Visit the Inside Thirteen blog to watch the new opening of Great Performances featuring John Williams’ title theme, and read a recent interview with the Maestro on his new TV theme, Spielberg, and more. Williams’ composition premiered during the opening credits of Great Performances: King Lear on Wednesday, March 25 on PBS.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
David Horn: What was your approach to the Great Performances theme?
John Williams: Well, I love the opportunity to write a theme for Great Performances, and I’m grateful to [you] for this opportunity, whose idea I think it was to have an orchestra perform the theme of the program.
Certainly, all or most serious music lovers will feel very indebted to Great Performances. Television, broadly speaking, is a great gift to us and a great instrument, and we can hear presidents and prime ministers speak and be in their presence almost and see and watch and hear great artists perform.
Much on television we would hope we can improve in the fullness of time, perhaps we will see those improvements come along. But Great Performances has been unique in that it has allowed precious moments that have been captured on film in the past and coming up to the present to be distributed around the world for people to see.
You can hear and see Maria Callas sing, for example…A program series like we have in Great Performances…is a great gift to music lovers and the broader public. For me, the opportunity to do a new theme for the opening and closing of the program is a privilege and an honor and I have enjoyed writing what I’ve done for it. My feeling about it is that it basically should be a lyrical and celebratory piece. That is, that’s positive and promises something in the next hour that’s gonna be exciting and that may also have the service of a function of arresting our attention at the beginning, and calling us to the viewing site and hopefully people will learn it and make an association with it if we’ve been successful. [It’s] a lovely opportunity to frame musically and melodically the diverse repertoire that’s available in this program.