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Williams, John Towner (8th February 1932-Present)

He is a composer, conductor and musical arranger born in Floral Park, New York.  When he was 16 he moved to Los Angeles with his family and alongside studying at UCLA he took private composition lessons from Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, who also taught Jerry Goldsmith.

In 1952 he was drafted into the United States Air Force and there he arranged music and conducted for the Air Force bands.  After service he attended Julliard in New York to study piano.

He took a job as a jazz pianist and played with Henry Mancini on the Peter Gunn theme. He went on to act as a bandleader and arranger for Frankie Laine.

He returned to Los Angeles and started to work as an orchestrator in film studios with composers including Franz Waxman and Alfred Newman.

Early in his studio career he composed the themes to Time Tunnel and Lost in Space before moving onto films that included The Towering Inferno and the Poseidon Adventure.  After being approached by the director Steven Spielberg a collaboration on all but two of his films ensued and they included Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park.  George Lucas was a friend of Steven Spielberg and so he asked John Williams if he would do the scores for his Star Wars series of films which shot him to fame.

He has won five Academy Awards for the films E.T., Jaws, Star Wars, Schindler’s List and the arrangement for Fiddler on the Roof,  and he currently holds 52 nominations which is the second-most nominations after Walt Disney. He has also received 4 Golden Globes, 25 Grammy Awards, 7 BAFTA Awards, 2 Emmy Awards, an induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame and the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, a Kennedy Center Honor and a Classical Brit Award.

Alongside his film career he was the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra and was named Laureate Conductor of the Pops.

His other compositions include many concert pieces such as a symphony, a concerto for clarinet, a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma, a trumpet concerto and a sinfonietta for wind ensemble.

He announced his retirement from composing in 2019 after the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  In 2020 he was ivited to lead the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert of his music.

He is the father of the drummer Mark Towner Williams and the ex-Toto singer Joseph Williams.

Boston Pops Orchestra Recordings
Adolphe Adam
O Holy Night
Sony Classical SK 48232  (CD – Joy to the World)
Conductor – John Williams

Leroy Anderson
A Christmas Festival
Philips 416 287 – 2 (CD:  We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
Conductor – John Williams

Sony SK 48232 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – John Williams
Tanglewood Festival Chorus

Sleigh Ride
Sony Classical SK 48232 (CD – Joy to the World)
Conductor – John Williams