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vwing

What Composer Has the Greatest Influence on John Williams?

22 posts in this topic

In both the classical and film scoring worlds, which composer do you think has had the most impact on John Williams' own writing style? Williams himself has an eclectic mix of talents, being a classical pianist, jazz pianist, film composer, concert composer, and conductor, and in any one score, I can hear influence from tons of different composers.

Still, I was listening to Bartok today, and I think his voice seems to have rubbed off the most on the Maestro as far as orchestrations are concerned (thematically I think Williams owes more to early film composers and jazz men). Listen to Bartok's Concerto For Orchestra, and you'll hear the rousing horn work, the low string counterpoints, the offbeat woodwind writing, and plenty of other Williams staples, especially from his earlier works. Listen to Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, and you hear the melancholic, contrapuntal string writing Williams developed in his later scores. Obviously, Williams is usually more tonal than Bartok, owes a lot more to fanfares in a lot of his thematic material, but I think of all the composers I've heard, Bartok and Williams seem to share the most orchestrational sensibilities.

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There are many. It also has been discussed many times :)

Here are some according to the general consensus:

- Erich Wolfgang Korngold

- William Walton

- Sergei Prokofiev

- Bernard Herrmann

- Gustav Holst

- Edward Elgar

- Einojuhani Rautavaara

- Maurice Ravel

- Bela Bartok

- Igor Stravinsky

- Leonard Bernstein

- Jerry Goldsmith

- Pjotr I. Tschaikovsky

- Claude Debussy

- Miklos Rosza

- Alfred Newman

- Aaron Copland

- Howard Hanson

- Joseph Haydn

- Richard Wagner

- George Gershwin

- Ralph Vaughan Williams

- jazz music

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- Einojuhani Rautavaara

What is this? Is it CE3K or is there something else in Williams music inspired by Rautavaara?

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- Einojuhani Rautavaara

What is this? Is it CE3K or is there something else in Williams music inspired by Rautavaara?

I think CE3K but also other tracks e.g. Incident at Isla Nublar, WotW

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I think the most significant ones would be:

Prokofiev

Stravinsky

Alex North

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Alfred Newman

I think it's underestimated how much of an influence Alex North has been on both John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. They are incredibly similar composers who write in leitmotif, and use a mix of jazz, modernistic and neo-romantic styles.

Alex North:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMFlBqZ8vb0

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Herrmann, Barry, Goldsmith, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Xenakis, North, Penderecki, Wagner, Bartók, Respighi, Ligeti, Bruckner, Mahler, Walton, Korngold, Lutoslawski, Ives, Rosenman, Berg, and Vaughan Williams.

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We talked about this very recently. I think Williams absorbed stylings from many classical composers, so it would be an endless (and probably useless) list.

However, I think Sergej Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, William Walton and Edward Elgar are the closest models to Williams' musical sensibility. IMHO, of course.

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I think Williams absorbed stylings from many classical composers,

SaltCreature.jpg

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I think the most significant ones would be:

Prokofiev

Stravinsky

Alex North

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Alfred Newman

I think it's underestimated how much of an influence Alex North has been on both John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. They are incredibly similar composers who write in leitmotif, and use a mix of jazz, modernistic and neo-romantic styles.

Alex North:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMFlBqZ8vb0

Thanks for posting those nice cues. Alex North is classical Hollywood writing and I can see what you mean. The orchestrations are lush and might have had influence on JW, the problem with North's music is however the lack of major themes IMO, when you compare it to Bernstein, Tiomkin or Young for example.

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No one seems to mention Delerue as an influence, and I think he had to be (not just for the "Pan" theme either from Hook). Very similar thematic sensibilities, and I think if we're talking lush orchestrations, Delerue's are more Williams-like (or the other way around) than North's. I don't find Prokofiev or Stravinsky too similar in overall style (other than influences they've had in specific scores), while I do hear Bartok in his overall style.

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No one seems to mention Delerue as an influence, and I think he had to be (not just for the "Pan" theme either from Hook). Very similar thematic sensibilities, and I think if we're talking lush orchestrations, Delerue's are more Williams-like (or the other way around) than North's. I don't find Prokofiev or Stravinsky too similar in overall style (other than influences they've had in specific scores), while I do hear Bartok in his overall style.

I enlisted composers that have influenced JW also for particular tracks or scores. Please could you give some good Delerue examples? Very interested.

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For the Hook thing I was talking about, this is Delerue's Agnes of God, straight out of "You are the Pan."

The similarities of the tracks aside, I also think Delerue's lush string work is very similar to Williams' lush string work.

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For me, it could be a temp track for that Hook scene...not a Delerue influence!

I think the same about the similarities between Susan Speaks (The Patriot) and Deborah's Theme (Once Upon a Time in America).

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For the Hook thing I was talking about, this is Delerue's Agnes of God, straight out of "You are the Pan."

The similarities of the tracks aside, I also think Delerue's lush string work is very similar to Williams' lush string work.

Wow! :blink:

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William Walton.

I made a video about it a few years ago. --------> http://vimeo.com/719335

Eric, you made me a Walton fan with that vid :) You are totally right I think which is why I listed WW so high up my list.

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William Walton.

I made a video about it a few years ago. --------> http://vimeo.com/719335

Eric, you made me a Walton fan with that vid :) You are totally right I think which is why I listed WW so high up my list.

I noticed that. ;)

And I agree with your entire list. It's really hard to pick just one, as JW has obviously been influenced by so many composers in different ways. But if I had to pick one, Walton is always the first one that comes to mind.

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What about Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, JW's composition professor? Surely he must've inspired him in some way, although perhaps more his earlier efforts.

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What about Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, JW's composition professor? Surely he must've inspired him in some way, although perhaps more his earlier efforts.

True of course :)

Although I (as a violinst) know there's a violin concerto by him I msut admist I never heard a note of his music...so I wouldn't be able to tell if there are any stylistic similarities.

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