Willis Patterson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra  ... 
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