Conductor John Towner Williams (Floral Park, 8 February 1932) is an American orchestral conductor and composer, known and appreciated for his numerous film scores.
At age 7, he began studying music and began playing the piano, trombone, trumpet, and clarinet. The boy quickly demonstrated precocious talent, and began composing for school bands first and for the U.S. Air Force during his military service. On discharge he writes at the Juilliard School of Music as a piano student under Rosina Lhevinne. Later in Hollywood he continued his musical studies with Arthur Olaf Anderson and the Italian Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco. An important contribution to his education was undoubtedly made by the contacts he had as a pianist working with such composers as Herrmann and Mancini.
The composer's output is endless, ranging from films, to productions for the Olympics, TV series, and theme songs for TV shows, as well as symphonic pieces and concertos for solo instrument. He has written all of director Steven Spielberg's film scores except those for Duel, The Twilight Zone, and The Color Purple. Particularly interesting is the soundtrack composed for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; the last track, about 15 minutes long, was composed in close collaboration with the director, who made specific cuts and edits at some points to fit the musical and emotional crescendo. It represents a rarity in soundtracks.
His musical contribution for the 1977 Star Wars saga is also very important; the success of the completely symphonic soundtrack gave great impetus and momentum to the subsequent use of symphonic music (sometimes relying on famous orchestras) in films. He also composed the music for the other films in the Star Wars saga in 1980, 1983, 1999, 2002 and 2005.
From January 1980 to December 1993, he was the nineteenth conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, bringing its works from the field of film music to the stage of Boston Symphony Hall annually. Even now once a year he returns to conduct as a special guest of the BPO.
Also of note are the soundtracks for such cinematic successes as Superman, Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones sagas (for which he composed the soundtracks for all of the films), and Harry Potter (Williams composed the music for the first three films in the series, and for the two-part film adaptation of the last book in that saga).
Also of note are the scores for successful films such as JFK, Memoirs of a Geisha, Munich, Hook, Amistad, Schindler's List and The Patriot.
Williams is also responsible for the famous music for the first two chapters of the Jaws saga, and for films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A.I., Born on the Fourth of July, The Terminal, Seven Years in Tibet, War of the Worlds, and Saving Private Ryan.