John Williams (1932-)

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01Meeting Spielberg2013011420130930

John Williams on his early jazz career and first meeting with director Steven Spielberg.

John Williams talks to Donald Macleod about a date with a young rookie director that changed movie history. Williams discusses the lunch meeting with Steven Spielberg in 1972 that precipitated one of the cinema's greatest partnerships - as well as introducing his pioneering score to Spielberg's "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind".

Before that, we hear about Williams's early life in jazz, working with Henry Mancini and André Previn, and composing big band jazz scores for television - including the detective drama Checkmate. The composer discusses his experiences in the hothouse film and TV studios of the 1960s, and introduces his score to the TV film Jane Eyre, for which he visited the Yorkshire Dales.

The programme ends with the first of a series of Williams's concert works - the pungently dissonant, Bartók-tinged Flute Concerto from 1969.

Film music legend John Williams speaks exclusively to BBC Radio 3's Composer Of The Week, with more than four hours of music spanning Williams' entire career - including his scores to Star Wars, E.T., Schindler's List, Harry Potter.and many many more.

John Williams is probably the most recognised - and popular - composer in the world today. In a career spanning more than half a century, he's delighted and entranced audiences with his scores to an unparalleled roll-call of movie blockbusters, and taken film music out of the cinema and into the living rooms of millions of people worldwide. He's been nominated for more Oscars than anyone in history, after Walt Disney.

In Williams' 80th birthday year, he discusses his remarkable life in music and film with Donald Macleod, in an interview recorded last Autumn at Universal Studios, Los Angeles - with five hour-long episodes showcasing some of Williams' most beloved film scores and works for the concert hall.

Fans of Williams' legendary music to Star Wars will enjoy Tuesday and Friday's programmes, as we feature extended excerpts from across all six movies in the Star Wars series, including one of Williams' most brilliant musical sequences - the Battle Of Hoth, from The Empire Strikes Back. Williams chats to Donald Macleod about how he and George Lucas dreamed up the score to these 'space operas', the plot clues he secreted deep in the musical scores, and the challenge of returning to his music nearly two decades on.

But naturally, it's John Williams' relationship with Steven Spielberg that dominates the week, as the composer talks about how a chance meeting with a rookie director in 1972 blossomed into one of the most brilliant partnerships in movie history.

We'll hear extended excerpts from Williams' Spielberg scores throughout the week, beginning with E.T., Close Encounters and Jaws on Monday and Tuesday - before Wednesday's episode concentrates on Williams' tragic, Oscar-winning music to Schindler's List, as the composer discusses how he approached the almost impossible task of composing music for Spielberg's Holocaust drama.

Thursday and Friday bring us right up to date, as Williams chats about creating music for the fantastical worlds of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park, and his recent scores to A.I. and Tintin. Williams also lifts the lid on his work on a host of other Hollywood directors, including his scores for Richard Donner's Superman, Oliver Stone's J.F.K., and - most surprisingly perhaps - his score to Alfred Hitchcock's last film, Family Plot.

But this week is not just about film. John Williams has enjoyed an acclaimed career as jazz bandleader and conductor and composer for the concert hall. Throughout the week, we'll be hearing about this less well-known side of his career - as the composer talks about his early life as a jazz pianist, writing TV scores in the studio hothouses of Los Angeles, and the orchestral concert works that have spanned his career. Listeners who thought Williams was 'just a film composer' might be surprised, as he evokes Stravinsky, Bernstein and Tippett in a series of acerbic and effervescent instrumental concerti.

John Williams speaks exclusively to Donald Macleod in "Composer Of The Week", from 7th-11th January on BBC Radio 3.

John Williams talks to Donald Macleod about a date with a young rookie director that changed movie history. Williams discusses the lunch meeting with Steven Spielberg in 1972 that precipitated one of the film's greatest partnerships - as well as introducing his pioneering score to Spielberg's "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind".

Before that, we hear about Williams' early life in jazz, working with Henry Mancini and André Previn, and composing big band jazz scores for television - including the detective drama Checkmate. The composer discusses his experiences in the hothouse film and TV studios of the 1960s, and introduces his score to the TV film Jane Eyre, for which he visited the Yorkshire Dales.

The programme ends with the first of a series of Williams' concert works - the pungently dissonant, Bartók-tinged Flute Concerto from 1969.

E.T. - Flying Theme

LSO / John Williams

SONY CLASSICAL S2K51333 - Disc 1, Track 2

Checkmate (1960)

Main Theme

The Bishop's Retreat

Cyanide Touch

The Johnny Williams Orchestra

Jane Eyre (1971)

Theme from "Jane Eyre"

Restoration

City Of Prague Philharmonic / Nic Raine

PRIMETIME TVPMCD810 - Disc 3, Tracks 2 and 4

Suite: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra / Zubin Mehta

DECCA 4178462 - Track 7

Flute Concerto (1969)

Peter Lloyd (flute)

LSO / Leonard Slatkin

VARESE SARABANDE VSD5345 - Track 4.

02Star Wars2013011520131001

John Williams discusses his celebrated music for the Star Wars film series.

Star Wars: the greatest movie score of all time (according to the American Film Institute) - exclusively introduced by the composer himself on BBC Radio 3.

John Williams talks to Donald Macleod about the most famous film score in history. He discusses the moment George Lucas proposed his "space opera", and explains why he chose the 'old-fashioned', lush Romantic style of Tchaikovsky and Korngold to accompany this futuristic tale of aliens and spaceships.

We'll hear some of the most memorable musical moments from the first three films to be made (Episodes IV-VI), including the iconic Main Title, the Imperial March, and Luke and Leia's Theme. Donald Macleod also introduces perhaps the finest extended musical sequence in the series: Williams's mesmerising score to the battle on the ice planet of Hoth.

The programme ends with a deeply personal work in Williams's career - his Violin Concerto, written by the grieving composer after the tragic death of his first wife, Barbara Ruick Williams; a tragedy that overshadowed the huge success his music enjoyed in the mid 1970s.

We'll hear some of the most memorable musical moments from the first three films to be made (Episodes IV-VI), including the iconic Main Title, the Imperial March, and Luke and Leia's Theme. Donald Macleod also introduces perhaps the finest extended musical sequence in the series: Williams' mesmerising score to the battle on the ice planet of Hoth.

The programme ends with a deeply personal work in Williams' career - his Violin Concerto, written by the grieving composer after the tragic death of his first wife, Barbara Ruick Williams; a tragedy that overshadowed the huge success his music enjoyed in the mid 1970s.

Jaws (1975): Main Title

Universal Studios Orchestra / John Williams

DECCA 4670452 - Track 1

Star Wars: Episode IV "A New Hope" (1977)

Main Title - Rebel Blockade Runner

Leia's Theme

The Millennium Falcon / Imperial Cruiser Pursuit

LSO / John Williams

RCA 09026687722 - Disc 1, Track 2; Disc 2, Tracks 1 & 2

Star Wars: Episode V "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980)

The Battle Of Hoth

The Imperial March - Darth Vader's Theme

SONY CLASSICAL S2K92951 - Disc 1, Track 5; Disc 2, Track 1

Violin Concerto "In Memory of B.R.W." (1976)

I. Moderato

Gil Shaham (violin); Boston SO / John Williams

DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4713262 - Track 4

Star Wars: Episode VI "Return Of The Jedi"

Luke and Leia

03America's Composer2013011620131002

John Williams talks to Donald Macleod about his score for Spielberg's Schindler's List.

John Williams talks to Donald Macleod about working with Steven Spielberg on the Holocaust drama, Schindler's List - and how he approached the enormous challenge of writing music to complement such a tragic and harrowing story. We'll hear excerpts from his Oscar-winning score, infused with the inflections of Jewish traditional music.

Before this, a very different - and much loved - Spielberg score: Williams's music to the "Indiana Jones" series of films, and the composer's Olympic Fanfare, written for the Los Angeles Summer Games of 1984, and reprised every games since.

We end with a real rarity, and probably a real surprise to many: John Williams's score to Alfred Hitchcock's last film, Family Plot. Williams is one of the very few people in history to have worked closely with both Hitchcock and Spielberg - and he tells us how these two directorial giants compare.

Superman (1978): Main Title 4.25

LSO / John Williams

SONY CLASSICAL S2K51333 - Disc 1, Track 3

Indiana Jones and the Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)

The Adventures Of Mutt

Raiders March

Hollywood Studio Orchestra / John Williams

CONCORD 7230856 - Tracks 1 & 3

Olympic Fanfare (1984)

Orchestra of the Brandenburg State Opera, Cottbus / Evan Christ

TELOS TEOS 165 - Track 5

J.F.K. (1991): Arlington and End Titles

City of Prague Philharmonic / Nic Raine

PRIMETIME TVPMCD810 - Disc 4, Track 3

Schindler's List (1993)

Theme From Schindler's List

Oyf'n Pripetshok / Nacht Aktion

Remembrances

Theme From Schindler's List (Reprise)

Itzhak Perlman (violin); Giora Feldman(clarinet);

Li-Ron Herzeliya Children's Choir + Boston Symphony Orchestra / John Williams

MCA MCAD10969 - Tracks 1, 6, 13, 14

Family Plot (1976): End Title

City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Bateman

PRIMETIME TVPMCD810 - Disc 3, Track 8.

04Master Of Fantasy2013011720131003

John Williams explains how he created the scores for Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and AI.

Music of the fantastical and the fabulous today, as John Williams explains to Donald Macleod how he created his scores for Jurassic Park and to the Harry Potter series - with musical highlights from the first three Williams-scored films, in which the composer's love of Viennese waltzes, big band jazz, and Victorian Gothic are given free rein...

After a unique concerto for bassoon and orchestra, inspired by trees and the writings of Robert Graves, John Williams introduces a score unique in his output - his music to Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, in which he draws upon the minimalist style of Philip Glass and John Adams to create one of his finest futuristic scores.

Suite From Jurassic Park (1993)

City Of Prague Philharmonic Philharmonic / Paul Bateman

PRIMETIME TVPMCD810 - Disc 2, Track 4

Bassoon Concerto: Five Sacred Trees (1995)

III. Eó Rossa

IV. Craeb Uisnig

Judith Le Clair (bassoon); LSO / John Williams

SONY CLASSICAL SK 62729 - Tracks 3 & 4

Excerpts from the "Harry Potter" series

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

Hedwig's Theme

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Aunt Marge's Waltz

The Knight Bus

Professor Hagrid

The Dementors Converge

Studio Orchestra / John Williams

WARNER 7567930865 - Track 19

WARNER 7567837115 - Tracks 2, 3, 11 & 19

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)

The Mecha World

Rouge City

The Reunion

WARNER 9362480962 - Tracks 1, 10, 12.

05 LASTStar Wars Revisited2013011820131004

John Williams on the challenges of returning to the Star Wars series nearly two decades on

John Williams talks exclusively to Donald Macleod for the final time this week, with Star Wars once more taking centre stage.

Williams discusses the challenges of returning to the Star Wars series, nearly two decades on, and the hidden plot clues buried deep in his music. We'll hear highlights from Williams's brand-new music for the three 'prequels' (Eps I-III), including Duel Of The Fates and the climactic Battle Of The Heroes.

The programme opens with two recent works that throw back to his background in big bands and concert halls - the effervescent, jazz-infused Main Title from Tintin - and a spiky, Stravinskyan Horn Concerto. We also showcase one of Williams's most haunting scores of the previous decade - his music to Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha.

Donald Macleod ends the week with thoughts on John Williams's career and position as "America's composer", a unique musical voice transcending popular and classical music, and arguably the inheritor of a mantle once held by Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein. The week plays out with Williams's music for the inauguration of Barack Obama as US President in 2008 - his Air and Simple Gifts.

Williams discusses the challenges of returning to the Star Wars series, nearly two decades on, and the hidden plot clues buried deep in his music.We'll hear highlights from Williams brand new music for the three 'prequels' (Eps I-III), including "Duel Of The Fates" and the climactic "Battle Of The Heroes".

The programme opens with two recent works that throw back to his background in big bands and concert halls - the effervescent, jazz-infused Main Title from Tintin - and a spiky, Stravinskyan Horn Concerto. We also showcase one of Williams' most haunting scores of the previous decade - his music to Rob Marshall's Memoirs Of A Geisha.

Donald Macleod ends the week with thoughts on John Williams' career and position as "America's composer", a unique musical voice transcending popular and classical music, and arguably the inheritor of a mantle once held by Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein. The week plays out with Williams' music for the inauguration of Barack Obama as U.S. President in 2008 - his "Air and Simple Gifts".