John Williams’s movie scores: an appreciation

Posted on: January 6, 2016

On Friday (1/1) at the New Yorker, Alex Ross writes that composer John Williams “has received forty-nine Oscar nominations, with a fiftieth almost certain for 2016 [for The Force Awakens]. Perhaps his most crucial contribution is the role he has played in preserving the art of orchestral film music.… Composer Andrew Norman took up writing music after watching ‘Star Wars’ on video…. The conductor David Robertson … regularly stages all-Williams concerts with the St. Louis Symphony…. It has long been fashionable to dismiss Williams as a mere pasticheur…. The Tatooine desert in ‘Star Wars’ is a dead ringer for the steppes of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring.’ … Jeremy Orosz, in a recent academic paper, describes these gestures as ‘paraphrases’ … rather than quoting outright.… The latest ‘Star Wars’ score offers an ingenious interplay of beloved motifs while adding a fair amount of fresh material… Kylo Ren, a troubled youth who aspires to be Darth Vader, is given a brassy, jagged figure dominated by a stagey tritone. Rey, a rising heroine, has a minor-key melody that seems related to Williams’s Force motif—itself a cousin of Wagner’s Siegfried—while possessing its own airy, modal character.”

Posted January 6, 2016