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What Composer Has the Greatest Influence on John Williams?


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#1 vwing

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 09:36 PM

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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#2 MSM

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 09:48 PM

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

#3 hornist

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 11:50 PM

- Einojuhani Rautavaara


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

#4 MSM

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:08 AM






- 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

#5 Morn

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 05:51 AM

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.
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#6 Sharky

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:16 AM

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

#7 Drax

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:22 AM

Krakavovic, Stonavalov, Shapparetti.

#8 TownerFan

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 09:05 AM

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.

#9 Stefancos

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:47 AM

I think Williams absorbed stylings from many classical composers,


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#10 Richard

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 02:05 PM

James Horner.

#11 MSM

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 07:57 PM

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.
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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.

#12 vwing

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 09:36 PM

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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#13 MSM

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 09:41 PM

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.

#14 vwing

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 10:11 PM

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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#15 Jarbas

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:15 PM

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).
"John Williams is capable of writing anything, from neo-Romantic to avant-garde. He also writes a better melody than anybody else writing film scores right now. There is an emotional depth to the thematic content; he doesn't just write good themes, he also comes up with amazingly complex harmonic structures to go with them." Royal S. Brown

#16 MSM

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:28 PM

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:

#17 Eric_JWFAN

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:17 PM

William Walton.

I made a video about it a few years ago. -------->
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#18 guest

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:19 PM

http://www.jwfan.com...c=17304&st=1600

Yeah we started the Hook / Grusin /Delerue temp track discussion in this thread.

#19 MSM

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:40 PM

William Walton.

I made a video about it a few years ago. -------->


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.

#20 Eric_JWFAN

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:51 PM


William Walton.

I made a video about it a few years ago. -------->


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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#21 Maglorfin

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 05:06 PM

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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#22 MSM

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 06:51 PM

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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