Tuesday, February 21, 2012

John Williams at 80 - More Than a Movie Composer?

As John Williams turns eighty, my thoughts and reactions pertaining to this famed musician splay in more than the one direction pointed at his movie music. To explain:
When I think of the famed composers who wrote for the movies, I think of the likes of Max Steiner, or Franz Waxman, or Miklos Rosza, or Herbert Stothart, and others who were connected with such screen classics as "Gone With The Wind," "How Green Was My Valley," "Mrs. Miniver," "Casablanca," etc., etc., etc.
In the case of these famous composers, I was able virtually every time to identify the composer before his name appeared on the Credits list at the beginning of each movie. For the most part, the generic nature of their music was clearly available to me - and I hasten to point out that the word 'generic' is not in a negative light; actually, their particular styles led to the enhancement of their careers.
In the case of John Williams, in such wonderful scores ranging from "Jaws'' through "E.T" to "Schindler's List" and many more first-rate movies, I found that I could not very often identify the music of Williams before his name would appear in the Credits - and he is the only movie composer who evades my ability very often to identify before the fact of disclosure.
This leads me into consideration that John Williams is not only the famous composer of movie music the world knows, but also, in my view, a composer of major stature, with a language that puts him, arguably, into the category of Composer, not just Movie Composer, with a truly unique voice.
His use of the diatonic system, which Bach formally put the stamp of approval on by way of his Preludes and Fugues in the so-called "Well-Tempered" system some three centuries ago, is still very much alive and constantly revivified in so many diverse methods, that Williams, for me, must be considered not only the famous movie composer that he deservedly is, but also a composer of major import in our time.
I think that I should really enjoy playing a sonata or concerto or etude or suite for piano by John Williams.
Mr. Williams, - I eagerly await!

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