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Jim Svedja of KUSC Classical Interviews John Williams on The Book Thief


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This might come a bit late in the game since the Academy Awards came and went already but Jim Svedja of KUSC Classical interviewed John Williams before the Oscars and here is the 30 minute talk they had.

Also on the same site are the interviews with other three of the five Oscar nominees of 2014 and of course all the older KUSC programmes, including previous year's Oscar nominee interviews.

John Williams is his humble and gracious self in the interview but what shines through very clearly during this talk is his truly deep appreciation for his colleagues, musicians and music itself. A fine listen. I am off to hear what Desplat, Price and Newman had to say! :)

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This might come a bit late in the game since the Academy Awards came and went already but Jim Svedja of KUSC Classical interviewed John Williams before the Oscars and here is the 30 minute talk they h

Jim Svedja is a wonderful host and is so familiar with Williams that he can ask some rather detailed questions about his music. But if anything this interview shows once again that Williams as a film

Toward the end of the interview, Williams mentions that he has been asked to write a piece to commemorate Tanglewood for the upcoming season and he intends to do it. A lot of possibilities for such a piece.

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Jim Svedja is a wonderful host and is so familiar with Williams that he can ask some rather detailed questions about his music. But if anything this interview shows once again that Williams as a film composer is not one to over-intellectualize his work. That is not to say that there is not a keen intellect behind it but his musical response seems to be more like that of the audience, gut-feeling that this or that aspect or character or moment of the story should have musical identification or weight to it without the composer going into a deep philosophical thought or conscious mental construction on the deeper musical messages he is trying to impart outside the immediate impact of the music for the scene. Philosophical ponderings or musings on life, literature and the saving grace of art might have initiated the thought behind the music combined with musico-dramatic problem solving but it doesn't necessarily mean that a composer drops philosophically infused bread crumbs of wisdom for the musically savvy to pick up every time he puts notes on paper. Composer's intention VS audience's insterpretation is an interesting phenomenon. Svedja's observation on the harmonic language and how uncomfortable or unsettling it might be in its underpinnings throughout the film seemed to take Williams a bit by surprise as it might not have been his intention or original meaning but again the art of music is open to interpretation, which is really wonderful about it.

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Hmmm...sounds like JW doesn't know that they're making episodes 8 and 9 for Star Wars? Or were they talking about Book Thief?

It was a really nice interview. I think Jim jumped contexts by going from Star Wars VII back to the Book Thief in terms of his sequel joke. I think Williams himself was not quite sure what he was talking about at that point.

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Hmmm...sounds like JW doesn't know that they're making episodes 8 and 9 for Star Wars? Or were they talking about Book Thief?

It was a really nice interview. I think Jim jumped contexts by going from Star Wars VII back to the Book Thief in terms of his sequel joke. I think Williams himself was not quite sure what he was talking about at that point.

I think he was talking about TITANIC at that point, as an example of a film that wouldn't get any sequel...like THE BOOK THIEF. But yeah, there was some confusion there.

Otherwise, I think Jim asks some great questions -- or rather makes some fine observations himself. Williams was surprisingly un-intellectual in this case. He's always been better at talking about his craft than, say, Jerry Goldsmith, but expressed himself in more general terms this time.

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