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John Williams
John Williams tux.jpg
Williams at the Avery Fisher Hall in 2007
Background information
Birth nameJohn Towner Williams
Born (1932-02-08) February 8, 1932 (age 86)
Floral Park, New York, U.S.
InstrumentsPiano, harpsichord
Years active1952–present
Associated actsBoston Pops Orchestra
John Williams Signature.png

Williams' signature

John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. With a career spanning over six decades, he has composed some of the most popular, recognizable, and critically acclaimed film scores in cinematic history, including those of the Star Wars series, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, the first two Home Alone films, Hook, the first two Jurassic Park films, Schindler's List, and the first three Harry Potter films.[1] Williams has been associated with director Steven Spielberg since 1974, composing music for all but three of his feature films.[2] Other works by Williams include theme music for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football, "The Mission" theme used by NBC News and Seven News in Australia, the television series Lost in Space and Land of the Giants, and the incidental music for the first season of Gilligan's Island.[3] Williams has also composed numerous classical concertos and other works for orchestral ensembles and solo instruments. He served as the Boston Pops's principal conductor from 1980 to 1993, and is currently the orchestra's laureate conductor.[4]

Williams has won 24 Grammy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Academy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards. With 51 Academy Award nominations, Williams is the second most-nominated individual, after Walt Disney.[5][6] In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams's score to 1977's Star Wars as the greatest American film score of all time. The soundtrack to Star Wars was additionally preserved by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[7] Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl's Hall of Fame in 2000, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004 and the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2016. Williams composed the score for eight of the top 20 highest-grossing films at the U.S. box office (adjusted for inflation).[8]

Early life and family

John Towner Williams was born on February 8, 1932 in Floral Park, New York, to Esther (née Towner) and Johnny Williams,[9] a jazz percussionist who played with the Raymond Scott Quintet. Williams has said of his lineage, "My father was a Maine man—we were very close. My mother was from Boston. My father's parents ran a department store in Bangor, Maine, and my mother's father was a cabinetmaker. [...] People with those roots are not inclined to be lazy."[10]

In 1948, the Williams family moved to Los Angeles where John attended North Hollywood High School, graduating in 1950. He later attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and studied privately with the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.[11] Williams also attended Los Angeles City College for one semester as the school had a Studio Jazz Band.[12]

In 1952, Williams was drafted into the U.S. Air Force, where he played the piano, brass and conducted and arranged music for The U.S. Air Force Band as part of his assignments.[13] In a 2016 interview with the US Air Force band, he recounted having attended basic Air Force training at Lackland base (San Antonio, Texas), after which he served as a pianist and brass player, with secondary duties of making arrangements for three years. He also attended music courses at the University of Arizona as part of his service.[14][15]

In 1955, following his Air Force service, Williams moved to New York City and entered the Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Rosina Lhévinne.[11] During this time Williams worked as a jazz pianist in the city's many jazz clubs.

After moving to Los Angeles, he began working as a session musician, most notably for composer Henry Mancini. He worked with Mancini on the Peter Gunn soundtrack, along with guitarist Bob Bain, bassist Rolly Bundock, and drummer Jack Sperling, many of whom were also featured on the Mr. Lucky television series.

Known as "Johnny" during the 1950s and early 1960s, Williams composed the music for many television programs (including several episodes of M Squad[16][17]), and served as music arranger and bandleader for a series of popular music albums with the singer Frankie Laine.[18][19]

Film and television scoring

Williams at the Boston Symphony Hall after conducting the Boston Pops, May 2006
Williams at the Boston Symphony Hall after conducting the Boston Pops, May 2006

While skilled in a variety of 20th-century compositional idioms, Williams's most familiar style may be described as a form of neoromanticism,[20] inspired by the late 19th century's large-scale orchestral music—in the style of Tchaikovsky or Richard Wagner and their concept of leitmotif—that inspired his film music predecessors.[21]

After his studies at Juilliard and the Eastman School of Music, Williams returned to Los Angeles, where he began working as an orchestrator at film studios. Among other composers, Williams worked with Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, and Alfred Newman, and also with his fellow orchestrators Conrad Salinger and Bob Franklyn.[22]

Williams was also a studio pianist, performing on film scores by composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, and Henry Mancini. With Mancini Williams recorded the scores of 1959's Peter Gunn, 1962's Days of Wine and Roses, and 1963's Charade. (Williams actually played the well-known opening riff of Mancini's Peter Gunn theme.[23][24])

Williams (sometimes credited as "Johnny Williams", because of the already established actor of the same name) composed music for various television programs in the 1960s: the pilot episode of Gilligan's Island,[25] Bachelor Father (1959–60), the Kraft Suspense Theatre, Lost in Space (1965–68), The Time Tunnel (1966–67), and Land of the Giants (the last three created by the prolific TV producer Irwin Allen).[26]

Williams's first film composition was for the 1958 B movie Daddy-O, and his first screen credit came two years later in Because They're Young. He soon gained notice in Hollywood for his versatility in composing jazz, piano, and symphonic music. Williams received his first Academy Award nomination for his score for 1967's Valley of the Dolls, and was nominated again for his score for 1969's Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Williams won his first Academy Award for his score for the 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof. In 1972, he composed the score for the Robert Altman-directed psychological thriller Images (recorded in collaboration with noted percussionist Stomu Yamashta), which earned him another nomination in the category Best Music, Original Dramatic Score at the 1973 Academy Awards.[27]

During the early 1970s, Williams's prominence grew thanks to his work for now–film producer Irwin Allen's disaster films, composing the scores for 1972's The Poseidon Adventure and 1974's The Towering Inferno. In addition, he scored Universal's 1974 film Earthquake for director Mark Robson, completing a "trinity" of scores for the decade's highest-grossing "disaster films". He also scored the 1972 film The Cowboys, a western starring John Wayne and directed by Mark Rydell.[28]

In 1974, director Steven Spielberg approached Williams to compose the music for his feature directorial debut, The Sugarland Express. They teamed up again a year later for Spielberg's second film, Jaws. Widely considered a classic suspense film, its score's ominous, two-note ostinato has become synonymous with sharks and approaching danger. The score earned Williams his second Academy Award, his first for an original composition.[27]

Shortly thereafter, Spielberg and Williams began a long collaboration on their next feature film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. During the two-year collaboration, they crafted its distinctive five-note figure that functions both in the background music and as the communications signal of the film's extraterrestrials. Williams also used a system of musical hand signals in the film that were based on hand signs created by John Curwen and refined by Zoltán Kodály.[29]

During the same period, Spielberg recommended Williams to his friend and fellow director George Lucas, who needed a composer to score his ambitious 1977 space epic film Star Wars. Williams delivered a grand symphonic score in the fashion of Richard Strauss, Antonín Dvořák, and Golden Age Hollywood composers Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Its main theme, "Luke's Theme", is among the most widely recognized in film history, and the "Force Theme" and "Princess Leia's Theme" are well-known examples of leitmotif. Both the film and its score were immensely successful—it remains the highest grossing non-popular music recording of all time—and Williams won another Academy Award for Best Original Score.[30]

In 1980, Williams returned to score The Empire Strikes Back, introducing "The Imperial March" as the theme for Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire, "Yoda's Theme", and "Han Solo and the Princess". The original Star Wars trilogy concluded with the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, for which Williams's score provided most notably the "Emperor's Theme", "Parade of the Ewoks", and "Luke and Leia". Both scores earned him Academy Award nominations.[27]

John Williams conducting the score to Raiders of the Lost Ark in the Avery Fisher Hall
John Williams conducting the score to Raiders of the Lost Ark in the Avery Fisher Hall

Williams scored the 1976 Alfred Hitchcock film Family Plot. Williams did not much like the film, but did not want to turn down the chance to work for Hitchcock. Hitchcock merely told him to remember one thing, "Murder can be fun." Hitchcock was very satisfied with the result.

Williams worked with director Richard Donner to score the 1978 film Superman. The score's heroic and romantic themes, particularly the main march, the Superman fanfare and the love theme, known as "Can You Read My Mind," appeared in the four sequel films. For the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, created by Lucas and directed by Spielberg, Williams wrote a rousing main theme known as "The Raiders March" to accompany the film's hero, Indiana Jones. He composed separate themes to represent the Ark of the Covenant, the character Marion, and the story's Nazi villains. Additional themes were featured in his scores to the subsequent Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a prequel (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). Williams composed an emotional and sensitive score to Spielberg's 1982 fantasy film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for which he was awarded a fourth Academy Award.[27]

The Spielberg-Williams collaboration resumed with the 1987 film Empire of the Sun, and still continues, spanning genres from science fiction thrillers (1993's Jurassic Park) to somber tragedies (1993's Schindler's List, 2005's Munich) to Eastern-tinged melodramas (2005's Memoirs of a Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall) to dramatic war films (1998's Saving Private Ryan). Spielberg has said, "I call it an honorable privilege to regard John Williams as a friend."[31]

In 1999, George Lucas launched the first of a series of prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy. Williams was asked to score all three films, starting with The Phantom Menace. Along with themes from the previous films, Williams created new themes to be used as leitmotifs in 2002's Attack of the Clones and 2005's Revenge of the Sith. Most notable of these was "Duel of the Fates", an aggressive choral movement in the style of Verdi's Requiem,[32] utilizing harsh Sanskrit lyrics that broadened the style of music used in the Star Wars films. Also of note was "Anakin's Theme", which begins as an innocent childlike melody and morphs insidiously into a quote of the sinister "Imperial March." For Episode II, Williams composed "Across the Stars", a love theme for Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker (mirroring the love theme composed for The Empire Strikes Back).[33][34] The final installment combined many of the themes created for the series' previous films, including "The Emperor's Theme," "The Imperial March", "Across the Stars", "Duel of the Fates", "The Force Theme", "Rebel Fanfare", "Luke's Theme", and "Princess Leia's Theme", as well as new themes for General Grievous and the film's climax, titled "Battle of the Heroes".[35]

In the new millennium, Williams was asked to score the film adaptations of J. K. Rowling's widely successful book series, Harry Potter. He went on to score the film franchise's first three installments. As with his Superman theme, the most important theme from Williams's scores for the Harry Potter films, dubbed "Hedwig's Theme", has been used in the fourth through eighth films (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2), scored by Patrick Doyle (Goblet of Fire), Nicholas Hooper (Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince) and Alexandre Desplat (Deathly Hallows). Like the main themes from Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, and Indiana Jones, fans have come to identify the Harry Potter films with Williams's original compositions. Williams was asked to return to score the film franchise's final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, but director David Yates stated that "their schedules simply did not align" as he would have had to provide Williams with a rough cut of the film sooner than was possible.[36]

In the 20th anniversary edition of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in 2002, Williams composed a reorchestrated score for the Universal Pictures logo with the variant of the movie itself, segueing to the notes from the movie.

In 2006, Superman Returns was directed by Bryan Singer, best known for directing the first two films in the X-Men series. Singer did not request Williams to compose a score for the intentionally Donner-esque film, but he employed the skills of X2 composer John Ottman to incorporate Williams's original Superman theme, as well as those for Lois Lane, Krypton and Smallville. In 2011, the "Main Title Theme" and elements of "Can You Read My Mind" were notably used in the final scene of "Finale," the series finale of the WB/CW television series Smallville.[37] Don Davis performed a similar role for Jurassic Park III, recommended by Williams himself to the producers.[38]

In 2008, Williams returned to the Indiana Jones series to score the fourth film—Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He received a Grammy nomination for his work on the film. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was also the only film score from the Indiana Jones film series not to be nominated for an Academy Award. Also in 2008, he composed music for two documentaries, Warner at War,[39] and A Timeless Call,[40] the latter directed by Spielberg.

After a three-year absence from film scoring, Williams composed the scores for Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse in 2011. Both scores received overwhelmingly positive reviews[41][42][43][44][45][46] and earned Academy Award nominations,[47] the latter also being nominated for a Golden Globe.[48] The Oscar nominations were Williams's 46th and 47th, making him the most nominated musician in Academy Award history (having previously been tied with Alfred Newman's 45 nominations), and the second most nominated overall, behind Walt Disney. Williams won an Annie Award for his score for The Adventures of Tintin in 2012. In 2012, Williams scored Spielberg's film Lincoln and subsequently received his 48th Academy Award nomination.[49]

In February 2013, Williams expressed his interest in working on the Star Wars sequel trilogy, saying: "Now we're hearing of a new set of movies coming in 2015, 2016... so I need to make sure I'm still ready to go in a few years for what I hope would be continued work with George."[50] He also scored the 2013 film The Book Thief,[51] his first collaboration with a director other than Spielberg since 2005. The score earned him an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations and a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition. It was his 44th nomination for Best Original Score (and 49th overall), setting a new record for the most nominations in that category (he tied Alfred Newman's record of 43 nominations in 2013).[27][52]

In 2015, he scored Star Wars: The Force Awakens, earning him his 50th Academy Award nomination.[53][54] Williams was also set to write the score for Bridge of Spies that year, which would have been his 27th collaboration with Spielberg,[55] but in March 2015, it was announced that Thomas Newman would replace Williams for the film, as Williams's schedule was interrupted by a minor health issue and he became unavailable to score the film.[56] This is the first Spielberg film since The Color Purple (1985) not scored by Williams.[2]

In 2016, Williams composed the score for Spielberg's The BFG, which opened in July 2016.

In March 2017, Williams scored the animated short film Dear Basketball directed by Glen Keane and based on a poem by Kobe Bryant.[57][58]

Williams wrote the music for Star Wars: The Last Jedi,[59] the eighth episode of the saga, released on December 15, 2017, and is presumed to be working on Star Wars Episode IX. Also in 2017, he composed the score for Steven Spielberg's drama film The Post.[60]

Williams contributed "The Adventures of Han" for the 2018 standalone Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story while John Powell wrote the film's original score.[61][62] Williams is attached to score the fifth Indiana Jones film.[63]

A three-disc box set compilation of all of Williams's musical scores for Spielberg's films, John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection, was released on March 17, 2017, and includes two previous score compilations from 1991 and 1995.[64]

Williams's body of work in film composing was featured in the 2017 documentary film SCORE: A Film Music Documentary.[65]

In March 2018, Williams announced that following Star Wars: Episode IX, which is due for release on December 20, 2019, he will retire from composing music for the Star Wars franchise: "We know J. J. Abrams is preparing one Star Wars movie now that I will hopefully do next year for him. I look forward to it. It will round out a series of nine, that will be quite enough for me."[66]

Conducting and performing

Williams signing an autograph after a concert
Williams signing an autograph after a concert

From 1980–93, Williams succeeded Arthur Fiedler as the Boston Pops Orchestra's Principal Conductor. Williams never met Fiedler in person but spoke with him by telephone. His arrival as the Pops' new leader in the spring of 1980 allowed him to devote part of the Pops' first PBS broadcast of the season to presenting his new compositions for The Empire Strikes Back.

Williams almost ended his tenure with the Pops in 1984.[67] Considered a customary practice of opinion, some players hissed while sight-reading a new Williams composition in rehearsal; Williams abruptly left the session and turned in his resignation. He initially cited mounting conflicts with his film composing schedule, but later admitted a perceived lack of discipline in, and respect from, the Pops' ranks, culminating in this latest instance. After entreaties by the management and personal apologies from the musicians, Williams withdrew his resignation and continued as principal conductor for nine more years.[68] In 1995, he was succeeded by Keith Lockhart, the former associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

Williams is now the Pops' Laureate Conductor, thus maintaining his affiliation with its parent, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). Williams leads the Pops on several occasions each year, particularly during their Holiday Pops season and typically for a week of concerts in May. He conducts an annual Film Night at both Boston Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, where he frequently enlists the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the BSO's official chorus.[69]

Williams has written many concert pieces, including a symphony; a Concerto for Horn written for Dale Clevenger, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Principal Hornist; a Concerto for Clarinet written for Michele Zukovsky (the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Principal Clarinetist) in 1991;[70] a sinfonietta for wind ensemble; a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1994; concertos for the flute and violin recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra; and a trumpet concerto, which was premiered by The Cleveland Orchestra and their principal trumpet Michael Sachs in September 1996.[71]

His bassoon concerto, "The Five Sacred Trees", which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and principal bassoon player Judith LeClair in 1995, was recorded for Sony Classical by Williams with LeClair and the London Symphony Orchestra. Williams was the subject of an hour-long documentary for the BBC in 1980, and was featured in a report on 20/20 in 1983.[72]

Stanley Donen (left) and John Williams at Avery Fisher Hall
Stanley Donen (left) and John Williams at Avery Fisher Hall

In 1985, Williams was commissioned by NBC to compose a television news music package for various network news spots. The package, which Williams named "The Mission," consists of four movements, two of which are still used heavily by NBC today for Today, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press. He composed the "Liberty Fanfare" for the Statue of Liberty's rededication, "We're Lookin' Good!" for the Special Olympics in celebration of the 1987 International Summer Games, and themes for the 1984, 1988, 1996, and 2002 Olympic Games. His most recent concert work, "Seven for Luck", for soprano and orchestra, is a seven-piece song cycle based on the texts of former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. "Seven for Luck" was given its world premiere by the Boston Symphony under Williams with soprano Cynthia Haymon.[71]

Williams conducting at Hollywood Bowl
Williams conducting at Hollywood Bowl

Williams makes annual appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and took part as conductor and composer in the orchestra's opening gala concerts for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003. In 2004, Williams both served as the Grand Marshal for the Rose Parade, and directed "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Rose Bowl's beginning. In April 2005, Williams and the Boston Pops performed the "Throne Room Finale" from Star Wars at opening day in Fenway Park as the Boston Red Sox, having won their first World Series championship since 1918, received their championship rings. For Game 1 of the 2007 World Series, Williams conducted a brass-and-drum ensemble through a new dissonant arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner."[72]

In February 2004, April 2006, and September 2007, he conducted the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The initial program was intended to be a one-time special event, and featured Williams's medley of Oscar-winning film scores first performed at the previous year's Academy Awards.[73] Its unprecedented popularity led to two concerts in 2006: fundraising gala events featuring personal recollections by film directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.[74][75] Continuing demand fueled three more concerts in 2007, which all sold out. These featured a tribute to the musicals of film director Stanley Donen, and had the distinction of serving as the New York Philharmonic season's opening event.[76][77] After a three-season absence, Williams conducted the Philharmonic once again in October 2011.[78]

Maestro Williams also conducted the National Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the Joint Armed Forces Chorus, and the Choral Arts Society of Washington performing his new arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for its 200th anniversary. The performance was held at A Capitol Fourth, an Independence Day celebration concert in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2014.[79]

At Star Wars Celebration Orlando, Williams performed a surprise concert along with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring "Princess Leia's Theme" (a tribute to the recently deceased Carrie Fisher), "The Imperial March" and "Main Title" followed by George Lucas saying, "The secret sauce of Star Wars, the greatest composer-conductor in the universe, John Williams."

Personal life

Williams married Barbara Ruick, an American actress and singer, in 1956. Together they had three children: Jennifer (b. 1956), Mark Towner Williams (b. 1958), and Joseph (b. 1960), who is the lead singer of Toto. The two remained married until her death in 1974. In 1980, Williams married Samantha Winslow, a photographer.[80]


John Williams has been nominated for 51 Academy Awards, winning 5; 6 Emmy Awards, winning 3; 25 Golden Globe Awards, winning 4; 67 Grammy Awards, winning 23; and has received 7 British Academy Film Awards. With 51 Oscar nominations, Williams currently holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person,[81][82] and is the second most nominated person in Academy Awards history behind Walt Disney's 59. Forty-six of Williams's Oscar nominations are for Best Original Score and five are for Best Original Song. He won four Oscars for Best Original Score and one for Best Scoring: Adaptation and Original Song Score (Fiddler on the Roof).

In 1980, Williams received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.[83]

Williams has been inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Williams was honored with the annual Richard Kirk award at the 1999 BMI Film and TV Awards, recognizing his contribution to film and television music.[84] In 2004, he received Kennedy Center Honors. He won a Classic Brit Award in 2005 for his soundtrack work of the previous year.

Notably, Williams has won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for his scores for Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Empire Strikes Back, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Angela's Ashes, Munich, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and The Book Thief. The competition includes not only composers of film scores, but also composers of instrumental music of any genre, including composers of classical fare such as symphonies and chamber music.

Williams received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Boston College in 1993[85] and from Harvard University in 2017.[86]

In 2003, the International Olympic Committee accorded Williams its highest individual honor, the Olympic Order.[87]

In 2009, Williams received the National Medal of Arts in the White House in Washington, D.C. for his achievements in symphonic music for films, and "as a pre-eminent composer and conductor [whose] scores have defined and inspired modern movie-going for decades."[88]

Williams was made an honorary brother of Kappa Kappa Psi at Boston University in the late 1980s.[89] In 2013, Williams was presented with the Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award.[90]


In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams's richly thematic and highly popular score to 1977's Star Wars as the greatest American film score of all time. His scores for Jaws and E.T. also appeared on the list, at No. 6 and No. 14, respectively.[91] He is the only composer to have three scores on the list. Williams received the AFI Life Achievement Award in June 2016, becoming the first composer to receive the award.[92]

Academy Awards

Year Project Category Result
1967 Valley of the Dolls Best Score Adaptation Nominated
1969 Goodbye, Mr Chips Best Score Adaptation Nominated
The Reivers Best Original Score Nominated
1971 Fiddler on the Roof Best Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score Won
1972 Images Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
The Poseidon Adventure Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
1973 Cinderella Liberty Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
"Nice to Be Around" (from Cinderella Liberty) Best Original Song Nominated
Tom Sawyer Best Score Adaptation Nominated
1974 The Towering Inferno Original Score Nominated
1975 Jaws Best Original Dramatic Score Won
1977 Star Wars Original Score Won
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Original Score Nominated
1978 Superman Original Score Nominated
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Original Score Nominated
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Original Score Nominated
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Original Score Won
"If We Were in Love" (from Yes, Giorgio) Best Original Song Nominated
1983 Return of the Jedi Original Score Nominated
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Original Score Nominated
The River Original Score Nominated
1987 Empire of the Sun Original Score Nominated
The Witches of Eastwick Original Score Nominated
1988 The Accidental Tourist Original Score Nominated
1989 Born on the Fourth of July Original Score Nominated
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Original Score Nominated
1990 Home Alone Original Score Nominated
"Somewhere in My Memory" (from Home Alone) Best Original Song Nominated
1991 JFK Original Score Nominated
"When You're Alone" (from Hook) Best Original Song Nominated
1993 Schindler's List Original Score Won
1995 Nixon Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
Sabrina Best Original Musical or Comedy Score Nominated
"Moonlight" (from Sabrina) Best Original Song Nominated
1996 Sleepers Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
1997 Amistad Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
1998 Saving Private Ryan Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
1999 Angela's Ashes Original Score Nominated
2000 The Patriot Original Score Nominated
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence Original Score Nominated
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Original Score Nominated
2002 Catch Me If You Can Original Score Nominated
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Original Score Nominated
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Original Score Nominated
Munich Original Score Nominated
2011 The Adventures of Tintin Original Score Nominated
War Horse Original Score Nominated
2012 Lincoln Original Score Nominated
2013 The Book Thief Original Score Nominated
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Original Score Nominated
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Original Score Nominated

BAFTA Awards

Year Project Category Result
1975 Jaws Best Film Music Won
1978 Star Wars Best Film Music Won
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Best Film Music Nominated
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Best Film Music Won
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Best Film Music Nominated
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Best Film Music Won
1988 Empire of the Sun Best Film Music Won
1993 Schindler's List Best Film Music Won
1998 Saving Private Ryan Best Film Music Nominated
2002 Catch Me If You Can Best Film Music Nominated
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Best Film Music Won
2011 War Horse Best Film Music Nominated
2012 Lincoln Best Film Music Nominated
2013 The Book Thief Best Film Music Nominated
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Best Film Music Nominated

Emmy Awards

Year Project Category Result
1962 Alcoa Premiere Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composed for Television Nominated
1963 Alcoa Premiere Outstanding Achievement in Composing Original Music Nominated
1968 Heidi Outstanding Achievement in Musical Composition Won
1971 Jane Eyre Outstanding Achievement in Musical Composition Won
2002 74th Academy Awards Outstanding Music Direction Nominated
2009 Great Performances Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Won[93]

Golden Globe Awards

Year Project Category Result Ref.
1972 The Poseidon Adventure Best Original Score Nominated
1973 Cinderella Liberty Best Original Score Nominated
Tom Sawyer (with Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman) Best Original Score Nominated
1974 Earthquake Best Original Score Nominated
1975 Jaws Best Original Score Won
1977 Star Wars Best Original Score Won
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Best Original Score Nominated
1978 Superman Best Original Score Nominated
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Best Original Score Nominated
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Best Original Score Won
"If We Were In Love" (with Alan and Marilyn Bergman) from Yes, Giorgio Best Original Song Nominated
1984 The River Best Original Score Nominated
1987 Empire of the Sun Best Original Score Nominated
1988 The Accidental Tourist Best Original Score Nominated
1989 Born on the Fourth of July Best Original Score Nominated
1993 Schindler's List Best Original Score Nominated
1995 "Moonlight" (with Alan and Marilyn Bergman) from Sabrina Best Original Song Nominated
1997 Seven Years in Tibet Best Original Score Nominated
1998 Saving Private Ryan Best Original Score Nominated
1999 Angela's Ashes Best Original Score Nominated
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence Best Original Score Nominated
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Best Original Score Won
2011 War Horse Best Original Score Nominated
2012 Lincoln Best Original Score Nominated
2013 The Book Thief Best Original Score Nominated
2017 The Post Best Original Score Nominated [94][95]

Grammy Awards

Year Project Category Result
1962 Checkmate Best Soundtrack Album or Recording or Score from Motion Picture or Television Nominated
1975 Jaws Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special Won
1978 "Main Title" from Star Wars Best Instrumental Composition Won
Star Wars Best Pop Instrumental Recording Won
Best Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special Won
Album of the Year Nominated
1979 "Theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind" Best Instrumental Composition Won
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Won
1980 "Main Title Theme from Superman" Best Instrumental Composition Won
Best Pop Instrumental Performance Nominated
Superman Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Won
1981 "Yoda's Theme" Best Pop Instrumental Performance Nominated
Best Instrumental Composition Nominated
"The Empire Strikes Back" Won
"Imperial March" (Darth Vader's Theme) Nominated
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Won
1982 Raiders of the Lost Ark Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Won
1983 "Adventures on Earth" Best Instrumental Composition Nominated
"Flying" (Theme from E.T.) Won
Best Arrangement on an Instrumental Recording Won
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Best Pop Instrument Performance Nominated
Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Won
1984 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1985 Olympic Fanfare and Theme Best Instrumental Composition Won
1986 Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf Best Recording for Children Nominated
1988 The Witches of Eastwick Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1989 "Olympic Spirit" Best Instrumental Composition Nominated
Empire of the Sun Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1990 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1991 Born on the Fourth of July Best Arrangement on an Instrumental Recording Nominated
1992 The Star Wars Trilogy Best Pop Instrumental Performance Nominated
"Home Alone Main Title" Best Arrangement on an Instrumental Nominated
"Somewhere in My Memory" (with Leslie Bricusse) from Home Alone Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1993 Hook Best Pop Instrumental Performance Nominated
Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1994 Jurassic Park Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1995 Schindler's List Instrumental Composition for a Motion Picture or Television Won
1997 "Moonlight" (with Alan and Marilyn Bergman) from Sabrina Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
1998 Seven Years in Tibet Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Nominated
The Lost World: Jurassic Park Nominated
1999 Saving Private Ryan Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Won
Amistad Nominated
Gershwin Fantasy Best Classical Crossover Album Nominated
2000 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
"Stella by Starlight" (from The Uninvited) from: Cinema Serenade 2: The Golden Age Best Instrumental Arrangement Nominated
2001 "Theme" from Angela's Ashes Best Instrumental Composition Won
2002 Artificial Intelligence: A.I. Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
2003 "Hedwig's Theme" Best Instrumental Composition Nominated
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
2004 Catch Me If You Can Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Nominated
2005 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
2006 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
2007 Memoirs of a Geisha Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Won
Munich Nominated
"A Prayer For Peace" (Theme from Munich) Best Instrumental Composition Won
"Sayuri's Theme and End Credits" (Theme from Memoirs of a Geisha) Nominated
2009 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
"The Adventures of Mutt" from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Best Instrumental Composition Won
2012 The Adventures of Tintin Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media Nominated
2013 Lincoln Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated
2014 "The Book Thief" from The Book Thief Best Instrumental Composition Won
2016 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Won
2017 "Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra" from Catch Me If You Can Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella Won
2018 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Pending
"Mine Mission" from Solo: A Star Wars Story Best Instrumental Composition Pending

Charting hits (U.S., Billboard)

Year Title Billboard





1975 Main Title (Theme from "Jaws")
1977 Star Wars (Main Title)
1978  Theme from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

Concert works


  • 1969: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra
  • 1976: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
  • 1985: Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra
  • 1991: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra
  • 1993: Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra, The Five Sacred Trees
  • 1994: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • 1996: Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra
  • 2000: TreeSong for Violin and Orchestra
  • 2002: Heartwood: Lyric Sketches for Cello and Orchestra
  • 2002: Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (cut from the Catch Me If You Can film score)
  • 2003: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra
  • 2007: Duo Concertante for Violin and Viola
  • 2009: Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
  • 2009: On Willows and Birches, for Harp and Orchestra
  • 2011: Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra

Other orchestral works

Chamber works

  • 1951: Sonata for Piano
  • 1997: Elegy for Cello and Piano
  • 2001: Three Pieces for solo Cello
  • 2009: Air and Simple Gifts for violin, cello, clarinet and piano
  • 2011: Quartet La Jolla for violin, cello, clarinet and harp
  • 2012: Rounds for solo guitar
  • 2013: Conversations for solo Piano
  • 2014: Music for Brass for Brass Ensemble and Percussion


See also


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  6. ^ "Nominee Facts – Most Nominations and Awards" Archived April 25, 2016, at WebCite, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; retrieved November 29, 2015.
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  8. ^ Profile,; accessed December 28, 2015.
  9. ^ "John Williams, el compositor de la aventura". Revista Esfinge. Retrieved 2012-04-30.
  10. ^ Thomas, David (October 25, 1997). "The King of Popcorn". The Sydney Morning Herald: 10s.
  11. ^ a b "Sony Classical Williams Biography". Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-12.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) at; retrieved September 29, 2007.
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  16. ^ ""M Squad:Full cast and crew"".
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Further reading

  • Audissino, Emilio: John Williams's Film Music. 'Jaws,' 'Star Wars,' 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' and the Return of the Classical Hollywood Music Style (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), 346 pp. ISBN 978-0-299-29734-3
  • Audissino, Emilio: "Golden Age 2.0: John Williams and the Revival of the Symphonic Film Score". In: Stoppe, Sebastian (2014). Film in Concert. Film Scores and their Relation to Classical Concert Music. Glücksstadt, Germany: VWH Verlag. pp. 109–124. ISBN 978-3-86488-060-5.
  • Paulus, Irena: "Williams versus Wagner – Or an Attempt at Linking Musical Epics". In: Stoppe, Sebastian (2014). Film in Concert. Film Scores and their Relation to Classical Concert Music. Glücksstadt, Germany: VWH Verlag. pp. 63–108. ISBN 978-3-86488-060-5.
  • Moormann, Peter (2010). Spielberg-Variationen: die Filmmusik von John Williams (in German). Baden-Baden: Nomos, Edition Reinhard Fischer. p. 797. ISBN 978-3-8329-5355-3.
  • Aschieri, Roberto (1999). Over the Moon: La Mứsica de John Williams Para El Cine (in Spanish). Santigo, Chile: Función Privada, sponsored by Universidad Diego Portales. p. 400. ISBN 978-4-89799-246-4.
  • Riedlinger, Stefan: 50 Best Soundtracks. A guide to the music of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Hans Zimmer and many more with an exclusive interview with Michael J. Lewis (2018). ISBN 1-71770-584-7. ISBN 978-1-71770-584-6.

External links

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Arthur Fiedler
Conductor, Boston Pops Orchestra
Succeeded by
Keith Lockhart
First Laureate Conductor, Boston Pops Orchestra
This page was last edited on 22 January 2019, at 19:19
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