As one of the most popular composers ever, John Williams 90th birthday will be celebrated in fine style by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with a special concert at the stunning Symphony Hall featuring his greatest hits.
From Star Wars and Harry Potter via Jaws and ET, there can’t be anyone who doesn’t recognise the endless back catalogue of a true musical legend. Hailed as a movie score genius and rightly so, Williams has composed more than 20 hours of music for the Star Wars films alone.
He has worked with Stephen Spielberg on all but four of his blockbusters, first teaming up on The Sugarland Express in 1974. Since then his work has brought aliens and dinosaurs, adventurers and magicians to life, notching up five of the top ten Greatest Film Themes of All Time, according to a poll by BBC Music Magazine and RadioTimes. Hailed as a movie score genius and rightly so, Williams has composed more than 20 hours of music for the Star Wars films alone.
The world-renowned CBSO will pay homage to these evocative soundtracks at the Happy Birthday John Williams concert with an awesome 80-piece orchestra on Tuesday August 2, showcasing an outstanding career spanning seven decades.
Star Wars Main Theme: Famously played at the start of every theatrically released Star Wars film, as well as video games and mini-series; Williams explained that the piece represented the ideas of heroism and adventure.
Shark Theme from Jaws: Anyone who grew up in the 70s will instantly recognise the alternating pattern of two notes that set the tone for suspense music to come. This 1975 classic earned him his second Academy Award, and first for Original Score.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Main Theme: The most iconic sequence is known as the Five Tones, a simple musical phrase that is used in the film to converse with aliens. Originally Williams wanted to use a seven-note motif, but it’s believed Spielberg thought that was too long to act as a simple greeting.
Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark: Hear the opening of this rousing piece of music and you’ll instantly think of Harrison Ford battling baddies and escaping a giant boulder as it hurtles towards him. While it received an Oscar nomination for best original score, it was pipped to the post by Vangelis’s electro-synth Chariots of Fire.
Theme from Jurassic Park: This much-loved theme song appeared in Jurassic Park back in 1993 when stars Sam Neill and Laura Dern see the giant Brachiosaurus for the first time. Williams described it at the time as his attempt, “to capture the awesome beauty and sublimity of the dinosaurs in nature.”