22 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Hollywood legend John Williams received his record 49th Academy Award® nomination for this quiet, introspective score to Brian Percival’s adaptation of Australian author Markus Zusak’s bittersweet WW2 fable. Working as he always has—“with a piano and a pencil,” Williams muses—the composer conjured a score dominated by elegant writing for piano, “because it seemed singular. It seemed personal and private.” But he’s quick to note it’s actually “two pianos sounding as one, something I’d never done before. Playing together, tracing each other, producing a sort of reverberance.” The choice mirrors what Williams calls the film’s double track. "We see this little girl who’s unable to read or write, and what she shows us is that one can achieve solace and immortality through letters: the word, writing. The other track is the providential voice of Death, who seems to be a very embracing and warm person.” He admits he was seduced by “the idea of the solace that can be found in literature, something similar to what we as musicians feel we find in music. And music can be a lifetime obsession that's also a lifesaver, in the way that her life was saved by her passion for books.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Hollywood legend John Williams received his record 49th Academy Award® nomination for this quiet, introspective score to Brian Percival’s adaptation of Australian author Markus Zusak’s bittersweet WW2 fable. Working as he always has—“with a piano and a pencil,” Williams muses—the composer conjured a score dominated by elegant writing for piano, “because it seemed singular. It seemed personal and private.” But he’s quick to note it’s actually “two pianos sounding as one, something I’d never done before. Playing together, tracing each other, producing a sort of reverberance.” The choice mirrors what Williams calls the film’s double track. "We see this little girl who’s unable to read or write, and what she shows us is that one can achieve solace and immortality through letters: the word, writing. The other track is the providential voice of Death, who seems to be a very embracing and warm person.” He admits he was seduced by “the idea of the solace that can be found in literature, something similar to what we as musicians feel we find in music. And music can be a lifetime obsession that's also a lifesaver, in the way that her life was saved by her passion for books.”

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About John Williams

You can hum a John Williams theme the minute you leave the movie theater, and you'll probably still be humming it decades later. Case in point: It took just two menacing notes for the legendary New York–born composer to help launch the blockbuster era with his suspenseful score for Jaws—and kick off a subsequent decades-long partnership with its director, Steven Spielberg. But it was the majestic fanfare he penned for Star Wars two years later that really introduced his richly musical but instantly catchy style. Reviving the grandeur of classic Hollywood orchestras, Williams evoked wonder with an intensity to rival any mind-blowing visual effect, while also infusing all that slam-bang-pow onscreen action with surprisingly poignant emotion. He added the perfect swell of tear-inducing strings during E.T.'s indelible farewell scene, coaxed the exotic thrills of classic Saturday matinee serials with his swashbuckling cues for the Indiana Jones series, and engendered a palpable sense of play and adventure in the early Harry Potter films. While his influence still dominates today's superhero epics and intergalactic adventures, Williams has also tackled stories plucked from history's most harrowing chapters, bringing the appropriate gravitas to the unimaginable horror of the Holocaust (Schindler's List) or the political turmoil of the Civil War (Lincoln).

HOMETOWN
Flushing, NY
BORN
February 8, 1932

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