John Williams at 80: master of the summer blockbuster

Posted on: August 20, 2012


“The composer John Williams turned 80 on Feb. 8, and the milestone was celebrated at a gala concert at Tanglewood on Saturday evening featuring Mr. Williams’s old band, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and contributions from starry guests like Steven Spielberg, Jessye Norman and James Taylor,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Sunday’s (8/19) New York Times. Woolfe describes another recent “satisfying encounter with Mr. Williams’s work (which includes the scores for dozens of films like ‘Jaws,’ ‘JFK,’ ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’) … when I went to see “Jurassic Park,” one of his many collaborations with Mr. Spielberg, at Film Forum in New York. The score remains a wonder. There is no one better than Mr. Williams at drawing out delicious tension before laying down the big, unforgettable theme for the first time as the camera swoops toward the island park early on…. Mr. Williams was hardly the first great film composer, but he was the first master of that great American genre: the summer blockbuster. He may be just as omnipresent from his fanfares, themes and celebratory anthems, which have found their way into every corner of our country’s public life, from NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ to ‘Sunday Night Football,’ from the Olympics to the Statue of Liberty’s centennial. He has created a language of confidence, seriousness and achievement that has stayed reassuringly the same even as so much else has changed. He is a genius of the short theme, the intro and outro, the clip, the sound bite. In this he is unquestionably the composer of our time.”

Posted August 20, 2012