Washingon DC will host John Williams’s 90th birthday

Washingon DC will host John Williams’s 90th birthday


norman lebrecht

January 13, 2022

The Kennedy Center and National Symphony Orchestra are putting on the official celebration of John Williams’s 90th birthday with a three-day festival in June.

pecial guests will include Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Spielberg and Anne-Sophie Mutter.

The 90th Birthday Gala Concert on June 23 will raise funds for the NSO’s new endowment for music education.


  • Peter San Diego says:

    Great to see the proceeds being devoted to music education!

  • MacroV says:

    I hope there will be a concert with the Marine Band; they have had a productive relationship with John Williams over the past 20 years.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Gag me now. Enough already.

  • dalet says:

    What other living composer’s birthday was feted by Berlin, Vienna, Washington, LA… with simultaneous dueling DG recordings?

    Not even Boulez.

    Perhaps they’ll rename the various recently named Boulez halls after Williams. It’d only be fitting of the ethos of our times: non-perpetual naming rights, the prevalence of cancel culture, pop culture over elite culture…

    What is undeniable is this: Williams generates far more revenues for orchestras, if just by the ubiquitous annual “movie nights” at orchestras, than Boulez ever did and ever will.

    In the near future, Williams excerpts will be on all audition play lists.

    • Gustavo says:

      Not Birtwistle.

    • Monsoon says:

      IIRC, The Cleveland Orchestra planned to have him conduct a month’s worth of concerts for his 90th birthday, but those plans were upended when his health declined and he was no longer able to conduct. And I think they commissioned a few pieces in his honor.

  • I notice that Anne-Sophie Mutter has some close American connections with her work with Lambert Orkis since 1988 (they received a Grammy in 2000) and her DGG recording of violin works with John Williams. I think of the irony that in her home city, Munich, Sergiu Celibidache treated her so badly she walked out of rehearsals with the Munich Phil and cancelled her performance. In an interview in El Pais, Celibidache then named her a “violin-playing hen.”

    • Gustavo says:

      Andrew Preview came to the rescue, introducing her to John Williams who first refused but eventually gave in to compose his second violin concerto.

      It remains a chicken-or-egg causality dilemma.

    • Tamino says:

      You really had to somehow bring Celi into this? LOL.
      What‘s the relevance of your post?

    • Zzzz William says:

      Poor William. He has to grasp at every straw to find a way to relate anything and everything to his wife’s experience with Celibidache. If only the old maestro had left out the part about her being a woman, and focused on her blatty trombone sound, we’d never have heard from her (or William, who rides on her short coattails) again.

  • Gustavo says:

    So can we expect a clarinet concerto dedicated to and performed by Spielberg?

  • Concerned Opera Buff says:

    Fantastic composer and musician. I wished he could have done something in opera.

  • Spellchecker says:

    Is this a tour? Who is putting the Washingon?

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I think it’s worth sharing that David Hurwitz is doing a sub-series on film score composers on his Youtube channel. No John Williams! Not because J.W. isn’t ‘good’, but because there were numerous very good film score composers long before John Williams: Franz Waxman, E.W. Korngold, George Antheil, Max Steiner, Bernard Hermann, Malcom Arnold, Miklos Rozsa, William Alwyn, Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, etc. If you’re not familiar with these composers, I suggest you check out David’s series.