Inspire in absentia: Memoirs from London and Vienna

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The London Symphony Orchestra performing the concert “A Celebration of John Williams” at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday October 26th, 2018 (Photo by Christie Goodwin, courtesy of Royal Albert Hall)

As it was announced just a couple of days before the show, John Williams had to cancel his appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in London on October 26, 2018 due to a last-minute illness that unfortunately caught him upon his arrival in the UK’s capitol. The composer was set to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in a long-awaited concert featuring his beloved movie music in a career-spanning program. The event (which sold-out in a few hours after it was announced in February 2018) was tremendously anticipated by fans of John Williams all around the world–the concert would have been his first on the European soil after twenty years (his last concert happened indeed in London in 1998 with the LSO). Admirers from all corners of Europe and even from other continents booked flights, hotels and tickets to not miss the event. The orchestra, the Royal Albert Hall management and the composer himself were also anticipating with thrill what promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime evening. The occasion was all the more special because of the true “special relationship” between Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra and, as producer Mike Matessino wrote on the concert’s program notes, with the London music scene in general, a love affair that goes back since the late 1960s, when Williams ended up living and working in the city for several projects.

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Musical Accompaniment vs. Musical Enhancement

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In 2017, John Williams and Steven Spielberg collaborated on their 28th feature film together, The Post. The film recounts the story of the great cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents which pushed the first female newspaper publisher (Kathleen Graham) and the chief editor of the Washington Post (Ben Bradlee) to publish classifed top-secret files (known as the “Pentagon Papers”) that documented the involvement of the government in the Vietnam War, with an unprecedented battle between the press and the government that ensued later.

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