|Height:||182 cm (5' 12'')|
|Birth Day:||February 8, 1932|
|Birth Place:||Long Island, United States|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|182 cm (5' 12'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
He was drafted into the U.S. Air Force in 1952, during which time he arranged and conducted for The U.S. Air Force Band.
John Towner Williams was born on February 8, 1932, in Flushing, New York, to Esther (née Towner) and Johnny Williams, a jazz drummer and percussionist who played with the Raymond Scott Quintet. Williams has said of his lineage, "My father was a Maine man—we were very close. My mother was from Boston. My father's parents ran a department store in Bangor, Maine, and my mother's father was a cabinetmaker. [...] People with those roots are not inclined to be lazy."
In 1948, the Williams family moved to Los Angeles where John attended North Hollywood High School, graduating in 1950. He later attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and studied composition privately with the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Williams also attended Los Angeles City College for one semester, as the school had a Studio Jazz Band.
In 1951, Williams was drafted into the U.S. Air Force, where he played the piano and brass and conducted and arranged music for The U.S. Air Force Band as part of his assignments. In a 2016 interview with the US Air Force band, he recounted having attended basic Air Force training at Lackland base (San Antonio, Texas), after which he served as a pianist and brass player, with secondary duties of making arrangements for three years. He also attended music courses at the University of Arizona as part of his service.
Williams's first film composition was for You Are Welcome—a promotional film for the tourist information office of Newfoundland, created in 1954 when Williams was stationed at Pepperrell Air Force Base. Williams's first feature film composition was in 1958 for the B movie Daddy-O, and his first screen credit came two years later in Because They're Young. He soon gained notice in Hollywood for his versatility in composing jazz, piano, and symphonic music. Williams received his first Academy Award nomination for his score for 1967's Valley of the Dolls, and was nominated again for his score for 1969's Goodbye, Mr. Chips. He won his first Academy Award for his score for the 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof. In 1972 he composed the score for the Robert Altman-directed psychological thriller Images (recorded in collaboration with noted percussionist Stomu Yamashta), which earned him another nomination in the category Best Music, Original Dramatic Score at the 1973 Academy Awards.
In 1955, following his Air Force service, Williams moved to New York City and entered the Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Rosina Lhévinne. During this time Williams worked as a jazz pianist in the city's many jazz clubs.
In 1956, Williams married Barbara Ruick, an American actress and singer. They had three children: Jennifer (b. 1956), Mark Towner Williams (b. 1958), and Joseph (b. 1960), the lead singer of Toto. The two remained married until her death in 1974. In 1980, Williams married Samantha Winslow, a photographer.
In 1974 director Steven Spielberg approached Williams to compose the music for his feature directorial debut, The Sugarland Express. They teamed up again a year later for Spielberg's second film, Jaws. Widely considered a classic suspense film, its score's ominous, two-note ostinato has become synonymous with sharks and approaching danger. The score earned Williams his second Academy Award, his first for an original composition.
In 1980 Williams returned to score The Empire Strikes Back, introducing "The Imperial March" as the theme for Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire, "Yoda's Theme", and "Han Solo and the Princess". The original Star Wars trilogy concluded with the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, for which Williams's score provided most notably the "Emperor's Theme", "Parade of the Ewoks", and "Luke and Leia". Both scores earned him Academy Award nominations.
From 1980 to 1993 Williams served as the Boston Pops Orchestra's Principal Conductor, succeeding Arthur Fiedler. Williams never met Fiedler in person but spoke with him by telephone. His arrival as the Pops' new leader in the spring of 1980 allowed him to devote part of the Pops' first PBS broadcast of the season to presenting his new compositions for The Empire Strikes Back.
In 1980, Williams received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.
Williams almost ended his tenure with the Pops in 1984 when some players hissed while sight-reading a new Williams composition in rehearsal; Williams abruptly left the session and turned in his resignation. He initially cited mounting conflicts with his film composing schedule, but later admitted a perceived lack of discipline in, and respect from, the Pops' ranks, culminating in this latest instance. After entreaties by the management and personal apologies from the musicians, Williams withdrew his resignation and continued as principal conductor for nine more years. In 1995 he was succeeded by Keith Lockhart, the former associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.
In 1985 Williams was commissioned by NBC to compose a television news music package for various network news spots. The package, which Williams named "The Mission," consists of four movements, two of which are still used heavily by NBC today for Today, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press. He composed the "Liberty Fanfare" for the Statue of Liberty's rededication, "We're Lookin' Good!" for the Special Olympics in celebration of the 1987 International Summer Games, and themes for the 1984, 1988, 1996, and 2002 Olympic Games. His most recent concert work, "Seven for Luck", for soprano and orchestra, is a seven-piece song cycle based on the texts of former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. "Seven for Luck" was given its world premiere by the Boston Symphony under Williams with soprano Cynthia Haymon.
Since 1988, Williams has been honored with 15 Sammy Film Music Awards, the longest-running awards for film music recordings.
Williams has written many concert pieces, including a symphony; a Concerto for Horn written for Dale Clevenger, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Principal Hornist; a Concerto for Clarinet written for Michele Zukovsky (the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Principal Clarinetist) in 1991; a sinfonietta for wind ensemble; a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1994; concertos for the flute and violin recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra; and a trumpet concerto, which was premiered by The Cleveland Orchestra and their principal trumpet Michael Sachs in September 1996.
Williams received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Boston College in 1993 and from Harvard University in 2017.
His bassoon concerto, "The Five Sacred Trees", which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and principal bassoon player Judith LeClair in 1995, was recorded for Sony Classical by Williams with LeClair and the London Symphony Orchestra. Williams was the subject of an hour-long documentary for the BBC in 1980, and was featured in a report on 20/20 in 1983.
In 1999, Lucas launched the first of three prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy. Williams was asked to score all three, starting with The Phantom Menace. Along with themes from the previous films, Williams created new themes to be used as leitmotifs in 2002's Attack of the Clones and 2005's Revenge of the Sith. Most notable of these was "Duel of the Fates", an aggressive choral movement in the style of Verdi's Requiem, utilizing harsh Sanskrit lyrics that broadened the style of music used in the Star Wars films. Also of note was "Anakin's Theme", which begins as an innocent childlike melody and morphs insidiously into a quote of the sinister "Imperial March." For Episode II Williams composed "Across the Stars", a love theme for Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker (mirroring the love theme composed for The Empire Strikes Back). The final installment combined many of the themes created for the series' previous films, including "The Emperor's Theme," "The Imperial March", "Across the Stars", "Duel of the Fates", "The Force Theme", "Rebel Fanfare", "Luke's Theme", and "Princess Leia's Theme", as well as new themes for General Grievous and the film's climax, titled "Battle of the Heroes".
In 2000, Williams received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.
In 2002, for the 20th anniversary edition of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Williams composed a reorchestrated score for the Universal Pictures logo segueing to music from the movie.
Williams makes annual appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and took part as conductor and composer in the orchestra's opening gala concerts for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003. In 2004 he both served as the Grand Marshal for the Rose Parade, and directed "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Rose Bowl's beginning. In April 2005, Williams and the Boston Pops performed the "Throne Room Finale" from Star Wars at opening day in Fenway Park as the Boston Red Sox, having won their first World Series championship since 1918, received their championship rings. For Game 1 of the 2007 World Series, Williams conducted a brass-and-drum ensemble through a new dissonant arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner."
In 2003, the International Olympic Committee accorded Williams its highest individual honor, the Olympic Order.
In February 2004, April 2006, and September 2007, Williams conducted the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The initial program was intended to be a one-time special event, and featured Williams's medley of Oscar-winning film scores first performed at the previous year's Academy Awards. Its unprecedented popularity led to two concerts in 2006: fundraising gala events featuring personal recollections by film directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Continuing demand fueled three more concerts in 2007, which all sold out. These featured a tribute to the musicals of film director Stanley Donen, and had the distinction of serving as the New York Philharmonic season's opening event. After a three-season absence, Williams conducted the Philharmonic once again in October 2011.
Williams has been inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Williams was honored with the annual Richard Kirk award at the 1999 BMI Film and TV Awards, recognizing his contribution to film and television music. In 2004 he received Kennedy Center Honors. He won a Classic Brit Award in 2005 for his soundtrack work of the previous year.
In 2006, Superman Returns was directed by Bryan Singer, best known for directing the first two films in the X-Men series. Singer did not request Williams to compose a score for the intentionally Donner-esque film, but he employed the skills of X2 composer John Ottman to incorporate Williams's original Superman theme as well as those for Lois Lane, Krypton and Smallville. In 2011 the "Main Title Theme" and elements of "Can You Read My Mind" were used in the final scene of "Finale," the series finale of the WB/CW television series Smallville. Don Davis, recommended by Williams to the producers, performed a similar role for Jurassic Park III.
In 2008, Williams returned to the Indiana Jones series to score the fourth film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He received a Grammy nomination for his work on the film. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was also the only film score from the Indiana Jones film series not to be nominated for an Academy Award. Also in 2008 Williams composed music for two documentaries, Warner at War and A Timeless Call, the latter directed by Spielberg.
In 2009, Williams received the National Medal of Arts in the White House in Washington, D.C., for his achievements in symphonic music for films, and "as a pre-eminent composer and conductor [whose] scores have defined and inspired modern movie-going for decades."
After a three-year absence from film scoring, in 2011 Williams composed the scores for Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse. Both scores received overwhelmingly positive reviews and earned Academy Award nominations, the latter also being nominated for a Golden Globe. The Oscar nominations were Williams's 46th and 47th, making him the most nominated musician in Academy Award history (having previously been tied with Alfred Newman's 45 nominations), and the second most nominated overall, behind Walt Disney. Williams won an Annie Award for his score for The Adventures of Tintin. In 2012 he scored Spielberg's film Lincoln and subsequently received his 48th Academy Award nomination.
In 2012, Williams received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.
In February 2013, Williams expressed interest in working on the Star Wars sequel trilogy, saying: "Now we're hearing of a new set of movies coming in 2015, 2016... so I need to make sure I'm still ready to go in a few years for what I hope would be continued work with George." He also scored the 2013 film The Book Thief, his first collaboration with a director other than Spielberg since 2005. The score earned him an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations and a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition. It was his 44th nomination for Best Original Score (and 49th overall), setting a new record for the most nominations in that category (he tied Alfred Newman's record of 43 nominations in 2013).
In 2013, Williams was presented with the Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award.
Maestro Williams also conducted the National Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the Joint Armed Forces Chorus, and the Choral Arts Society of Washington performing his new arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for its 200th anniversary. The performance was held at A Capitol Fourth, an Independence Day celebration concert in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2014.
In 2015, Williams scored Star Wars: The Force Awakens, earning him his 50th Academy Award nomination. He was also set to write the score for Bridge of Spies that year, which would have been his 27th collaboration with Spielberg, but in March 2015 it was announced that Thomas Newman would score it instead, as Williams's schedule was interrupted by a minor health issue. This was the first Spielberg film since The Color Purple (1985) not scored by Williams.
In 2016, Williams composed the score for Spielberg's The BFG, which opened in July 2016.
In March 2017, Williams scored the animated short film Dear Basketball, directed by Glen Keane and based on a poem by Kobe Bryant.
Williams wrote the music for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode of the saga, released on December 15, 2017, and its sequel Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was released on December 20, 2019. Also in 2017 he scored Steven Spielberg's drama film The Post.
A three-disc box set compilation of all of Williams's musical scores for Spielberg's films, John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection, was released on March 17, 2017, and includes two previous score compilations from 1991 and 1995.
Williams's body of work in film composing was featured in the 2017 documentary film SCORE: A Film Music Documentary.
On April 13, 2017, at Star Wars Celebration Orlando, Williams performed a surprise concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra featuring "Princess Leia's Theme" (a tribute to the recently deceased Carrie Fisher), "The Imperial March" and "Main Title" followed by George Lucas saying, "The secret sauce of Star Wars, the greatest composer-conductor in the universe, John Williams".
In March 2018, Williams announced that following Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was released in December 2019, he would retire from composing music for the Star Wars franchise: "We know J. J. Abrams is preparing one Star Wars movie now that I will hopefully do next year for him. I look forward to it. It will round out a series of nine, that will be quite enough for me." In addition, Williams makes a cameo in the film as Oma Tres, a Kijimi bartender.
In June 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Williams as one of hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra invited Williams to lead concerts in January 2020, his first engagement with a European orchestra, for an all-Williams concert featuring arranger/violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist.
In 2020, Williams won the Grammy Award for "Best Instrumental Composition" for composing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite, and he received his 52nd Oscar nomination for "Best Original Score" at the 92nd Academy Awards for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
In 2020, Williams was awarded the Princess of Asturias Award in the category of Arts (jointly with Ennio Morricone).
Currently, John Williams is 90 years, 6 months and 7 days old. John Williams will celebrate 91st birthday on a Wednesday 8th of February 2023.
Find out about John Williams birthday activities in timeline view here.