John Williams, Maestro of Movie Music, Turns 80

« previous episode | next episode »

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

In honor of composer and conductor John Williams’ 80th birthday today, our showdown featured a choice of suites from three of his most well-known contributions to the film score genre: the Star Wars trilogy, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. You chose the Suite from Star Wars and we played it today at 12 noon.

Check back with us in the run-up to the Academy Awards (Sunday, Feb. 26), as Williams is currently nominated for two more Best Original Score Oscars.


Comments [46]

Michael Sepanski from Springfield, NJ

John Williams is not a musical genius at all... just a very good copycat.

Feb. 09 2012 04:12 PM
BaldKuban from West New York, NJ

So how about playing some of the other high votechoices - after all, it IS his birthday, so not too much chance of too much JW on the air!

Feb. 08 2012 12:11 PM
Another Vicki from Douglaston,NY

I honestly believe movie scores will become the "concert music" of our time, still played by orchestras one hundred years from now. Bravo, Mr. Williams, your legacy is assured. Thank you for the beautiful music.

Feb. 08 2012 11:58 AM
Baldkuban from West New York, NJ

ET! Happy, upbeat, full of life and hope!

Feb. 08 2012 11:57 AM
Frank from Sydney, Australia from Sydney, Australia

Star Wars & Jaws . . . the man is a modern day Beethoven. An absolute musical genius.

Feb. 08 2012 11:46 AM
Fred P. from Rye

Star Wars, without a doubt... If I ever decide to create my own Country, the theme played while Princess Leia presents awards to Luke and Han in the throne room in the "first" film ("Episode Four") will be my national anthem.

Feb. 08 2012 11:46 AM
Andrew from New Jersey

John Williams is a musical Genius!! Right up there with mozart and beethoven. Star Wars all the way, even if the inspiration came from Holst's planets. Almost everyone in the world recognizes Darth Vader's theme and that says a lot.

Feb. 08 2012 11:43 AM
John Dixon from Old Greenwich, CT

Am I the only old coot who does not relish hearing movie music as part of WQXR's daily programming.
I sometimes listen to Movies on the Radio with some interest, but this music is written simply to accompany film -- has no real integrity.
I much prefer songs from musical movies, whether State Fair or The Yellow Submarine -- but they shouldn't be parts of WQXR's regular programming.

Feb. 08 2012 11:42 AM
Emi from CORONA NY


Feb. 08 2012 11:39 AM
Robert Cohen

John Williams a giant of film scores and other popular classical music. E.T. is a fine example of his work.

Feb. 08 2012 11:36 AM
Virginia from nyc

a very Happy Mr. Williams ... as a horn player you have to just love his work! I so love the use of the brass section in his works.

Feb. 08 2012 11:35 AM
Steve Bonime from Teaneck, NJ

Schindler's List is actually beautiful music (to me, at least). Why restrict everyone's choice to your chosen 3. That's the same mistake WQXR made its first year as a listener-sponsored station, with the Classical Countdown's limitation to WQXR-selected favorites. (Glad you abandoned that by popular demand.)

Feb. 08 2012 11:34 AM

Voted for Star Wars. Thanks WQXR for playing the Superman Theme. Also love the score for Harry Potter. Happy Birthday Mr. Williams!

Feb. 08 2012 11:33 AM
JimC from DC

Superman, hands down. Since it was not included, I will just celebrate John William's birthday by playing it here at home.

Feb. 08 2012 11:32 AM
Justin from NJ

Perrrhaaappps... one of the indications of a great artist's work is how inspiring it can be with a full orchestra, full marching band, on a brightly enthusiastic youngster's own instrument, or humming and burping and blurping all the parts in the shower!

Feb. 08 2012 11:30 AM
Gassed-out-farmer-from-PA from Gas fields of PA

How would YOU do this? Look at some silent film stock and hear a tune that would go along with it, or better yet, describe it? No doubt about it, John Williams has the gift, and I am a fan! Happy Birthday!

Feb. 08 2012 11:20 AM
Karen Ann from Morristown, NJ

This is a great way to determine the demographics of your audience -- Star Wars (hooray!) for those of us coming of age in the '70s, E.T. for those from the '80s, and Harry Potter for the "kids"!

Feb. 08 2012 11:19 AM
Carolann Nexon from Mendham, NJ

Happy birthday Mr.Williams! Love all this music and voted for Star Wars, but I'd really love to hear the music from "The Cowboys" sometime. That had some great sweaping evocations of the Wild West. Please WQXR?

Feb. 08 2012 11:18 AM
Cathy from Washington DC

I bought The Star Wars soundtrack when I was a teenager, and my friends made fun of me! The music energized me and so greatly complemented the action in the films, that it planted a seed of appreciation in me that blossomed into love for all kinds of classical and instrumental music.

Feb. 08 2012 11:14 AM
Tanya from Newton

Definitely Star Wars Trilogy in celebration of the new 3D release!

Feb. 08 2012 11:11 AM
Chris from Baltimore

I agree with some other comments that the Superman theme is fantastic. Out of the available choices - Star Wars, without a doubt. Why? They are being re-released in 3D in two days. What better way to get us ready for the show.

Feb. 08 2012 11:10 AM
John Goodwin from Demarest, NJ

Star wars and a reason why. Years ago friends took their two young boys to Central Park & heard
John Williams conducting Star Wars. They all loved it. Sadly the younger boy was killed in a bike/car
accident a few weeks later. Star Wars was played on the church organ at his funeral.

Feb. 08 2012 11:06 AM
DEFG from Cloverlawn Park, NJ

Please slip in a selection from the beautiful and power score of "Dracula" released in 1979.

My best to all this day.

Feb. 08 2012 10:58 AM
Sharon from New Jersey

Happy 80th Birthday!!! Does anyone know if there will be a television special honoring this amazing man - especially turning 80?

Feb. 08 2012 10:55 AM
veb from Newark, NJ

Hands down, Star Wars! Saw Star Wars Episode 4 the very first time it was released in the late 70's...sat in the first row of a packed theatre on Staten Island! The moment "...A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." rolled over our heads and the first few notes of Mr. Williams' now famous opening score crashed over us, I was hooked! it was the first time I actually bought the movie score album and played it incessantly. The happiest and healthiest of birthdays, Mr. Williams, and thank you for all the gorgeous music!

Feb. 08 2012 10:52 AM
Jude from North Jersey

Happy Birthday John Williams! He is the reason why I found this station and can appreciate the gorgeous music it plays. Thanks!

Feb. 08 2012 10:52 AM
CEB from NJ

Happy Birthday John Williams! Thank you for all of your beautiful music throughout the years.

Feb. 08 2012 10:50 AM
Donna Hittel

Love them all, but Harry Potter wins with me!

Feb. 08 2012 10:49 AM
Steven S. Stern from New York

My favorite movie music composer--so any of his movie scores would be great. In fact why not have a full program of his music!

Feb. 08 2012 10:49 AM
Jim from Cold Spring, NY

Close Encounters arguably his best score, but ET is right up there!

Feb. 08 2012 10:49 AM
Gabe from The Big Apple

What? No Indiana Jones?? C'mon!

Feb. 08 2012 10:47 AM
nils from pomona new jersey

Close encounters, among the three choices

Feb. 08 2012 10:41 AM
JAU from NJ

All good, but Superman is one of his best!

Feb. 08 2012 10:31 AM
rss from nyc

How about Seven Years in Tibet -- gorgeous score for underseen, not-so-hot movie? Or Stanley and Iris?

Feb. 08 2012 10:31 AM
Karen Smith from White Plains, New York

The score for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone wins "hands down" in my estimation. Truly a tour de force; a wonderful, inspiring score that sends my mind into a state of fantastic rapture every time I hear it!

Feb. 08 2012 10:14 AM
Jacqueline from Greenwich Village

Superman, please! And thanks for the tribute -- he certainly deserves it!

Feb. 08 2012 10:11 AM
Barbara from New York

Happy Birthday John Williams! Your music enhances every movie you score, and brings back fabulous memories and flashbacks every time we hear it!

Feb. 08 2012 10:11 AM

Superman was an amazing piece of music.

Feb. 08 2012 10:10 AM
Thom from New York, NY

First of all, Happy Birthday to John Williams. Your music makes all our birthdays so much better and happier. Thank you for THE REIVERS, JAWS, the six STAR WARS scores, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, SUPERMAN, the four INDIANA JONES scores, E.T.,SCHINDLER'S LIST, THE PATRIOT, and the next great classic film score WAR HORSE. Looking forward to the score for LINCOLN.

Feb. 08 2012 09:53 AM

Aw, no "Jurassic Park"? Maybe later?

Feb. 08 2012 09:52 AM
Sheldon from Woodmere

Williams has never composed anything I didn't like. The guy's a genius. It's amazing how popular movie scores have entered the genre of classical music. Though the 3 choices today are equally memorable, I'll go with Star Wars, my favorite of the three. Happy Birthday, John.

Feb. 08 2012 09:50 AM
Diane from South Plainfield

Love them all but I have to vote for Harry Potter!

Feb. 08 2012 09:48 AM

@Vicki to vote for the choices, click on one of the three blue bars in the voting module in the center of the page. Thanks for participating!

Feb. 08 2012 09:37 AM
Vicki Slockbower from Montvale,Nj

How do find the choices for the showdown at high noon so I can vote?

Feb. 08 2012 09:02 AM
sally kahan from nyc

I vote for Star Wars Thanks

Feb. 08 2012 09:02 AM
James from Algiers

Excuse me but where is "Superman"?? That is truly an unbeatable score!

Feb. 07 2012 10:22 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.