John Williams (b. 1932) is perhaps the most famous and accomplished composer alive today. Even Wikipedia’s extremely dry introduction to his biography can’t dull the luster of his career:
John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. In a career that spans six decades, Williams has composed many of the most famous film scores in Hollywood history, including Star Wars, Superman, Home Alone, the first three Harry Potter movies and all but two of Steven Spielberg’s feature films including the Indiana Jones series, Schindler’s List, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Jaws. He also composed the soundtrack for the hit 1960s television series Lost in Space as well as the fanfare of the DreamWorks Pictures’ logo.Williams has composed theme music for four Olympic Games, the NBC Nightly News, the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, and numerous television series and concert pieces. He served as the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980 to 1993, and is now the orchestra’s laureate conductor.Williams has been nominated for 45 Academy Awards and won five. He has also won four Golden Globe Awards, seven BAFTA Awards and 21 Grammy Awards. With 45 Academy Award nominations, Williams is, together with composer Alfred Newman, the second most nominated person after Walt Disney. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.
A John Williams fan website (better than the official one!)
John Williams on the Internet Movie Database – easily the most colorful biography of him.
The movie Schindler’s List tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a Czech businessman and member of the Nazi party. At the beginning of World War II in 1939, he opens a factory in Poland at which he uses Jewish workers because they are cheaper than non-Jewish Poles. After witnessing Nazi atrocities against Jews, he resolves to save as many Jews as he can by creating a list of essential workers. The people on his list thereby avoid being shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp. All this Schindler accomplishes at immense personal expense. He is remembered today as a hero who saved over 1100 lives.
Williams’s theme for the film captures all the drama and melancholy of the story. It was originally recorded with violinist Itzhak Perlman as the featured soloist.
Here is the theme, identical to our version in form, with a montage of scenes from the movie (unfortunately embedding is disabled so you’ll just have to follow the link – it’s worth it!)
And now a servicable band version with flute soloist, identical to what we are playing: