“It’s pure magic”: Celebrating John Williams and his music

star wars, and many movies we love, wouldn’t be the same without John Williams. With a body of work that includes the scores of the nine films star wars saga, Jaws, Dating of the Third Kind, IndianaJonesand jurassic park, to name a few, Williams’ compositions are ingrained in our memories and our lives. From a dorsal fin emerging from the waters of the beach, to Luke Skywalker gazing longingly at the twin sunsets, to the awe-inspiring sight of a towering brachiosaurus, his music connects us to characters and worlds in ways that touches deeply. It’s romantic, moving, beautiful – to imagine these scenes and films without his music is almost impossible.

Celebrating the legendary composer’s 90th birthdayand anniversary, StarWars.com spoke to those who followed Williams in writing scores for star wars — Michel Giacchino (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Ludwig Goransson (The Mandalorian), John Powell (Solo: A Star Wars Story) and Kevin Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, star wars rebelsand Star Wars: The Bad Batch) — about his influence on cinema and their lives.

Michael Giacchino

Michael Giacchino

Michel Giacchino (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

“To say that John Williams was an inspiration to myself or any contemporary film composer would be the greatest understatement. It’s too hard to say how important his work has been to all of us in this business. Listening to John’s music is not only a masterclass in film composition and storytelling, but John is an example of someone who has used his talent and passion to transform other parts of the musical world, especially his work in the classical arena which not only yielded pieces outside of film music, but his stint in the Boston Pops helped open the door to the acceptance of film music in the concert world , for which I am very grateful.

“The first movie I saw of him was Close Encountersquickly followed by star wars. Once I got to know his work, I learned that I was listening to his music much earlier than I thought – Gilligan’s Island and lost in space were staples in our home. I didn’t know I was already getting an education from John Williams! However, these are the liner notes of star wars – there was an insert in the album – that really piqued my interest in film music. This is where I began to understand how the use of different instruments and thematic materials helped define the characters and emotions of the story.

“I’ve had the honor and privilege of working on video games and films that have followed John’s iconic work. Imagine what the 10-year-old boy who reads the liner notes in my bedroom in New York would think. Jersey! Working on these projects and being able to include Williams’ tributes here and there was a dream come true. John, your music will forever be etched in the history of film music and beyond. Here’s to another 90 years!

Ludwig Goransson

Ludwig Goransson

Ludwig Goransson (The Mandalorian)

“The first time I heard John Williams was at home by the TV in our living room. I must have been about seven years old when I begged my parents to let me watch Jaws with them. During the most visceral scary parts of the movie, my dad covered my eyes. Unable to see what was happening on the screen, I just listened to the sound. This intense music had an extreme effect on me. the Jaws I created in my head was way scarier than what was happening on screen. These fantasies stayed with me for a long time.

“John Williams is the most successful and influential film composer of all time. In fact, I don’t know of any other composer whose music has touched so many people of all ages around the world. It’s pure magic how his music becomes so instantly relatable and therefore also finds life outside of movies and theaters.

“Through the music of John Williams, I was able to connect and understand certain emotions growing up; in my professional career, I often think back to those moments. By scoring The Mandalorianfor example, I thought back to the first time I heard the music of star wars. I have strived to recreate a similar sense of adventure and youthful wonder that I felt as a child. It is truly an honor to carry on such a revered legacy.

“[My favorite John Williams composition]is constantly changing, but for the moment this is his main title for the film Earthquake. The whole score creates such an interesting mix between so many different styles. It’s incredibly special and unique. I love how you can hear his deep love and knowledge of jazz and improvisation in his works.

“John Williams never stops challenging himself or his audience. Each written note is carefully crafted with intention and brought to life with immense care and devotion. exciting and new; her curiosity for the arts shines through. Celebrating 90 years and maintaining that level of passion and drive will always be my North Star guide.

John Powell

John Powell

John Powell (Solo: A Star Wars Story)

” As a matter of fact, [my first exposure to John Williams] was probably fiddler on the roof! It definitely cemented my love for giant Hollywood orchestration and probably made me realize the power of music in storytelling. But then I also remember being abnormally fascinated by the title music for time tunnel. I know that sounds a bit obscure compared to what we know him for, but it says a lot that he’s always been able to excite me: with this incredible rhythmic use of the orchestra, the way which I’m excited about as it connects to the story, and how a plot suddenly seems to move forward when its music is below. And all this before I knew the “film composers”.

“To me, he actually transcends ‘film music’, and he’s just one of the great composers of orchestral music. I’ve said this before, having been privy to seeing a bit of his process – I’ve realized that he’s not, in any way, unusual or incredibly different from all the other composers. He uses the same techniques, the same rules, the same approaches as everyone else. He is simply better than everyone.

Composer Kevin Kiner in the recording studio.

Kevin Kiner

Kevin Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, star wars rebelsand Star Wars: The Bad Batch)

“The first time I remember hearing a score by John Williams was watching star wars in Westwood, California where I was studying at UCLA. I remember thinking, ‘How does he make that sound?’ That and the Superman score set me on a lifelong quest to unlock its secrets and find my own path to creating my own mysteriously wonderful sound.

“He is simply the pinnacle, period. No one else comes close to his virtuosity and mastery of the orchestral score. He defined what a blockbuster should look like.

Happy Birthday John Williams!

Dan Brooks is a writer and editor at StarWars.com. He likes star wars, ELO and the New York Rangers, Jets, Yankees and Knicks. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks.

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KEYWORDS: Interviews, John Williams

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