John Williams: I wrote my best music at Tanglewood

Watch him on CBS Sunday Morning:

‘I’ve been coming here (to Tanglewood) 39 years this summer,’ he says.

There’s stuff from Anne-Sophie Mutter as well.

Apparently Andre Previn made the introduction.

 

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  • “There’s stuff from Anne-Sophie Mutter as well. Apparently Andre Previn made the introduction.”

    That’s a surprise. Everyone here in Hollywood just assumed it was Leonard Slatkin.

  • I don’t understand why some people talks about JW’s music as it was one of the pinnacles of western music. He certainly made an impact on film “music” by creating a film music style of writing that is easily recognisable as JW’s, and is excellent knowing what the image needs. His concert music is, on the other hand, old fashioned and bland. It is a music product that is loved in the USA, and I know that many of them will get angry with my words but please, remember you gave the world actual geniuses in concert music such as Ives and Adams. The world of music would not radically change without his concert pieces.

    • I’d listen to Williams any day of the week ahead of Adams. You’re playing fast and loose with the word genius there. Williams is definitely one.

    • “The world of music would not radically change without his concert pieces.”

      Would the world of music radically chance without the works of Ives or Adams (whom I adore)? It is not only a question of pure quality, but rather of inspiration and influence. If you ask, which *living* composer has brought the most people to understand, love and appreciate orchestral music, then the answer is pretty clear.
      So, that alone is a huge achievement and that is why he is respected so much amongst colleagues and music lovers.

      • With respect, in my experience he has brought people to appreciate soundtracks.

        Surely they are out there, but I haven’t met any John Williams lovers* who are interested in music that doesn’t have a movie to go with it.

        *(Yes, there are music lovers who also love soundtracks and John Williams. I’m talking about people who aren’t much interested in classical music but love the Harry Potter and Star Wars soundtracks. Their interest in that music hasn’t expanded to include other composers, even “cinematic” ones like Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov.)

        • “Their interest in that music hasn’t expanded to include other composers, even “cinematic” ones like Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov.)”

          Again: What are you talking about? I can look back at my childhood and directly credit Williams’ soundtracks (and some of Horner’s, and others) with inspiring/leading to my love of classical music. Film music is often a sort of gateway drug to more classical music; this is my experience as well as that of many young people I know who are currently pursuing classical music careers. I can’t tell you how many players I have run into who say that their love of classical music can be traced back to when they heard the STAR WARS scores. Or do we all not count?

          So, I really don’t understand what you mean, with this notion that people who like Williams’ scores don’t like classical music. Heck, go take a look at the “JWFAN” forums—probably the biggest Williams fan community online—and there are plenty of threads devoted to classical music, to favorite classical works, recent classical discoveries, etc.

          Basically, I take issue with your statement “I haven’t met any John Williams lovers* who are interested in music that doesn’t have a movie to go with it.” It is simply (easily) demonstrably false.

          • Billy: there’s a reason why I said “surely they are out there.”

            If you read what I wrote, I didn’t say it doesn’t happen [that people move from a love of soundtracks to a love of classical music] or that people like you [who have done so] don’t exist — I only said I hadn’t met any. That’s not the same thing.

            Gosh, you sure put a lot of words in my mouth.

    • “His concert music is, on the other hand, old fashioned and bland. It is a music product that is loved in the USA…”

      I’ve never heard of his concert music being performed in the US, after its premiere at least.

    • “The world of music would not radically change without his concert pieces.”

      And…? Even if that were so, who cares? Why must it be traditional “concert music”, in order to be worth being played? Opera preludes/overtures and ballet suites are heard on the concert stage all the time. And yet at one point in history not long ago, people not unlike yourself were averse to *that* stuff being heard alongside “concert music”, as well.

      Love it or hate it, film as a genre is part of the lineage; Korngold was wise enough/ahead of his time to see it, but many of his more regressive peers shunned and rejected him. Eventually, orchestra concerts featuring a Williams main theme or a suite of music from one of his films will be as commonplace as orchestra concerts featuring a Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven or Verdi overture, or a suite from one of Tchaikovsky’s ballets or Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”. It is only natural, but people are resistant to change as they have always been. History repeats itself.

  • Norman, thank you for posting this wonderful profile of a legend. I don’t understand the bitterness here towards anything positive and also your attitude towards Anne-Sophie Mutter.

    • Well there’s a bit halfway through first movement of Mahler VII which sounds like “Flintstones, meet the flintstones….”

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