John Williams is top of the classical charts

John Williams is top of the classical charts


norman lebrecht

September 08, 2020

The Hollywood composer’s DG album with the Vienna Philharmonic is #1 this week in the German classical charts.

Beethoven, this was supposed to be your year….



  • goulish Ghost of George S. Patton says:

    Germany is lost.
    Germany… get your act together and regain some respect, self-esteem and tradition.
    Or do you really want to go on being guilty for ever?

    • Death in June says:

      These are strange days for you, me, and Germany.

      These are strange days we find ourselves in.

      These are strange days for you, me, and Germany.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    There must be a lot of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg fans out there. If like me you do not care for their films, John Williams will probably mean nothing to you. I would much rather listen to Planets Suite by Holst than to hear Star Wars track.

  • RW2013 says:

    Every year is Beethoven year.

  • Alexander T says:

    I wasn’t aware that John Williams qualified as classical music.

  • SMH says:

    More people listen to John Williams than Beethoven: fact.

  • John McLaughlin Williams says:

    That’s just fine; Beethoven has a year every year. Good to focus on something else.

  • Wesley says:

    “Beethoven, this was supposed to be your year….”

    There’s a LAPO concert on YouTube where Dudamel salutes John Williams as “the Beethoven of our times”…

    • Tichy says:

      Actually he often referres to him as “the Mozart of our times”. But what does it matter, The Dude is one of SDs enemies of the state, too.

    • John Nemaric says:

      Next – the Dude will add the Boston Pops to his conducting…CV; the art of kissing behind the behinds.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    It’s not an either/or, though, is it?

    What ARE we going to do about these philistines who continue to listen to film music? And in a sacred shrine for classical music? Stop being such reactionaries.

  • Escamillo says:

    Most symphony orchestras give ‘popular’, ‘background’ and ‘movie music’ concerts these days or sell recordings of the stuff. Dumbing down keeps the cash flowing in while the musicians grin and bear it. It has ever been thus in one form or another; the young Johannes Brahms used to play the piano in brothels.

    • Matias says:

      I think I read somewhere that this Brahms fellow also found the time to write something called simfunnies.

    • John Nemaric says:

      …best place to play for the bros…Have you ever been in one with Brahms playing the piano? I bet no, you have not. May I suggest the “Smoking Fish” in La Lima, Honduras. It’s owned by one big banana companies anyway.

    • Rudiger says:

      Certainly not all of us are grinning.

  • Karl Keller says:

    Maybe John Williams is the Beethoven of our time?

  • marty says:

    Love the sound, love the design, love the details. Well deserved.
    This fantastic album reminds me of some great albums that Telarc made.
    More please.

    • Bone says:

      For many of my trombone students, the Kunzel/Cincy pops cds inspired them to investigate symphonic music (if for no other reason than to play bombastically loud).
      My hope is that a curious listener may explore other products released by either the label or the orchestra. Symphonic music simply has to consider means of generating a younger audience.

      • marty says:

        I firmly believe so.
        Many great Telarc CDs opened the door for me to the world of hardcore classical music.
        This great DG album will do the same for a lot of younger audience or those who are ‘afraid’ of classical music.

  • Gustavo says:

    Though, Anne-Sophie Mutter and John Williams did pay credit to Beethoven on their visit to Vienna.

  • Tichy says:

    Btw, John Williams was interviewed by Berlin Phils Sarah Willis (horn) about Beethoven in an, quote: “Interview of a lifetime”. The Berliners tried several times to invite John Williams to conduct them. Several. But Williams always said no. Whether it was out of respect for their tradition or because of the questionable part of the orchestra during the 2. WW, who knows.
    Anyhow, glad to listen to something different than Beethoven for now. Keeps him fresh 😉
    Also, Williams style and approach of composition is’nt that different. There, I said it.

  • Paganini says:

    It could be worse I suppose. It could have been Andrew-Lloyd Webber! Yes John Williams is really the bottom.

    David Hentschel’s soundtrack to Operation Daybreak – Cabin in the Woods, miles better. On an A.R.P synthesiser.

  • Arthur Miller says:

    Criticism is itself, of course, a precious part of great music, from composition to execution. So, 3 cheers for NL and all respondents. Personally, I’ve never been a great fan of the cinematic basis, I.e., The Star Wars, etc. movies, nor of JW’s scores. But I obviously recognize that countless millions do love them, and I do appreciate JW’s great talent as melodist, orchestrator, and his solid productivity over a very sizable career span. I’m in a mood to say that this recording strikes me as a fine one-off, non-serious collaboration. Nobody gets hurt, money is made, and we move upward and onward to Brahms 3rd Symphony, the stupendous Markevitch Tchaikovsky symphonies with the LSO, etc. I suppose I could be of a different mindset, and trash away. But for now, no problem. Isn’t it always a bit of fun to see crossovers. Horowitz allegedly loved Art Tatum and went to clubs to see and hear him. I’ve never been a jazz or Tatum fan.

    • Gustavo says:

      John Williams actually started as Jazz pianist / arranger.

      Today, his neo-romantic orchestral compositions for film are being rearranged for Jazz piano.

      I think we also need to acknowledge John Williams’ contribution to musical education. His music opened up our youthful ears to a kind of music which “grown-ups” wouldn’t have found suitable for children under 10.

      Soon we were listening to Richard Strauss, Wagner, Bruckner and eventually Mahler (because it “somehow sounded similar”).

      We then realised that there was not only “Programmmusik” on this planet and that music could stand on its own (e.g. Mahler’s 3rd minus Nietzsche).

      Good music works very well “without the distraction of the film” as John Williams has proven.