Happy 80th Birthday, John Williams!

Today marks John Williams’s 80th birthday. And what better way to celebrate it, than with two Oscar nominations for War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin.

No one needs to point out that John Williams is a legend. Say his name, and everyone around you–most likely, even the younger generations–are going to have at least heard his name, much less be aware of some of the famous compositions he’s created throughout his lifetime.

Right around the Oscar nominations announcement, many recognized and acknowledged that Williams, now with 47 nominations, is the second most nominated person following Walt Disney. Disney had 59 nominations in the bag and would be 110 years old today. I’m not sure whether Williams is aiming to top Disney’s number, but I would agree that with two nominations this year, that he’s well on his way if he continues to compose.

To break it down, Williams has won 5 Academy awards, 4 Golden Globes, 7 BAFTAs, and 21 Grammy awards. His Wikipedia and IMDB pages are deliciously long, making mention of each score he composed and/or conducted, received nominations for, and many of which he went on to win multiple awards for.

John Williams brought Superman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and E.T. to life, to name a few. “John Williams” is one of those names that will go down not only in film history, but also in U.S. history as a prestigious creative mind of sorts.

Perhaps Williams’s great collaboration in the film biz is his connection and friendship with Steven Spielberg. Williams has composed for all of Spielberg’s major feature films with the exceptions of The Color Purple (1985) and Duel (1971).

Everyone has their favorite John Williams’s soundtrack(s), be it one of his well-known or more obscure ones, not that many of his scores have hit the point of obscurity. My favorites are Superman and Star Wars. They both scream epicness in their ability to communicate themes that have been used and remixed throughout the years to give us parody videos and hilarious commercials and remakes (well, for Superman . . . definitely not Star Wars!)

Also, make sure to check out Ruth from Flixchatter’s excellent post commemorating John Williams on his birthday as well, offering a brief history of Williams and then including her top 10 Williams’s film scores.

Below are some videos of my favorite themes from the celebrated composer:

John Williams conducts the Superman theme:

London Symphony Orchestra performs the Star Wars theme:

What’s your favorite John Williams score?

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14 thoughts on “Happy 80th Birthday, John Williams!

  1. I love John Williams–he is by far one of my favorite composers! I love how he gives credit where credit is due and talks about he is influenced by classical music composers. Where every score by him has his signature on it, I normally don’t go like “that sounded like his other movie” like I do with so many film composers today. My favorite would have to be between Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.

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    • I would definitely agree that each score of his composed really stands as its own separate entity–none of them sound too similar, which is really great. Nice choices! I love Indiana Jones too.

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  2. Williams’ score for SUPERMAN is the layup for me, since I’m a huge fan of the Man of Steel. But getting into Williams’ work proper, I’m hard pressed to think of a score that is so intrinsic to its film as the one for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

    It’s as if the man thought “Two notes worked wonders for JAWS, I wonder what I could do with five?”

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    • I’m totally right with you there, Ryan – big fan of Superman, and I can’t help but love Williams’s score. I actually haven’t heard his score for CEOTTK. I’ll have to check that one out!

      Exactly – pretty incredible that you give him a little and he creates something so epic.

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  3. Such a legend, deserves all the awards, film music would not be the same without him. I was gobsmacked when I found out he didn’t do one of my all time fave scores Back to the Future but now I realise that Alan Silvestri is up there with Williams.

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  4. Oh hey, that’s cool that you’re highlighting Mr. Williams too! I had my post done just in the nick of time, just 2 hrs before midnight CST before his b’day is over 🙂 These two scores are on my top 10 list for sure.

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  5. John Williams scores set the standard for modern day film scores. He changed the game. Gave us back the big orchestral pieces and still uses them. I love a big, huge orchestral score and no one can really put together anything like John Williams can.

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    • So true. Yeah, I, too, really like having a full orchestra. It creates a very commanding sound, and it works well, especially for the scores Williams composed. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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