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"Once again, John Williams has exceeded my expectations and produced a lavish, rich, moving and thrilling score. Every fan of Star Wars—and of great music—is in his debt."
George Lucas[src]

John Towner Williams is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. He has composed nearly all of the music heard in the Star Wars films. He has also composed scores for multiple other well-known movies and television shows.

Biography[edit | edit source]

John Towner Williams was born on February 8, 1932,[1] in Floral Park, New York, USA. His father was a jazz drummer and percussionist in the CBS Radio Orchestra and the Raymond Scott Quintette. After moving to Los Angeles in 1948, he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles City College, where he studied orchestration under MGM musical associate Robert van Eps and was privately tutored by composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

In 1952, he was drafted into the United States Air Force, spending the next two years conducting and arranging music for Air Force bands. Afterward, he went to the famous music school Juilliard in New York, where he was able to improve his piano performance skills under the tutelage of the renowned Madame Rosina Levinne. Later, he returned to Los Angeles and worked as a piano player for film studios. In 1956, he became a staff arranger at Columbia Pictures, and then at 20th Century Fox. His combined dream of music and film were merged.

As "Johnny" Williams, he composed music to such classic TV series as Wagon Train, Gilligan's Island, and Bachelor Father. These works paved the way for him to Irwin Allen's Lost in Space.

Williams conducting the London Symphony Orchestra

He achieved success with None But the Brave (1965), followed by an Oscar nomination for Valley of the Dolls in 1968. Four years later, he won the Oscars for Best Music, Scoring Adaptation, and Original Song Score for Fiddler on the Roof. Much of what he worked on won him awards and nominations. He became one of the most popular composers and was mentioned with talent equal to Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, and Elmer Bernstein. He had six nominations within five years, among them two double-nominations in 1969 and 1972 for the films Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Rievers, Images, The Poseidon Adventure, Cinderella Liberty, and Hell Tower.

In 1974, he met Steven Spielberg, then just a novice director, who asked him to write music for The Sugarland Express. For their next film, Jaws, Williams created frightening compositions that convincingly expressed the approach of the shark and set a basic feeling for the film. John Williams was pivotal to the huge success of the movie, which earned him his first Academy Award for Best Original Score.

In 1977, he composed the music for Star Wars, which turned out to be a huge success. Star Wars became the best-selling score-only soundtrack of all time and won him yet another Oscar.

Throughout the years, Williams' longtime collaboration with Spielberg had earned him two more Oscars for his scores to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler's List.

He was also contracted to write the music for the Olympic Games.

With 46 Academy Award nominations to date, Williams holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person.

Williams's son, Joseph Williams, chose a musical career like his father. The two worked together on Return of the Jedi and Attack of the Clones.

Rick McCallum stated at Star Wars Reunion II that he had hoped to have John Williams on the musical score for the Star Wars live-action TV series and added that each episode would have had its own original score.

Some of his most notable work includes many of the works of Steven Spielberg.

Star Wars work[edit | edit source]

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

  • Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner
  • Imperial Attack
  • The Dune Sea of Tatooine/Jawa Sandcrawler
  • The Hologram / Moisture Farm
  • Binary Sunset
  • Landspeeder Search/Attack of the Sand People
  • Tales of a Jedi Knight/Learn About the Force
  • Burning Homestead
  • Mos Eisley Spaceport
  • Cantina Band (Source Music)
  • Binary Sunset (Alternate)
  • Princess Leia's Theme
  • The Millennium Falcon/Imperial Cruiser Pursuit
  • Destruction of Alderaan
  • The Death Star/The Stormtroopers
  • Wookiee Prisoner/Detention Block Ambush
  • Shootout in the Cell Bay/Dianoga
  • The Trash Compactor
  • The Tractor Beam / Chasm Crossfire
  • Ben Kenobi's Death / TIE Fighter Attack
  • The Battle of Yavin (Launch from the Fourth Moon/X-Wings Draw Fire/Use the Force)
  • The Throne Room/End Title

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

  • Main Title/The Ice Planet Hoth
  • The Wampa's Lair/Vision of Obi-Wan/Snowspeeders Take Flight
  • The Imperial Probe/Aboard The Executor
  • The Battle of Hoth (Ion Cannon/Imperial Walkers/Beneath the AT-AT/Escape in the Millennium Falcon)
  • The Asteroid Field
  • Arrival on Dagobah
  • Luke's Nocturnal Visitor
  • Han Solo and the Princess
  • Jedi Master Revealed/Mynock Cave
  • The Training of a Jedi Knight/The Magic Tree
  • The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)
  • Yoda's Theme
  • Attacking a Star Destroyer
  • Yoda and the Force
  • Imperial Starfleet Deployed/City in the Clouds
  • Lando's Palace
  • Betrayal at Bespin
  • Deal With the Dark Lord
  • Carbon Freeze / Darth Vader's Trap / Departure of Boba Fett
  • The Clash of Lightsabers

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

  • Main Title/Approaching the Death Star/Tatooine Rendezvous
  • The Droids are Captured
  • Bounty for a Wookiee
  • Han Solo Returns
  • Luke Confronts Jabba/Den of the Rancor/Sarlacc Sentence
  • The Pit of Carkoon/Sail Barge Assault
  • The Emperor Arrives/The Death of Yoda/Obi-Wan's Revelation
  • Alliance Assembly
  • Shuttle Tydirium Approaches Endor
  • Speeder Bike Chase/Land of the Ewoks
  • Jabba's Baroque Recital (Source Music)
  • Jedi Rocks (Source Music)
  • Parade of the Ewoks
  • Luke and Leia
  • Brother and Sister/Father and Son/The Fleet Enters Hyperspace/Heroic Ewok
  • The Emperor's Theme
  • The Battle of Endor I (Into the Trap/Forest Ambush/Scout Walker Scramble/Prime Weapon Fires)
  • The Lightsaber/The Ewok Battle
  • The Battle of Endor II (Leia is Wounded/The Duel Begins/Overtaking the Bunker/The Dark Side Beckons/The Emperor's Death)
  • The Battle of Endor III (Superstructure Chase/Darth Vader's Death/The Main Reactor)
  • Leia's News/Light of the Force
  • Victory Celebration/End Title
  • Ewok Feast/Part of the Tribe (Source Music)
  • The Forest Battle (Concert Suite)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

  • Star Wars Main Title and the Arrival at Naboo
  • Duel of the Fates
  • Anakin's Theme
  • Jar Jar's Introduction and the Swim to Otoh Gunga
  • The Sith Spacecraft and the Droid Battle
  • The Trip to the Naboo Temple and the Audience with Boss Nass
  • The Arrival at Tatooine and the Flag Parade
  • He is the Chosen One
  • Anakin Defeats Sebulba
  • Passage Through the Planet Core
  • Watto's Deal and Kids at Play
  • Panaka and the Queen's Protectors
  • Queen Amidala and the Naboo Palace
  • The Droid Invasion and the Appearance of Darth Maul
  • Qui-Gon's Noble End
  • The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon's Funeral
  • Augie's Great Municipal Band and End Credits

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

  • Star Wars Main Title and Ambush on Coruscant
  • Across the Stars (Love Theme from "Attack of the Clones")
  • Zam the Assassin and the Chase Through Coruscant
  • Yoda and the Younglings
  • Departing Coruscant
  • Anakin and Padmé
  • Jango's Escape
  • The Meadow Picnic
  • Bounty Hunter's Pursuit
  • Return to Tatooine
  • The Tusken Camp and the Homestead
  • Love Pledge and the Arena
  • Confrontation with Count Dooku and Finale

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

  • Star Wars Main Title and the Revenge of the Sith
  • Anakin's Dream
  • Battle of the Heroes
  • Anakin's Betrayal
  • General Grievous
  • Palpatine's Teachings
  • Grievous and the Droids
  • Padmé's Ruminations
  • Anakin vs. Obi-Wan
  • Anakin's Dark Deeds
  • Enter Lord Vader
  • The Immolation Scene
  • Grievous Speaks to Lord Sidious
  • The Birth of the Twins and Padmé's Destiny
  • A New Hope and End Credits

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

  • Main Title and The Attack on the Jakku Village
  • The Scavenger
  • I Can Fly Anything
  • Rey Meets BB-8
  • Follow Me
  • Rey's Theme
  • The Falcon
  • That Girl with the Staff
  • The Rathtars!
  • Finn's Confession
  • Maz's Counsel
  • The Starkiller
  • Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle
  • The Abduction
  • Han and Leia
  • March of the Resistance
  • Snoke
  • On the Inside
  • Torn Apart
  • The Ways of the Force
  • Scherzo for X-Wings
  • Farewell and The Trip
  • The Jedi Steps and Finale

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

  • Main Title and Escape
  • Ahch-To Island
  • Revisiting Snoke
  • The Supremacy
  • Fun With Finn and Rose
  • Old Friends
  • The Rebellion Is Reborn
  • Lesson One
  • Canto Bight
  • Who Are You?
  • The Fathiers
  • The Cave
  • The Sacred Jedi Texts
  • A New Alliance
  • "Chrome Dome"
  • The Battle of Crait
  • The Spark
  • The Last Jedi
  • Peace and Purpose
  • Finale

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

  • The Adventures of Han[2]

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

  • Galaxy's Edge[3]

Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Williams composed the score for Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker.[4]

He also appeared in the film as Oma Tres.

Awards[edit | edit source]

Academy Awards[edit | edit source]

Williams (with Jonathan Tunick, winner for Best Score Adaptation-A Little Night Music) holding his Oscar for Best Original Score

Year Project Category Result
1977 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope[5] Best Original Score Won
1980 Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back[5] Best Original Score Nominated
1983 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi[5] Best Original Score Nominated

BAFTA Awards[edit | edit source]

Year Project Category Result
1978 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope[6] Original Film Music Won
1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back[6] Original Film Music Won

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 SWYTlogo.png Battlefront II Updates, A Look Into Poe Dameron's Past, and More! on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  2. Burlingame, Jon (2017-12-30). 'Solo' Locks In Key 'Star Wars' Veteran (EXCLUSIVE). Variety. Archived from the original on August 2, 2020. Retrieved on December 30, 2017.
  3. YouTube.png John Williams - Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Symphonic Suite (Audio Only) on the DisneyMusicVEVO YouTube channel (backup link)
  4. Hood, Cooper (2018-01-11). Star Wars 9: John Williams Confirmed To Write Score. Screen Rant. Archived from the original on February 10, 2019. Retrieved on January 11, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Awards. The John Williams Web Pages (2006-06-05). Archived from the original on June 10, 2002. Retrieved on October 9, 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 BAFTA Awards Search (John Williams). British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved on October 9, 2013.

External links[edit | edit source]

Real-world music
Soundtracks
Saga:
I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX
Original Soundtrack Anthology · Ultimate Vinyl Collection
Ultimate Soundtrack Edition · Ultimate Digital Collection
Spin-off films & TV:
Ewoks · The Clone Wars movie, seasons 1–6, Season Seven: Episodes 1–4, Episodes 5–8, Episodes 9–12 · Rebels Season One & Season Two · Rogue One · Solo · The Mandalorian (Chapter 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8)
Video games:
Shadows of the Empire · Republic Commando · The Old Republic
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Oga's Cantina: R3X's Playlist 1
Composers
Clint Bajakian · Peter Bernstein · Paul Dinletir · Michael Giacchino · Patrick Gleeson · Ludwig Göransson · Mark Griskey
Jesse Harlin · Jerry Hey · Chris Hülsbeck · Dean Kiner · Kevin Kiner · Sean Kiner · Frank Klepacki · Joel McNeely
Lin-Manuel Miranda · John Powell · Ryan Shore · Jeremy Soule · James L. Venable · John Williams · Joseph Williams
Performers
London Symphony Orchestra · London Voices
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra · Royal Scottish National Orchestra
New London Children's Choir · Seattle Sinfonia Orchestra
Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra · Los Angeles Master Chorale · Kathleen Battle
Vienna Philharmonic · Hamburger Symphoniker · Jefferson Starship · The Hu
Sheet music books
The Phantom Menace · Attack of the Clones · Revenge of the Sith
Music from the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition · Selections from Star Wars
Star Wars: A Musical Journey: Episodes I-VI · Star Wars Episodes I, II & III Instrumental Solos
Star Wars for Beginning Piano Solo · The Force Awakens · Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Music videos
"Lapti Nek": The Music Video from Jabba's Palace · The Duel of the Fates · A Hero Falls
Other
Bantha Music · Christmas in the Stars
Special Extended Dance Remix of Lapti Nek from the Original Soundtrack Recording of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Tusken Music · Headspace
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