In a career spanning more than six decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage, and he remains one of our nation’s most distinguished and contributive musical voices. He has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films, including all nine Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films, Superman, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Memoirs of a Geisha, Far and Away, The Accidental Tourist, Home Alone, and The Book Thief. His 50-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler’s List, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones films, Munich, Saving Private Ryan, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse, Lincoln, The BFG, The Post, and The Fabelmans. Williams’s contributions to television music include scores for more than 200 television films for the groundbreaking, early anthology series Alcoa Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, Chrysler Theatre, and Playhouse 90, as well as themes for NBC Nightly News (“The Mission”), NBC’s Meet the Press, and the PBS arts showcase Great Performances. He also composed themes for the 1984, 1988, and 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
John Williams has received five Academy Awards and fifty-three Oscar nominations, making him the Academy’s most nominated living person and the second-most nominated person in the history of the Oscars. He has received seven British Academy Awards (BAFTA), twenty-five Grammys, four Golden Globes, five Emmys, and numerous gold and platinum records. In 2003 his contributions to the Olympic movement were recognized when he received the Olympic Order (the IOC’s highest honor). He received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in December 2004. In 2009 Williams was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the US Government. In 2016 he received the 44th Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute — the first time that this honor was bestowed upon a composer. In 2020 he received Spain’s Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts as well as the Gold Medal from the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society in the UK, and in 2022 he was awarded an honorary knighthood of the British Empire as one of the final awards approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In January 1980 John Williams was named 19th music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, succeeding the legendary Arthur Fiedler. He currently holds the title of Boston Pops laureate conductor, which he assumed following his retirement in December 1993 after 14 highly successful seasons. He also holds the title of artist-in-residence at Tanglewood. Williams has composed numerous works for the concert stage, among them two symphonies, and concertos commissioned by several of the world’s leading orchestras, including a bassoon concerto for the New York Philharmonic (commissioned to mark the Orchestra’s 150th anniversary), a cello concerto for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a trumpet concerto for The Cleveland Orchestra, and a horn concerto for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2009 the Boston Symphony premiered his concerto for harp and orchestra titled On Willows and Birches, and he composed and arranged Air and Simple Gifts especially for the first inaugural ceremony of President Barack Obama. In 2021 Williams premiered his second violin concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood along with soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter, for whom he composed the work.