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John Williams: 5 things you probably don't know about the great film composer

Editorial Staff

By Michael Morreale

John Williams has written some of the most unforgettable film themes of our generation. His iconic music has famously lit up the silver screen in movies like Star Wars, Jaws and E.T. In an industry shifting away from large orchestral scores, John Williams is the last one standing among traditional film composers. In honour of his large collection of achievements, here's 5 things you didn't know about him:

1. He doesn’t own a computer.

In his small bungalow on the Universal Studio lot, John Williams composes using pencil and paper on a small writing desk next to his 90-year-old Steinway piano. He’s never owned a computer. Why not? He’s been too busy composing to ever learn how.

2. He’s really busy.

You probably could’ve guessed. He’s written over 120 film scores, a symphony, 12 concertos and numerous other symphonic and chamber works. He doesn’t let a day go by without writing something, and although his pace has slowed slightly, he shows no signs of ever stopping.

3. Only one person has more Academy Award nominations.

Walt Disney. Williams has received a near-record total of 47 Academy Award nominations, and he’s only won five.

4. He started as a jazz pianist.

You can hear him in Henry Mancini’s legendary 1958 Peter Gunn Theme playing the famous main riff.

5. He’s scored all but one of Steven Spielberg’s feature films.

The forty-year collaboration all started with a blind lunch date in 1972. Since then, they have had one of the most important film collaborations in history. Spielberg calls Williams a “chameleon of a composer,” because of his ability to match the tone of any theme or subject matter. Which Spielberg film did Williams not do? The Colour Purple was scored by Quincy Jones.