Jump to content

John Williams' Role Model


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 42
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Haydn, first and foremost,- his favorite composer!

I would also say Robert Graves, one of Williams' favorite poets and writers, and a close spiritual cousin of Williams, meaning his poetic project is similar to Williams'.

I think Elgar and also more peripherally Vaughan Williams, Walton and the entire British tradition.

Herrmann has become more of an inspiration later in life for Williams, while early in life he was more of a mentor, a colleague and a friend. But Herrmann was an anglophile too, and he and Williams essentially belong to the same tradition, although Williams' scope is greater and encompasses a lot more.

I think for the young Williams, Henry Mancini was also a sort of role model, as far as the "Williams stage persona" is concerned. And certainly Alfred Newman, Miklos Rosza and Dmitri Tiomkin.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It might be just me but I think I've heard about Bernard Hermann being the go-to person for Williams more times than just about anyone,both in print and in his music.

I'll list some movies that Williams did the music for,in order from easiest to hardest in terms of scoping out Mr. Hermanns influence on Williams.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

WAY easy because Williams just totally lifted this From North by Northwest.Note for note.

Star Wars :Episode 4

Somewhat easy but again,in my mind,Williams found inspiration from NBNW.Hint-It happens in the end credits for Star Wars.

The Fury

Getting harder,but if you've read about this movie,you already know what I'm talking about.

Jaws

Hardest.If Bruce the shark wasn't in the water,he should have been taking a shower,if you know what I mean.

Good Luck.

:)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well if I recall correctly, both the Shark theme and the Shower Scene are very closely related to a classical piece whose title is escpaing my mind at the moment.

Dvorak's 9th.

... really? i dont see the resemblance. i'm sorry. :oops:

the shower scene is major 7 chords superimposed... how is that any ways related to the ninth?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well if I recall correctly, both the Shark theme and the Shower Scene are very closely related to a classical piece whose title is escpaing my mind at the moment.

Dvorak's 9th.

... really? i dont see the resemblance. i'm sorry. :oops:

the shower scene is major 7 chords superimposed... how is that any ways related to the ninth?

I was referring to the shark theme.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll list some movies that Williams did the music for,in order from easiest to hardest in terms of scoping out Mr. Hermanns influence on Williams.

Star Wars :Episode 4

Somewhat easy but again,in my mind,Williams found inspiration from NBNW.Hint-It happens in the end credits for Star Wars.

Isn't there actually a Psycho quote in Star Wars?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Isn't there actually a Psycho quote in Star Wars?

Williams claimed it was unintentional.

No Williams admitted he did it as a nod to Herrmann, plus it fit the scene. It's on one of the DVD's.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you sure? I'm quoting this from FSM's interview with Williams:

I did ask him one question that has been bothering people for years: Was he intentionally referencing Bernard Herrmann's "madness" theme from Psycho in Star Wars when Luke, Han and the gang emerge from under the floor of the Millennium Falcon just after they arrive on the Death Star. The answer: "No."
Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you sure? I'm quoting this from FSM's interview with Williams:
I did ask him one question that has been bothering people for years: Was he intentionally referencing Bernard Herrmann's "madness" theme from Psycho in Star Wars when Luke, Han and the gang emerge from under the floor of the Millennium Falcon just after they arrive on the Death Star. The answer: "No."

Now THAT is a new one on me,which now means I pick up Psycho on DVD ASAP!

See where I'm going with this Herrmann thing now?

:)

For that matter, what's with the Vertigo reference in The Phantom Menace? (High Council II)

TPM also had a lift from "....Last Crusade"-I forget exactly where but it was the Nazi Motif that was placed towards the end of the movie.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Talking about Williams' role models, it's almost inevitable to bring up some classical composers with whom JW surely has a deep connection. The late 19th/early 20th century classic symphonic repertoire is especially key to understand better John Williams' style as a composer. Be mindful that I'm not talking about direct quotes or literal homages that JW maybe did to the music of these composers, but to the general stylistic influence that a lot of them had in forming Williams' amazing musical personality.

First of all there are the great modern Russian composer: Sergej Prokofiev (he probably is JW's first and foremost role model, imho), Igor Stravinsky, Dimitri Shostakovich.

Then there are some British classical composers which surely influenced Williams' stylistic approach: William Walton, Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Great American classical composers too are important to JW: Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein are the most obvious.

And finally the historic Hollywood Golden Age film composers: E.W. Korngold, Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, Miklòs Ròzsa and Bernard Herrmann.

All these composers and their tradition surely have been (and still are) a great inspiration for John Williams. The great thing is that JW absorbed all these influences and succeeded to find his own unique voice and style.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 years later...

When Han, Chewie, Obi-Wan and Luke open the closet hidden in the floor there is this 3-note motif (punctuated by timpani) that some people refer to as the madness motif from Psycho. It's a stretch if you ask me.

But the I remember one review of The Terminal one someone claimed there is a Cape Fear theme in one of the cues. It's kind of true, but I don't think that was intentional.

Karol

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find the use of the word 'role model' a bit odd here, since that's usually applied to people who provide moral guidance and who lead by example in that regard (parents, celebrities etc.).

But inspirations and influences is another thing. I think many have been pointed out already; Maurizio, in particular, has a good list. As far as the British composers are concerned, Williams has himself expressed a particular affection for Peter Maxwell Davies, but I am quite unfamiliar with his work.

As far as Herrmann goes, his influence is particular heard in THE FURY and the theme from WITCHES OF EASTWICK, among other things. And some of his more dissonant 60's stuff (especially the sturm-und-drang brass material in LOST IN SPACE). But I wouldn't say it's particularly prevalent in Williams' work as a whole.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As I wrote several years ago, or in the case of this thread, a couple of pages ago: Haydn. And the poet Robert Graves, although the latter's at times turbulent personal life would suggest otherwise.

Beyond that, it is pertinent to mention the English "pastoral" tradition. As far as kinship with historical artistic outlooks, there is an affinity in Williams' work with the spirit of William Morris' Arts&Crafts movement, and with the general spirit of Classicism. Williams is a craftsman, not a romantic, yet he seems primarily poetically motivated in what he creates. His music is even-tempered, measured, and seems to suggest a nature content with quiet contemplation.

Herrmann and Prokofiev, though important branches in Williams' family tree, are spiritually very far removed.

It is Robert Graves' poetic mythology, and obsession with the core of poetic "truth" and origin ("The White Godess") that makes his artistic project such a seemingly endless source of inspiration to Williams. Indeed Williams is a sort of musical "mythologist", and I think this is really the core of his massive talents: What he writes, seems imbued with a timelessness; a timelessness of eloquence, surely (the ability to create something that seems inevitable), but also a timelessness of "originality", meaning whatever he writes, tends to be the "ideal" version of itself.

So again, Graves for the creative project. Haydn for the work-a-day, humble perfectionist, craftsman-like creative attitude and modus operandi.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It is Robert Graves' poetic mythology, and obsession with the core of poetic "truth" and origin ("The White Godess") that makes his artistic project such a seemingly endless source of inspiration to Williams. Indeed Williams is a sort of musical "mythologist", and I think this is really the core of his massive talents: What he writes, seems imbued with a timelessness; a timelessness of eloquence, surely (the ability to create something that seems inevitable), but also a timelessness of "originality", meaning whatever he writes, tends to be the "ideal" version of itself.

So again, Graves for the creative project. Haydn for the work-a-day, humble perfectionist, craftsman-like creative attitude and modus operandi.

Very interesting observations, Marcus. Thanks for sharing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...