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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 2000 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
John Williams' first film score to capture the imagination of the public, and the first hit movie score of the 1970s not to involve a love theme (à la Love Story), Jaws has been on CD for more than a decade, but this is the first release that really does it justice. The centerpiece of the music is the bump-bump-bump-bump theme associated with the movements (usually unseen) of the shark, which became so well known that it was used as an essential part of various comedy sketches in a multitude of media at the time (Williams himself quoted it comically in his scoring for Steven Spielberg's 1941). It does reappear in numerous forms (many of them veiled) throughout the score, along with a handful of additional memorable musical phrases associated with Williams' score, many involving the hunt for the shark. The anniversary edition of the score not only features the familiar portions of the original album, which didn't amount to 40 minutes of music, but 15 minutes or more of Williams' score from the actual film, and also music that was written and recorded for the movie but dropped from it. Little is totally unfamiliar, but the 24-bit remastering off of the original tapes adds fresh luster to the recording and the music. It's doubly interesting, hearing the music uncut and remastered, to realize anew just how many of the effects that turn up at key points in this score Williams reused in his music for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and other scores of his. This was not only where Williams' career as a superstar soundtrack composer began but also where he first started using the musical attributes that would identify that phase of his career. © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1990 | Sony Music Media

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
3 stars out of 5 - "[I]f Williams is to be granted a tribute, this is full-on and fitting." © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released October 27, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Film Soundtracks - Released October 30, 2001 | Atlantic Records

As a fan of J.K. Rowling's massively popular Harry Potter books and the composer of some of the best fantasy/sci-fi film scores, John Williams was a natural choice to write the music for Chris Columbus' film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. His score captures the childhood mischief, magic, and adventure of the film and the books, mixing winding, soaring melodies with instrumentation that spans the delicately spooky to the darkly majestic. However, his work here won't necessarily dispel Williams' reputation as an occasionally light-fingered composer: one of the score's main motifs, a light-as-a-cobweb celesta melody most clearly stated in "The Arrival of Baby Harry" and "Hedwig's Theme," recalls the work of both Danny Elfman and Tchaikovsky, while some of the other melodies sound like they're just a few notes away from themes in his own Hook and Star Wars scores. Harry Potter's score also tends to repeat these main themes a little too often; fortunately they're reinterpreted fairly creatively from piece to piece. "Harry's Wondrous World" and "Visit to the Zoo and Letters from Hogwarts" are sweeping and lighthearted, while "In the Devil's Snare and the Flying Keys," "The Chess Game," and "The Face of Voldemort" close the score with a trio of menacing, climactic musical cues. In between are pretty, delicate moments like "Fluffy's Harp" and whimsical pieces like "Christmas at Hogwarts," which manages to combine the festive, carol-esque melody with the atmosphere of a school for witches and wizards. The pomp and circumstance of "The Quidditch Match" is probably the score's most typically Williams composition; a thrilling mix of his heroic style and the rest of the music's spooky, supernatural feel. Not surprisingly, considering that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone runs nearly three hours long, Williams' score is on the long side, making it somewhat difficult to take in outside of the film's context. While it may not be one of his most inspired works, it's never less than perfectly appropriate and does include some brilliant moments. © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1977 | Walt Disney Records

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The 1977 release of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope exponentially changed the face of pop culture. Not since the mainland arrival of the Beatles had such an intense level of fanaticism possessed the American people. The film's rousing title sequence is as recognizable -- if not more so -- than the national anthem, and composer John Williams' Oscar-winning score is a marvel of pulp tension, Holst grandeur, and Wagner-inspired motifs. Never before had the general public been given such memorable, accessible, and instantly identifiable character themes. Williams develops these ideas masterfully at the soundtrack's beginning, allowing the lonely horn-driven "Jedi" theme, like Luke Skywalker himself, the time to grow, waiting patiently before unleashing it in full with the bombastic and ceremonial end piece "The Throne Room." Shadows of the composer's finest contribution, "Imperial March," can be heard brewing beneath the ominous cello section during "Imperial Attack." This is perhaps the most important thread on A New Hope, and charting its growth through to its full-blown Empire Strikes Back glory is fascinating. Williams is a true student of cinema, and his love for the works of Henry Mancini -- "Cantina Band," anyone? -- Miklos Rosa, and Bernard Herrmann are in full effect, but like George Lucas, who based his entire concept on old radio and television serials, the results are reverent without having been recycled. A New Hope was the beginning of a grand love affair with science fiction and mythology, and the world embraced every aspect of its astronomical rise to legend, but without Williams' exceptional contributions that affair may have been very short-lived. [In 2004 Sony Classical released double-disc collector's editions of episodes four through six in anticipation of the films' release on DVD. Remastered and sporting 3-D covers, each soundtrack includes the score in its entirety, a poster foldout, and screen savers depicting rare Japanese book covers. In some cases, alternate tracks and extended versions are included. For Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, the archival bonus track "Binary Sunset" is featured.] © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released December 18, 2019 | Walt Disney Records

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We all know married couples who have been together for decades that stand the test of time and remain the perfect match. Well, John Williams and Star Wars have been together for 42 years! Out of the twelve films of the series, only 2 were soundtracked by people other than Steven Spielberg’s favourite composer (he was replaced by Kevin Kiner for The Clone Wars in 2008 and by Michael Giacchino for 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). This rare sort of intimate relationship between a composer and their subject matter allows for a thorough use of leitmotif, a technique especially used in Star Wars. After so many years spent working with them, certain melodic phrases that characterise a particular person or decor eventually gain varying degrees of complexity and subtlety. This is the case with Rey’s Theme, which aficionados may or may not recognise in certain scenes of The Rise of Skywalker. For John Williams’ “ultimate contribution” to the Star Wars franchise, he has cleverly and covertly brought together all the themes associated with the main characters of the saga onto this soundtrack, from Leia to Yoda via Darth Vader. In some scenes, Williams’ attitude appears to be that of an old friend who is rejoicing at the prospect of going back to characters that you may have lost track of over the years. Case in point: Lando Calrissian (played by Billy Dee Williams and who appeared for the first time in Episode V in 1980) makes his return, to the sound of a particularly joyous melody. This kind of friendly nod to fans lends the film a certain kind of humanity, where many would have considered it the product of pure consumerism. Of course, the majestic (Destiny of a Jedi), epic (Battle of the Resistance) and lyrical (The Force is With You) atmosphere reigns supreme and defines the essential dynamic of this music so iconic in today’s pop culture. This ninth film of the saga is a finale of sorts for John Williams, but The Rise of Skywalker also presented him with an unexpected debut: at 87 years old, he appears for the first time in one of the films with a cameo as Oma Tres, the bartender on planet Kijimi! © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1980 | Walt Disney Records

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Here is an album that includes what are probably some of the most overplayed, overused themes in the history of film scores. However, if you can get past the familiarity and actually listen to what's there, you'll find another well-written score from John Williams. © Tavia Hobart /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released June 1, 1993 | Geffen*

When John Williams received his 29th Academy Award nomination for Schindler's List, he had already won Oscars for Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, Star Wars, and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. He had long been an automatic nominee, but as Hollywood's most honored working composer it was generally believed that it would take an extraordinary addition to his legacy for the Academy to award Williams a fifth trophy. Schindler's List would prove to be that extraordinary work -- and not just because of the enormous historical and social import of the film and it's subject, though those factors could only have strengthened Williams appeal to Academy voters. Schindler's List feels like his attempt at a magnum opus. Though even simpler in its melodies and themes than some of his famous sweeping popcorn movie scores, it carries the ambition of a major symphonic composition. This is especially true in the segments that are graced with exquisitely rich and evocative violin solos by world famous violinist Itzhak Perlman. Perlman's masterful performances give Williams' compositions an authenticity and grounding that offsets the composer's predilection for sentimentality and bombast. "Restraint" was the word that appeared most frequently in discussions of Steven Spielberg's Holocaust epic. The critical consensus was that the director had managed to depict the horrors of the greatest tragedy in world history without giving in to his customary urges to tug transparently at the heart strings of his audiences. In truth, Spielberg was only able to exercise restraint through the first two and a half hours of the film; he ended up throwing it out the window in the maudlin conclusion. Williams, too, is guilty of indulging in emotional excess. Which isn't surprising when you consider that his music has always been one of Spielberg's most effective heart-tugging tools. Like the film itself, his score is best at its simplest, deriving its emotional power from the events it depicts and bearing in mind that audiences do not need help from filmmakers and composers in order to be emotionally affected by the Holocaust. © Evan Cater /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released December 18, 2015 | Walt Disney Records

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From the fanfare of the opening crawl to the abrupt cutaway zing of the closing credits, John Williams' soundtrack to The Force Awakens does not disappoint. Williams has always been an integral part of the Star Wars experience, as familiar as the movies themselves, comforting and nostalgic. The fan anticipation and legacy baggage that came with the seventh film in this iconic series was overwhelming, being the first new film since 2005's Revenge of the Sith and the direct sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi, yet the results are not crushed by outlandish pressure. For The Force Awakens, Williams began work in late 2014, before recording began in Los Angeles in June 2015 (the first time a Star Wars film score was not recorded at Abbey Road). He enlisted a freelance orchestra and, with the help of William Ross and Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, produced a 23-track journey connecting the past and the future of the Star Wars universe. Here, Williams combines the old and the new with expert subtlety, creating a lush experience that rewards repeat listens. Those familiar with his work on other big-budget sagas (Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones) will instantly recognize the blaring horns that propel the action, the stirring strings that intensify the tension, and the bombast that contribute to the excitement as much as the scenes portrayed on the screen. Fans young and old will recognize the famous themes from the original trilogy that are alluded to throughout the album: the Star Wars theme pops up in "The Rathtars!" and a glimmer of Luke Skywalker's "The Force Theme" can be heard during "Maz's Counsel." As the nostalgic centerpiece to the film, Han and Leia's touching romantic melody makes a return (one of Solo's other big loves gets a nod on "The Falcon"). Although Williams created new themes for villain Kylo Ren and for the new good guy group, the Resistance, one theme stands out as the best since The Phantom Menace's iconic "Duel of the Fates." The theme for Star Wars' new female protagonist, Rey is first introduced on "The Scavenger" before receiving the full treatment on "Rey's Theme" and being whisked off in grand fashion during "Farewell and the Trip." Mysterious and touching, it starts with a playful flute melody and celeste chimes before swelling with confident strings and full orchestration. Less heavy-handed than the rest of the score, this theme is the most memorable of the bunch, a perfect combination of strength and delicacy. As the saga continues (Disney scheduled a new Star Wars film each year until 2020), Williams proves himself an indelible part of the Star Wars universe. © Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released October 23, 2015 | Masterworks

The soundtrack to director Chris Columbus' 1990 monster hit Home Alone features the composing work of the legendary John Williams and continues the Christmas theme of the film with numerous yuletide carols. Williams' main title theme, known as "Somewhere in My Memory," is a typically sweeping affair that incorporates the childlike qualities of the film while suggesting Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." Elsewhere, a children's choir performs "O Holy Night," and the Drifters turn in a heartwarming version of "White Christmas." © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released November 2, 1999 | Sony Classical

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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 2002 | Geffen

The bulk of the soundtrack album to the caper film Catch Me If You Can is comprised of the score by John Williams, a frequent collaborator with the movie's director, Steven Spielberg. Though Spielberg writes in his brief sleeve note that Williams has "composed a score in the idiom of progressive jazz prevalent in the '50s and '60s," you're not going to confuse this with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, or Dave Brubeck. No one has such unreasonable expectations, of course. But the fact is that this is pretty standard whimsical suspense movie soundtrack music, with some sax solos providing jazzy colors. Breaking up the instrumental score are a handful of quality mid-20th century easy listening pop tunes (in their original versions): Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me," Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto's "The Girl from Ipanema," Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song," Judy Garland's "Embraceable You," and Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love." © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released May 4, 1999 | Walt Disney Records

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Classical - Released November 22, 2005 | Sony Classical

John Williams skillfully utilizes the formidable talents of renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and equally beloved violinist Itzhak Perlman to flesh out director Rob Marshall's celluloid rendering of the bestselling novel by Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha. Elegant and predictable, Williams sticks to the source, building grand Western themes off of traditional Japanese melodies with a heady mix of regional instrumentation (shakuhachi and koto) and cinematic know-how. This is the composer at his most refined and nuanced, providing a textbook example of professional composition that revels in its subject matter without ever intruding. © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1983 | Walt Disney Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released May 23, 2005 | Walt Disney Records

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Soundtracks - Released March 17, 2017 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released March 29, 2005 | Sony Classical

This double-disc compilation of John Williams' guitar favorites must appear, even to the uninitiated, as a commercial attempt by Sony to milk his catalog to the last possible sale. Without denigrating the guitarist's consummate skills or his usually satisfying achievements, his recordings for Columbia and Sony are repeatedly recycled in different packaging every few years, and likely will be reissued many more times. The Ultimate Guitar Collection could be changed to "penultimate," but even that is too definite a prediction of when this process will stop. That said, the album contains virtually every greatest hit that matters to guitar lovers, and is more than representative of Williams' wide-ranging work, from Baroque to Spanish classics and beyond. The selections are taken from his early, undated sessions for the LP, Echoes of London, and many other dated albums, from 1975's The Four Lute Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach, on through 2003's El Diablo Suelto. Most of the music is relaxing and pleasant, though some of the film themes from John Williams Plays the Movies disrupt the flow of fine solo playing, and are jarring for their bombastic orchestration and emotional insipidity. The sound quality varies substantially between the analog and digital recordings, and is sometimes too loud, even at a middle volume setting. © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released April 23, 2002 | Walt Disney Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released December 15, 2017 | Walt Disney Records

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When the first Star Wars film came out 40 years ago, film-maker George Lucas showed real nerve when he chose a strongly symphonic colour for the soundtrack, and picked out a composer who knew his classics (and his Wagner in particular). At the time, early electronic music was almost compulsory in science-fiction films. In 2017, the presence of John Williams in the opening credits of a Star Wars film doesn't have quite the same audacious feeling, and the thrill the audience feels when the prologue starts to roll derives mostly from the legendary status of both the music and its octogenarian writer. It has been asserted that in fact the real "last Jedi" in the film is John Williams! All the same, upon the release of this eighth episode, some voices have been raised (critic Michel Ciment's in particular) to insist that John Williams has served his time and that he should give way to a younger composer. But rather than getting bogged down in the question of "the age of the captain", we should look at the important thing: the score for this eighth work is very interesting. In particular, it shows up a fascinating dichotomy between the archetypal nature of the musical themes (very clearly illustrating a character or concept) and Williams's extremely subtle way of developing them, to say nothing of his indisputable skill with orchestration. Beyond the many epic pieces on this soundtrack, (The Battle of Crait, The Fathiers, etc.), special mention must go to the majestic Ahch-To Island, which sees a "retired" Luke Skywalker who wants to live out the rest of his days in peace and serenity. Moreover, listeners will be pleasantly surprised to find, nestled away within this remarkably written and well-controlled score, Canto Bight, a jazzy theme with a South American flavour (which at points pastiches Brazil), with a steel drum section! This is a piece which proves that John Williams is fully at ease with all musical genres and all orchestral colours. © NM / Qobuz

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John Williams in the magazine