#WilliamsWeek – Day 1

It’s #WilliamsWeek! Let’s celebrate the birthday of legendary composer John Williams with a quote from him and a piece of his music every day from today until February 8, the day in which the Maestro will turn 87.  We want to celebrate him on this special occasion both with his words and his music, something that continues to be a great source inspiration for many musicians, listeners and music lovers all around the world.

JohnWilliams_Portrait_FT_JUSTIN_FANTL
John Williams, 2012 (Portrait by Justin Fantl)

I think the contribution of music to film is something that is immeasurable and we really can’t quantify that. I think what we have discovered is that music and film can’t be separated. You could illustrate that by simply saying that in the silent film days, they really weren’t silent – we had a pianist or a violist or an organist playing some music so that the film was not ever truly silent.

And some films, like Star Wars, will have music almost entirely in them. If a film is two hours long you have two hours of music. In this case, there are some minutes without it but not very many. There are other films that may have only 15 minutes of music, yet those 15 minutes are essential to the emotional connection between the audience and the story.

I think it’s impossible ever to measure it, but music and film are sister arts that live together and depend on each other. As for why I’ve chosen this particular field, I would say initially for very practical reasons. But what’s more interesting to me is that because of this symbiotic relationship between music and film, we will continue to hear wonderful film music in the future. There will be young generations coming along, countlessly coupling audiovisuals together in imaginative ways. And we’re seeing it already.

You know, film music is only what, 70, 80 years old? It’s in its infancy still. Initially when I went into it, I played piano in studio orchestras for a lot of very distinguished composers, and it was a natural progression for me to go from playing the piano in their orchestras to orchestrating material and finally being invited to compose scores of my own. So my own working career in practical terms and in terms of proximity, because I’ve lived in Los Angeles, drew me, I suppose, inexorably towards working in film.

(Quote taken from “A Conversation with John Williams”, by Juliet Simon, BMI.com, 2015)

The music piece chosen for today is the “Suite from Jane Eyre“, a three-movement concert work derived from the original score composed by John Williams for the 1971 television adaptation based of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. The film was directed by Delbert Mann, starring Susannah York in the title role and George C. Scott as Count Edward Rochester The beautiful lyrical score won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Composition and is one of the Maestro’s own favorite from his large body of work. In this score, Williams poured his professed love for the English music repertoire by composers like Frederick Delius, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. In 1980, the Maestro reworked his original compositions into a three-movement concert suite that debuted during his first season as Principal Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. The suite was recorded in 1987 for the album Pops Britannia (alongside other classical compositions by British composers such as Delius, Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger and William Walton) and continues to be performed still to this day by Williams and other conductors in many concerts around the world. It features a lovely pastoral, minor-mode theme in the first movement, a brilliant scherzando in the second movement and one of his most gorgeous romantic love themes in the final one. Enjoy this beautiful performance by the Boston Pops conducted by the composer.