V.com weekend vote: What is your favorite John Williams score?

February 5, 2022, 9:32 PM · Tuesday marks the 90th birthday of the American composer John Williams, whose scored some of the most popular films of the last half-century.

John Williams
Composer John Williams.

In many cases, Williams' music has proved as popular as the movie - or more so. For example, it's hard to imagine Star Wars having its full impact without Williams elevating the drama with "Princess Leia's Theme," the "Imperial March," and the many other themes he wrote for the series. And while I'd probably decline an offer to watch the movie "E.T." again - what beautiful musical themes!

I would go so far as to say that Williams' music has inspired young people to learn an instrument, just so they could play his music. When I was young, I definitely tried to plunk out "Star Wars" themes on the piano and violin. For years, Star Wars arrangements have been orchestra and band staples for high schools. And a number of my students over the last several decades have wanted to play "Hedwig's Theme," and happily there are plenty of good arrangements for violin. (Incidentally, the original "Hedwig's Theme" has such wicked-complicated violin passages that the violin part is used in orchestral excerpt classes and auditions!)

Many of us have experience playing these scores, and many have even met the maestro, who in addition to being a legendary film composer is also a wonderful conductor. Some may have even sat in those recording sessions! If you have played these scores, what have you played? What were your impressions?

I thought it would be fun to share our thoughts and experiences with the music of John Williams, in celebration of his longevity. First, what is your favorite, among his scores? I've listed some of the most popular, award-winning scores in the vote -- Star Wars (of course!), Harry Potter, Jaws, Schindler's List, etc. But Williams has written so many iconic scores that I couldn't fit all of them into the vote! So you are welcome to pick "something else" and tell us in the comments below, if your favorite happens to be something not listed -- such as Superman, Saving Private Ryan, Memoirs of a Geisha, Towering Inferno, the 1984 Olympic Theme, Angela's Ashes... What makes the music especially appealing to you? And if you pick something like "Star Wars," what are your favorite themes within that music?

Please participate in the vote, and then share your thoughts on John Williams, his music, and what it has meant to you over the years. Happy 90th to someone who has given us great music to listen to, and to play!

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Replies

February 6, 2022 at 04:15 AM · Laurie, my favourite isn’t on the list. It’s 1970’s "Jane Eyre," George C. Scott (Rochester) Susanna York (Jane Eyre), BBC:

February 6, 2022 at 05:21 AM · Although I voted for Star Wars, I think Jurassic Park deserves a special mention: it is the only major-studio film whose title theme is introduced by violas soli.

February 6, 2022 at 02:15 PM · My favorite is the one without triplets. Oh wait, all his scores have triplets and open fifths.

February 6, 2022 at 03:51 PM · This was such a fun vote! In the absence of an "all of the above option," I went with E.T. I'll never forget sitting in the theater and watching those little boys on their bicycles start peddling up into the sky. Williams' soaring score matched the moment so perfectly. It was movie heaven. Happy 90th!!!

February 6, 2022 at 04:13 PM · I wanted to say the same as Andrew. Star Wars is still my favorite but I played Jurassic Park a few years ago and loved the viola theme!

February 6, 2022 at 05:02 PM · Schindler's List - so poignant.

February 6, 2022 at 07:49 PM · So hard to choose! Raiders is up there as is Star Wars, but I picked Jurassic Park because even though I *don't* like the movie I still love the music! That main theme still stops me in my tracks every time.

February 7, 2022 at 01:19 AM · I liked the twoset vid about famous movie scores based on classical pieces- of course JW was prominently mentioned!

February 7, 2022 at 01:37 AM · My Vote for Favourite John Williams Score cum Piece {#9}

As a Violinist, and having taught 'Schindler's List' for Violin but not at first acquaintance having viewed the Film & after trying to watch, stopping due to its high emotion, I finally reached a B- emotionally due to this very emotional subject which also having been to Auschwitz, whilst living in London, and by a

chance coincidence, reading Violin/Piano Sonatas with a then British Brave Auschwitz Survivor, who had Piano debuted with the Berlin Philharmonic at aged 10, just prior to being sent to the horrific death camp we all know about ... Girding my inner emotional loins, one finally managed to view all the Film, and came away even more moved due the gripping John Williams Score, capturing some of the horror and deep 'Ache' of all the terrorized victims in Auschwitz ...Teaching Desiree was a huge challenge due to her own background tho' most determined to perform 'Schindler's List's' aching Violin Solo 'In Memoriam' of her father ~ She taught me more than I taught her emotionally and with close at hand relatives who had lost European Family during the Nazi victimization of All people worshipping their Jewish Faith and/or 'labelled' {and outwardly on their clothing w/Patches using Jewish faith markers} so all the non Jewish people, and in Germany, could see & cause even more insult to injury to people simply wishing to live their lives working and raising families as most people's throughout the World aspired to do ...

'Schindler's List' became not just a piece of Music to learn and teach to Desiree, but a Life in History and fused awareness of What Happened & which some still insist Never did .......... No Words can suffice after living abroad; meeting a lot of directly affected people in London, Berlin, Vienna and other European capital cities & towns, to answer less argue a Bizarre Fact of History which Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Head General for

All American Troops in Europe, upon overtaking the Nazi inner regime, & when entering Auschwitz, so horrified, insisted All US Media with Cameras film all the Horrid's they were seeing so no one later on could ever refute the wicked plus terrifying Sin Atrocities committed against fellow human's by obsessed Evil followers of The Fuerher.

In John Williams' Epic Film Score, lay all horrors yet channeled via Williams into heart-ache +ironic wicked Beauty unimagined to decent civilized human person's or even our petty thieves ~

No! - to learn and know 'Schindler's List' on the Violin or 'Cello or Viola et al, is to experience a tip of the iceberg of horror and 'to be Ye transformed' by the journey travelled - i.e., creating Bowing's and Phrasing to mirror deepest grief plus Fingering's to smooth-shift invisibly to allow Shifts appropriately sought to

shine with grieved travel from one note way up or way down to another portraying the angst of so many forced to labor non stop in quarries using steel hammers 18 hours per day minus a cup of water or beaten by evil Nazi guards for sport to make crying women & grown men weep for an ever so slight mercy of stopping 24/7 beating. This much-much more is captured in epic fashion throughout John Williams' Score which offered the Spielberg Film Story Telling via underneath Orchestral Sounds = Screams amid whipped beatings composed into percussion special effects as a Ship carrying its passengers & to translate, over 6,000,000 Jewish, Gypsies +many other random peoples who were categorized under an umbrella of Jews, even though some were far from it ... With all things pouring forth one hadn't any idea what was inside one's remembrance 'S's L' is Still an Academy Award Above to a Nobel Prize Musical Score for the Ages, & if playing JW's 'Schindler's List' for Violin w/ Piano or Solo Violin {which yours truly much later played for a Chicago

Television Hannukah Special Observance filmed, Live} maybe this impromptu 'Treatise on Schindler's List' might resonate in one memory/collective memories during a Journey musically crafted by an American Master Composer who has the gifts of empathy and deeper heart sorrows to identify-compose the Cries of World War II's Halocaust in Auschwitz, Dacau, and all other Nazi Camps where "distasteful's" were cattle-car herded into smell filled box cars with no place to get rid of toxic human waste fooled by the Promise of a nice vacation to the Country.

This, dear fellow violinists and other instrumentalists, is at the interior of "Schindler's List" and of Composer, John Williams' Epic Musical Score which shall Last for Centuries to come if we, here on Earth, don't destroy ourselves prior Planet Earth's Time to recede into an unknown Abyss ~

With immense admiration for his Body of Work, I Salute John Williams, & whom I met in JFK's PAN AM Passenger Lounge in 1970, waiting 4 + hours for our flight from NYC to London, to become reality due to One Jet Engine falling off & which PAN AM felt unsafe to fly across the Atlantic at that time, and kindly offering we 40-55 max passengers coffee, tea, scones, ample bacon 'n eggs +all other very early AM goodies until an engine had been found to 'tack on' {a joke to lighten the mood, folks!} to the 707 Jet while meeting together chatting about LA & my double violin case which John Williams wondered aloud what was inside, telling him then answering his questions about my studies and actually speaking about the film he was scoring in London, giving me his Telephone number in London, and JW Business Card to get in touch once back in the UK! Life is very

strange, but wonderful when one is full throttle focused ahead in attaining specific goals which do attract 'right' people into a person's life in given moments and are little miracles from God with a sign one is traveling on the Right Path!! It's in this vein, I would love to wish John Williams, KBE, {Should be Knighted Honourably!!} a Marvellous Ninetieth Birthday Celebration and starting Tuesday, 8.2.22, continuing throughout The Year of John Williams 90th in 2 0 2 2 and Then Some!!!! FYI, I've Info

that John Williams will be Kennedy Center honoured in June of 2022, conducting the National Symphony Orchestra, who just guest Conducted the Boston Symphony w/Anne-Sophie Mutter as his Violin Soloist and Friend, performing the Viollin Obligato to one of Maestro John Williams' most recent Harry Potter Film Scores which has out Sold every other JW Harry Potter Film & most probably due to a Williams - Mutter Musical Collaboration & composed violin solo for ASM!! This Is Marvellous!!!

Yes! I voted for 'Schindler's List' & have taken a Mile of V.com Space to announce this fact!

Submitted with gratitude amid Joy & Thankfulness for reading Difficult Parts set forth ~ Salude John Williams 'viva la france'

~ Elisabeth Matesky ~

^Original 1 of 7 Pupil's of Jascha Heifetz & Private Advanced ^Pupil/T.A. to Nathan Milstein Violin Master Courses in Zurich

~ February 6, 2022 ~

... Fwd dg ...

February 7, 2022 at 01:51 AM · I've enjoyed listening to Williams's score to Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom (1984), the sequel to the Raiders of Lost Ark. Lots of fine musicians contributed to the soundtrack recording, which integrates motifs from Western and Eastern classical musics. Interestingly there are quite a few film soundtracks where the music overshadows what is happening on the screen.

February 7, 2022 at 07:26 PM · I chose 'Jaws' because it has been in the orbit of my favorites for all the decades since its release. Among his popular scores it is a very powerful example of the less widely appreciated aspects of his skill set, while simultaneously being very under appreciated.

The first thing most people think of when John Williams comes up is melody. He is famous for his themes, and rightly so, as he is at the top of his field in the quality of this aspect of his scores. But alongside of that is an ability by which I think he distances himself even further from his contemporaries: he has a truly remarkable power of creating musical analogy for what is going on on the screen.

He is also wonderfully unafraid of complexity. In a field in which simplification is the trend, Williams will still develop variations on his motifs, layer in complex inner voices few will catch in the theater, and generally have musically sophisticated fun while doing his job.

He is also just a very cool guy, with an old school sensibility framed in cheerfulness and a light touch.

February 8, 2022 at 01:47 AM · I agree with Andres. How anyone can have written so much for the screen -- all of it so strikingly original AND so well-matched to the subject matter of the file -- just seems unbelievable. Without Williams's music none of these movies would have been anywhere near as compelling.

February 8, 2022 at 08:38 PM · "Not a fan." Some of his music I find catchy; but I can't name even one sample of it that made me say, after a first hearing, "Oh, I've just got to hear that again." Williams doesn't outright put me off. But his music just doesn't grab me. Case in point: Star Wars.

The Schindler’s List theme I find a bit more engaging; but you won't find me performing it in recital, although I can certainly play it. To me, it's an appealing melody - I have a penchant for these reflective, melancholy tunes where you can show your tone production over more than 3 octaves. But it's so often played that I find myself wondering, as I did with the Mendelssohn e minor concerto during my student years: "What? This piece again? Can't these kids come up with something else?"

February 9, 2022 at 04:43 PM · Re.- Schindler's List theme. The first time I heard it was on the radio, and I missed the intro/announcement. I just stood there, very impressed. I thought "this is really I good, what is it, I thought already knew all of the Tchaikovsky violin solos". Shortly after that I was asked to play the solo and the conductor gave me a plain, unmarked CD copy. I thought the soloist was some studio heavy. I tried to copy him as best I could. Then I found out it was Itzthak Perlman.

Movie composers are really amazing. They have to produce a lot of material on a tight schedule. The music is recorded last, after the final edit. There is no room for writer's block. They need to be able to work as a team with assistants, arrangers, orchestrators. One movie studio music director had a sign on his desk-"They don't want it good, they want it Tuesday".

February 11, 2022 at 12:10 PM · On the subject of film composers' work: Check out this video I came across Thursday, the 10th, on YouTube. I wasn't searching for it. It showed up in my feed - run time: 11:16. Is John Williams a Thief?

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