When we talk about the powerhouses of music, we think of The Beatles or Michael Jackson or Reba MacIntyre or Beyonce, among others. People who have multiple-decade careers, whose very touch seems to turn to gold, who sell records just walking down the street. Everyone knows their name.
So if I said, Guess which musician has won four Oscars, four Golden Globes, seven BAFTAs (the British equivalent of the Oscar), 25 Grammys, was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth even though he was born in Queens, and has had 52 Oscar nominations – second only to Walt Disney, who would you pick? Someone with a net worth of between $300 million and $50 billion, depending on how many assets you count?
Would you believe it’s composer John Williams?
Williams, who is 91 and still going strong, has a Master’s touch when it comes to composing music, and he’s written more film and television music than you realize. An alumni of the prestigious Juilliard School, Williams’ career has spanned more than six decades, and he’s written the scores for everything from the pilot of Gilligan’s Island and Lost in Space to Schindler’s List (his fifth Oscar for score). Although he didn’t write the music or win the Oscars, Williams played piano for the score for Bernstein’s West Side Story. His scoring of Jerry Bock’s music for the film adaption of Fiddler on the Roof won him his first Oscar. That iconic Jaws DA-dunt, DA-dunt that scared everyone from the water, won him his second. Spielberg then recommended him to his buddy George Lucas, who needed a composer for the movie he was working on. Star Wars became Williams’s third Oscar, a soundtrack among the most widely recognized music in history, and remains the highest grossing non-popular music of all time (interactive fun fact: you can dance the Macarena perfectly to Darth Vader’s theme music. Go ahead. Try it.). Williams went back to Spielberg for his fourth Oscar – the soundtrack to E.T. Harry Potter? Yep, Williams wrote that. Superman? Home Alone? Jurassic Park? The Post? Sometimes, it seems as if a movie is destined for greatness if Williams writes the score.
March is Oscar month, and this year John Williams is the oldest Oscar nominee for the score to Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. So cheer for Williams on March 12, and in the meantime, check out one of his dozens of utterly amazing scores on the following films:
The BFG / Star Wars / Raiders of the Lost Ark / Schindler’s List / ET / Jaws / Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone /
Superman / Jurassic Park / Saving Private Ryan / Towering Inferno / Close Encounters / Hook / JFK /
Memoirs of a Geisha / Minority Report