Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
John Williams turned 90 this month. His impressive credentials are well-known. But Williams is arguably more magnificent than we realize. A look at elements of his amazing career this week you may be unaware of.
So many great accomplishments. A 50-year collaboration A 28-film, nearly 50-year collaboration with Steven Spielberg. Fifty-two Oscar nominations – the most for a living person and second only to Walt Disney – with five wins. Four Olympic Games fanfares. One presidential inauguration (Obama).
And let’s talk TV.
Who’d have thought this genius who crafted such magnanimous soundtracks and television tracks actually came up with the theme for the pilot TV episode of a tale of a fateful trip.
Other TV programs followed.
But it’s those big screen blockbusters that come to mind when you think of Williams.
“I think the people who just go: ‘Oh, they all sound the same,’ just can’t justify it any more,” said the London Symphony Orchestra’s first violinist Maxine Kwok. “You can play the first two bars of Superman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and ET and people recognize them instantly. They are all different but by the same man.”
“The one thing he does so amazingly is create memorable tunes,” says British saxophonist Jess Gilliam. “He is a master of melody.”
The above video begs the question: Does Williams garner enough credit as a classical composer?
“I would love for us to delve deeper into the music he has written for violin, flute, cello,” said virtuoso violinist Annie-Sophie Mutter who premiered Williams’s Violin Concerto No 2. “He creates incredibly complex cadenzas for the solo violin. The whole musical structure is really on a higher level, as is everything he writes. We are not doing his genius justice by looking at one part of his oeuvre.”
“His music suits being performed in a concert hall,” said film concert producer Tommy Pearson. “So much film music does not. Also, he writes for a traditional orchestra, which makes it much more compact and easier to perform. He is box office – his concerts always sell out – and he is the only one.”
“His use of the palette of the orchestra is a really extraordinary thing,” said Gilliam. “He knows the extremities of instruments, when to push to get these colours. For me that’s when the music comes to life.”
“When you record a soundtrack, you don’t see the music until the day,” said Kwok. ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ from Harry Potter was so tricky. It’s full of fast notes, sweeping sounds and an incredible series of scales. I remember going to the listening booth thinking: ‘Gosh, I hope that was all right.’”
“For five decades he has touched people around the world. That is spectacular,” said Mutter. “But that is him: a unique gift to the world.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
At the age of 90 Williams is now working on his fifth Indiana Jones film.