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[b11) John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is one of the most widely recognized composers of film scores. As of 2006, he has received 45 music-related Academy Award nominations, an accomplishment surpassed only by Walt Disney.
Williams is best known for heroic, rousing themes to adventure and fantasy films. This includes some of the highest grossing films of all time, such as Star Wars, Superman, Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and the first three Harry Potter movies. His richly thematic and highly popular 1977 score to the first Star Wars film was selected by the American Film Institute as the greatest American movie score of all time. Five of his film scores won Oscars.
His long career has also included many sensitive dramatic scores (such as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan) and more experimental concert works.
While skilled in a variety of 20th century compositional idioms, his most familiar style may be described as a form of neoromanticism, informed by the large-scale orchestral music of the late 19th century and that of Williams's film-composing predecessors. The influence of Korngold and other Hollywood Golden Age composers is strong in much of Williams' most famous work.
[b12) John Williams is a classical guitar player.
Born in Melbourne, Australia to an English father (Len Williams) and an Australian-Chinese mother, Williams was taught initially by his father. At the age of twelve he went to Italy to study under "The Maestro", Andrés Segovia. Later, he attended the Royal College of Music in London, studying piano because the school did not have a guitar department at the time. Upon graduation, he was offered the opportunity to create such a department. Being such a lover of the instrument, he seized the opportunity and ran it for the first two years. Williams has maintained links with the College (and with the Northern College in Manchester) ever since.
Williams is best known as a classical guitarist, but has explored many different musical traditions. He has collaborated with Julian Bream and Paco Peña and was a member of the fusion group Sky. He is also a composer and arranger.
Williams has commissioned guitar concertos from composers such as Stephen Dodgson, André Previn, Patrick Gowers, Richard Harvey and Steve Gray. He has also worked with composers from his native Australia, including Phillip Houghton, Peter Sculthorpe, Ross Edwards (composer) and Nigel Westlake, to produce guitar works that capture the spirit of his homeland.
He enjoyed a worldwide hit single with his recording of Cavatina by Stanley Myers, used as the theme tune to the Oscar-winning film The Deer Hunter (1979). The piece had originally been written for piano, for another film ten years earlier, The Walking Stick (1970) but re-written for guitar and expanded by Myers at Williams' invitation. In 1973, Cleo Laine wrote lyrics and recorded the song "He Was Beautiful" accompanied by John Williams. A year later, it was a top 5 UK hit single for Iris Williams (no relation).
At the invitation of producer Martin Lewis he created a highly acclaimed classical-rock fusion duet with celebrated rock guitarist Pete Townshend of Townshend's anthemic Won't Get Fooled Again for the 1979 Amnesty International benefit show The Secret Policeman's Ball. The duet was featured on the resulting album and the film version of the show - bringing Williams to the broader attention of the rock audience.
The relationship with Lewis led to Williams' classical-rock fusion band Sky being invited to give the first-ever rock concert to be held at Westminster Abbey - a benefit concert for Amnesty that Lewis produced in February 1981.
He is visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London.
Williams and his artist wife Kathy Panama reside in London and Australia.
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