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John Williams
John Williams tux.jpg
Williams at the Avery Fisher Hall in 2007
Background information
Birth name John Towner Williams, Jr.
Born (1932-02-08) February 8, 1932 (age 89)
Floral Park, New York, U.S.
Genres Film score, contemporary classical music, jazz
Occupation(s) Composer, conductor, pianist
Years active 1952–present

John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer and conductor. He has composed many soundtracks for blockbuster movies such as Star Wars, Superman, Jaws, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Harry Potter.

Early life

William was born in Long Island, New York on February 8, 1932. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles and at the Julliard School. His parents were Esther and Johnny Williams.


He is best known for his scores (soundtracks) for movies such as Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, E.T., Indiana Jones, Home Alone, Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and Lincoln. He conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conducts for them a few times each year especially around Christmas time.

Williams has composed music for all but two of Steven Spielberg's movies (Duel and The Color Purple).

John Williams Hollywood Bowl
Williams conducting at Hollywood Bowl, September 2009

For Barack Obama's presidential inauguration on January 20, 2009, John Williams made a special arrangement of the Shaker hymn "Air and Simple Gifts". It was performed by four musicians: the violinist Itzhak Perlman, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the clarinetist Anthony McGill and the pianist Gabriela Montero.

Williams also created the theme music for four Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football, the NBC Nightly News, the Statue of Liberty's rededication, the television series Lost in Space and Land of the Giants, and the original, not as well known calypso-based theme song to Gilligan's Island.

In 2015, Williams scored Star Wars: The Force Awakens, earning him his 50th Academy Award nomination.

In 2016, Williams composed the score for Spielberg's The BFG, which opened in July 2016.

In 2017, Williams scored the animated short film Dear Basketball, directed by Glen Keane and based on a poem by Kobe Bryant. He also wrote the music for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode of the saga, and Steven Spielberg's drama film The Post, both of which opened in December 2017.

Williams contributed "The Adventures of Han" and several additional demos for the 2018 standalone Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story, while John Powell wrote the film's original score and adapted Williams's music.

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.

In July 2018, Williams composed the main musical theme for Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park attraction Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

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.

Williams is attached to score the fifth Indiana Jones film.

Personal life

Williams was married to actress Barbara Ruick from 1956 until her death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1974. They had three children: Jennifer, Joseph and Mark. In 1980, he married Samantha Winslow. They live in Los Angeles, California.

Awards and honors

John Williams & Stanley Donan
Stanley Donen (left) and John Williams at Avery Fisher Hall, New York City

John Williams has been nominated for 52 Academy Awards, winning five; six Emmy Awards, winning three; 25 Golden Globe Awards, winning four; 71 Grammy Awards, winning 25; and has received seven British Academy Film Awards. With 52 Oscar nominations, Williams currently holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person, and is the second most nominated person in Academy Awards history behind Walt Disney's 59.

Williams has also won 4 Golden Globe Awards, 7 British Academy Film Awards and 21 Grammy Awards. Williams was honored with the annual Richard Kirk award at the 1999 BMI Film and TV Awards, recognizing his contribution to movies and television music.

Williams is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national fraternity for college band members. Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.

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 2018 the performing rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. established The John Williams Award, of which Williams became the first recipient.

In 2020 Williams received the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society as well as the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts (jointly with Ennio Morricone).

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