John Williams is responsible for many, many memorable film soundtracks. Among them are the soundtracks to every single Star Wars movie and almost every Steven Spielberg film (the exceptions being his Made for TV Movies, The Color Purple and Twilight Zone: The Movie). In short, John Williams has made a career out of writing Awesome Music. Williams' contributions to the Harry Potter, Star Wars, Superman, and Indiana Jones films each have their own pages.
open/close all folders
For Steven Spielberg
- The main theme from Jaws. Spielberg reportedly assumed the unusually simple theme was a joke when Williams first presented it to him. But just try to forget it.
- His score for the final scenes of the film is worth mentioning; after the nerve-shredding climax, Williams, instead of another encore of the shark's theme, opts for a quiet, gentle version of the Orca's theme that is absolutely beautiful.
- "Man Against Beast" combines dramatic suspense with the heroic theme of the orca.
- E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial:
- The Flying Theme. It's particularly neat in how it times up with the bicycle flying "against" the moon; it's like you can hear the wheels turning. Spielberg stated himself that technical wizardry and special effects can get those bicycles to fly, but only upon John Williams' strings do the characters become truly airborne.
- "Escape/Chase/Goodbye" is some of John Williams finest work. The best part of the song is during the bicycle chase scene and the bombastic Theme Music Powerup when the bicycles start taking flight.
- Empire of the Sun:
- Christian Bale (at a very young age) singing "Suo Gan" (a Welsh lullaby), just as the Japanese Kamikaze pilots are about to take off for their mission. You'll cry at about the same moment the Japanese characters in the film start crying because of the sheer gallantry of it all.
- The sheer joy in this piece, "Exsultate Justi", as it plays in the end when Jim makes it back to the now-abandoned internment camp with virtually no hope in sight, but in spite (or because) of this, he still rides his bike around the inside of the buildings like the little kid that he is.
- The Jurassic Park Suite. Cue childhood nostalgia kicking in.
- When Spielberg asked John Williams to write the music for Schindler's List, Williams tried to beg off, saying "I'm not good enough for this." Spielberg's reply was simple, and quite true: "Anyone who is better is dead." (Itzhak Perlman performed the violin solo.)
- "The Flight to Neverland" from Hook, and the adventurous and majestic "Prologue".
- The entire soundtrack from Lincoln. Special mention must go to his variation of Lincoln's campaign song: "The Battle Cry of Freedom".
- John Williams returned to his jazz-influenced roots when he scored the music for Catch Me If You Can. Here's the main theme. Jazz at its finest.
- John Williams also played session piano for composer Henry Mancini and played the piano part to Mancini's famous theme from Peter Gunn. And here's the solid evidence.
- Music from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. One notable example would be the majestic and beautiful score that plays during the finale of the film.
- "Avner's Theme" (who says John Williams doesn't know guitar music?) from Munich, "Thoughts of Home" as well as the end credits music.
- Speaking of John Williams guitar music - ladies and gentlemen, the DreamWorks logo.
- "Where Dreams Are Born" as well as the theme song, "For Always" from A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Here's another version of "For Always".
- The main theme of The War of the Worlds. "The Intersection Scene" is far more epic than it sounds.
- Steven Spielberg's comedy 1941 was a critical and box-office failure but John Williams' march for it is probably one of his best ever! It's fun, bombastic, and patriotic at the same time. Spielberg even said it was his favorite march of Williams, even more than the Raiders' March! Practically every junior high and high school band learns this great piece of music.
- And what better way to end this section than with his music for the Amblin Entertainment logo? Which incidentally is heard on only three of the company's movies - Young Sherlock Holmes, The Color Purple (the only one directed by Spielberg, and ironically one of the very few Spielberg movies Williams didn't score) and The Money Pit. Even more ironically, it's available on the Amazing Stories soundtrack albums despite it never being heard on any of Amblin's TV shows.
- The Accidental Tourist features the rare Williams score that isn't derivative of other composers like Ligeti, Stravinsky, or Copland.
- The moving main theme from The Patriot.
- Much less well known, but just as awesome as all of the above, is the nine-minute piece from The Towering Inferno that accompanies Paul Newman and Steve McQueen rigging explosive charges to the burning skyscraper's water tanks. One of the greatest examples of music used for a rising tension/countdown effect. And here's the main title music.
- John Williams won his first Oscar for his adapted score for Fiddler on the Roof.
- John Williams had some opportunity to compose some Irish music with the Far and Away theme.
- "Devil's Dance" and "The Dance of the Witches" from The Witches of Eastwick. Shades of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, great orchestral Halloween music.
- We all know John Williams can compose music for virtually everything, but did you know that he also scored a Western film? (Even better, a John Wayne film?) Check out this rousing piece from ''The Cowboys''.
- On a related note, just watch this John Williams tribute. Corey Vidal combines lip-synching, video magic and a genius arrangement by four-man comedy/a cappella band Moosebutter for instant fame. (When Moosebutter released their own video version, they did it via Corey's Youtube account. Ascended Fanboy indeed!) Note that, despite the lyrics being about Star Wars, the song uses music from every film but Star Wars!
- "Olympic Fanfare and Theme", although he was not the original composer of the famous "bum bum, ba-du bum".
- The discordant, almost avant-garde theme music for The Time Tunnel, especially the longer version played over the closing credits.
- Heck, even his theme for the NBC Nightly News, "The Mission", is epic.
- A lesser-known score but one that Williams reportedly considers some of his best work: the haunting love theme from Jane Eyre (the 1970 TV film starring George C. Scott and Susannah York). The theme simultaneously evokes a Lonely Piano Piece and a soaringly beautiful romantic melody.
- The special medley arrangement of the awesome film music scores in this tribute to his fellow composers.