Review Written by Tony Watts
Even given the undeniable merits of the likes of Miklós Rózsa, Bernard Herrmann, Erich Korngold, Elmer Bernstein, Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Max Steiner and Henry Mancini in Hollywood’s golden age, in more recent times the undisputed master of film music has been the peerless John Williams, whose lengthy career has, to date, spanned more than six decades having begun in the early fifties. Showered with honours, including more than fifty Academy Award nominations (five awards), twenty-four Grammys, seven Baftas and five Golden Globes, his pre-eminence in his field is without question. The long partnership between Williams and director Steven Spielberg has lasted for more than thirty years proving enormously productive. All this coming from a man who, as a youngster, didn’t believe he could make a decent living from writing film music!
In addition to his work as a composer for the big screen, John Williams has written regularly for television and wrote the theme music for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000, Williams was in charge of the famous Boston Pops from 1980 to 1993 and remains the orchestra’s conductor laureate.
This new, beautifully-recorded CD, features the eighty-six piece London Symphony Orchestra (long closely associated with the composer and his music) conducted by Gavin Greenaway. It is in all but name, a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection of the world’s top film themes, and will appeal to both newcomer and devoted fan alike. Appropriately entitled A Life In Music, highlights include a dazzling performance of the iconic title music from Star Wars (named as the greatest American film score of all time by the American Film Institute), the menacing shark theme from Jaws (makes your flesh creep just to hear it) and the theme from Jurassic Park as well as classics from Superman, Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Hook, E.T., Saving Private Ryan and the first recording of the deeply-moving, meditative arrangement for cello and orchestra of the sombrely beautiful theme from Schindler’s List.
Certainly, there are other collections of John Williams’s film music available but, for the spectacular recorded sound ideally matching the character of the music and the calibre of the performances, this magnificent new Decca disc is definitely the one to have. Very highly recommended indeed.
Listen to John Willians: A Life In Music here via Classic fM Store, Spotify, Amazon Music, HMV and Google Play.
John Willians: A Life In Music
Decca CFMD 60
Running Time: 50 minutes
Release Date: 4 May, 2018
Tony Watts is a keen opera, concert, theatre and ballet-goer. He has spent most of his working life in the music industry, including a 16-year spell at Decca Records. He has compiled and produced over 1,000 re-issues on CD, LP and digital formats, and written notes for several hundred more. In addition to writing for a wide variety of musical books and publications, Tony has worked as a music consultant on films and on exhibitions for the V&A. Follow Tony now on Twitter: