John Williams

You don’t have to be a classical music lover to be able to identify famous music masterpieces. Sometimes all you have to do is go to the movies (or watch Bugs Bunny cartoons).   It is the outlet that exposes the majority of the population to this genre of music.
In my lifetime I don’t think there will be any greater composer of film scores than John Williams.  

I was lucky enough to be able to see him conduct the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra last Saturday night.  The concert was so popular that it sold out within 4 hours of tickets going on sale. Yeah…..I missed the boat and didn’t get a ticket.  Its not like you can go and find classical music ticket scalpers that easy.

Friday, one hour before the box office closed, I saw a post on facebook that 30 seats had been released and were available til 5pm.  I crossed my fingers and dialed the phone.  Success! !  I got a seat in the 2nd row.  That’s a lot closer than I’m used to sitting.  It feels like you are sitting at the feet of the musicians.  However I think it was a better deal that I missed out and got in on the extra sale because I figure I probably would have been in the balcony so far back that you cant see a thing and it feels like you’re just listening to loud music.  So sitting I the 2nd row was a blessing in disguise.  I could really see him conducting and commanding the notes to flow from the instruments the way that he wanted them to.

Its hard to pick a popular movie without John Williams putting his musical mark on it.   According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, John Williams wrote the film scores for all but one of Steven Spielberg’s movies.  How exclusive !

The listing of songs, was not initially what I had thought it would be.  I was not complaining though as the number of film scores he wrote is more than I can count.  It must be difficult to decide what to play from city to city.   I made a list of movies that I have seen, but this is not even half of what he has done.  

  1. The Towering Inferno
  2. Jaws 1 & 2
  3. Star Wars  (all 6 and including the next in the series #7)
  4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  5. Superman
  6. All the Indiana Jones Movies
  7. E.T.
  8. Space Camp
  9. Hook
  10. Jurassic Park
  11. Schindler’s List
  12. Saving Private Ryan
  13. Fiddler on the Roof
  14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban
  15. Catch Me If You Can
  16. Lincoln
  17. The Book Thief

This is what Saturday’s line up actually contained. 

 

 

John Williams 1

Normally, during the concert I’ll watch my favorite musicians.  But this time I couldn’t see many of them so I just kept on watching John Williams.   He didn’t spend a lot of time talking to the audience, but when he did he had witty anecdotes such as when Steven Spielberg and he watched Schindler’s List together.  Williams said to Spielberg after a quiet moment alone that he deserved a better composer for such a compelling film.  Spielberg agreed…. and then added, that anyone better (than Williams) was dead. 

It’s different to hear film scores as opposed to going to hear a regular symphony.  My mind wanders all over at regular symphonic concerts.  I think that’s what makes classical music so appealing to me is because I can take a walk through my mind and day dream for 2 hours.  But with the film scores, my mind becomes the movie screen and once again I’m a little kid at the theater watching (and crying) through E.T. or I’m running along side Dr. Jones trying to escape the gigantic boulder.  

He came out for 2 encores.  First he played a song he composed called With Malice Towards None from the film Lincoln and it was at that time that he played his most popular themes- The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) and Indiana Jones.   It was fantastically amazing.  I’ve heard the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra play these before, but to hear it come from the man whose mind created these songs was indescribable.  

I will not soon forget this concert.  It’s hard to say it tops seeing Itzhak Perlman play, or hearing my favorite symphony “The Rite of Spring” live because those experiences are all so different compared to going specifically to see a composer conducting.  All I know is that I haven’t stopped talking about it since that night.  

What I didn’t expect was to see the Stage Door outside barricaded.  There were dozens of fans, and more arriving as I was leaving, standing outside waiting to see him.  Most were holding Star Wars memorabilia.  I tried to imagine if this is what it would have been like during Mozart’s time with people scrambling to get seats to see him.  

John Williams is 82 years old.  His full biography, discography and compositions can be found at this link.

 

 

John Williams 2

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