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Is Williams the best composer of the 20th Century?


Ross
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is JW the best composer of the 20th century  

49 members have voted

  1. 1.

    • Yes, absolutely! Any score, anytime, he ROCKS!!
      24
    • Yes, yes he is, but only when it comes to his good stuff
      10
    • Yeah, well he is but that's not saying much considering this century
      0
    • No: Prince is the Mozart of this century. Is JW Prince? I don't think so
      2
    • Nah, the guy is good and all but not the best
      12
    • What are you kidding me? Wash you ears!
      1


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I was listening to the radio the other day when a review of AOTC came out. I intently listened and was happy to see that the reporter, in essence, said: "the whole movie sucks, it's only thanks to John Williams' music that it ranks up higher than a regular action movie".

Then the guy proceeded to explain how John Williams was the best composer of the XXth Century, how a lot different people all around the world knows the tune to one of his scores. And, heck, if he makes us all human beings have one more thing in common, shouldn't he be given a certain credit, as a composer and humanitarian?

Do you agree? I hope I've covered all options, but of course, it's better to reply with a constructive opinion than just to vote, remember that.

-ROSS, who voted yes

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Nice poll!

This thread will be entirely opinion based, but that's what makes the world go 'round.

Anyway, I voted yes, because to me, there is not a better composer. Sure, I haven't heard many others, but with me being set in my ways with Mr. Williams, there can not be another.

~Harry

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The first reaction would be a firm no, but then you realize vague the question is, and then you realize how subjective (silly) these things are, and then you say, "Gee golly, who cares? We all love his music, and that's all that matters."

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True, it is vague. Are we judging based on only film works, or only non-film works, or as an all-around composer. Any way I look at it, he's the best to me.

~Harry

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I think that JW is the best composer of the twentieth century. He has taken a whole bunch of styles and has used them effectively, and he brought the full orchestral score back to movies in the '70s with Star Wars (obviously). He has inspired many composers and has written some of the most moving pieces ever. He rivals the old classical composers. Not only is his composing good, but his orchestrating and cunducting as well. He lets nothing slip by him in a recording session. He is by far the greatest living composer, if not the greatest ever.

~Conor

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IMHO that is not what makes John Williams great, some people would argue your point that if that is the case then Williams is not an original because he only is using his influences to write his music. John Williams is my favorite composer and he has written many original "themes" and catchy tunes, and I do consider him a great composer.

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Yes, but each piece has a style. I didn't say that he took melodies. He makes his own, except when he is doing a piece with the word variations in the title. He is the best because he is so original, his melodies and harmonies are great, and he can utilize any style of music. It is also completely personal preference, and I can't speak for anyone but myself.

~Conor

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hm... a good question: Is JW the best composer of the 20th century? As a real big fan, I would say NO. He is one of the best, but not THE best I think. And - of course - it´s difficult to say than, WHO is/was the best composer. There are too many: think of Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, both still living in the beginning of the 20th century. Arnold Schoenberg (primarly not as composer, but he invented 12-tone-music). And even if you ask, if JW is the best filmscore-composer of the 20th century, it´s really difficult: Korngold, Waxmann, Hermann, Rozsa come to mind...

But let´s see it the other way round: if you ask, is Mozart the best composer of the 18th century, you would say YES. But than you think of Haydn.

Or is Beethoven the best of the 19th? Yes? What about Brahms?

So, finally, I would say, Williams is not the best, but I am not able to say, who than IS the best. But one thing for sure: Williams will - like Mozart and Haydn - never be forgotten.

-- Alawill

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This century?

Well......this is a bit of a big thing to say, and will probably piss some folks off, but i think he's the greatest composer/musician EVER. Not just the 20th century. I'm talking about the history of music. THAT'S how much I respect the guy and how much I love his work.

Of course, this is all purely my opinion.

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OK, with Shostakovich, Ligetti, Korngold, Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Herrmann, Walton, Prokofiev, Ravel, Gershwin.... He might not be the best composer of the century, but he is one of them.

I would have liked an option that said, no he is not the BEST composer but he is my FAVORITE composer.

Since there wasn't I voted for the second choice, which isn't entirely true but it comes closest to what I think.

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I'm with Harry and Kevin: John Williams is THE best composer that hs ever lived. Obviously this is highly subjective, but it's the way I feel. The man has moved and touched me like I never thought possible for someone I don't even know. I am entirely in his debt.

Ray Barnsbury

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I didn't vote since I don't know that many 20th century composers.The Montreal Gazette classical dude "rated" his Call of the Champion album and gave it **/*****.

He said that most readers will easily recognise Williams as the leading composer of film music of the modern era,and also had earned the reputation of the guy to call whenever a notable celebratory event takes place,but he said listening to the whole album straigh through,even though the music is meant to be uplifting,it's only in a superficial way and that ultimately everything sounds all out of the same pod and is self-defeating.Personally listening straight through my Williams Fanfare and Hymn compilation gives me the same feeling.Small doses at a time of that stuff is better.

He does somewhat get some good reviews for the classical albums he puts out.Personally I don't like any of his concertos all that much.Too dissonant and just plain weird to me.The only piece I really like on the Yo-Yo album is the Elegy...probably because it,s more lyrical and sounds like film music.I don't care much about the rest.

I think he will earn his place as best FILM composer of this century,and his work as such WILL be more remembered than the others,but not best overall composer.His body of work outside of film is not that considerable either,some concertos and essays for various instruments,and some celebratory music.

What makes him my PERSONNAL best is the way he can layer his music cohesively and make full use of very large orchestra,and I love that type of music compared to lets say Chamber music or plain piano sonatas.And I never quite heard this much use of the full orchetra in any other composer except Wagner.

K.M.Who thinks pretty much 18th or 19th classical music pretty much sounds the all the same.

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I also voted for the second option because I think he is one of the best, but perhaps not the best overall. He is my all-time favorite film composer though. In the classical field, I love the work of Alan Hovhaness. His 2nd Symphony (Mysterious Mountain) is on The Five Sacred Trees CD. :mrgreen:

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He's the greatest living composer. (technically that makes him the greatest composer of THIS century) I'm just not familiar with ALL of the greats of this century to make an informed decision. A classical snob would undoubtably say no. Fortunately, I am not one of those. The only composers making an impact nowadays are in film.

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While it is easy to say that Schoenberg was the most influencial composer of the twentieth century-- most influencial to other composers, that is. Take a look at what Williams has on his track record:

His score to Star Wars brought back the full orchestral score to Hollywood.

His scores to Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. introduced an entire generation of Americans to orchestral music.

His music has inspired people to become musicians (re: comments Williams made concerning scoring session of The Phantom Menace) and has influenced other composers (i.e.: me).

While I am impressed that my nephew (all of seven) has been introduced to the music of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Gershwin in the same public elementary school that I graduated from twenty years ago (all I got was a couple of sing-alongs with folk songs), it was the Force Theme that he was humming at the age of four.

His music has touched millions of people. If he's not be the best composer, he certainly is the most important composer of the twentieth century.

With all this, keep in mind: great music touches the soul and never lets go. And whatever has touched your soul and hasn't let go must be viewed as the best music for you. We are all different and all have different tastes. Viva la difference!

Peace

b.

:mrgreen: Harry Potter (the score, not the poster)

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I went with the 2nd option. Whie I consider Johnny the best scorer of the 20th century I would not exactly consider scores like Stanley and Iris the height of his musical ability by ANY MEANS!

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I did not vote because I did not find an option that I agree completely with.

John is the best film composer ever, in my opinion.

He has taken his craft to a level no-one else can sustain. Few can even reach his level.

John is my hero.

I don't know that he is the best music composer of the 20th century, but he is the best film music composer.

Joe, who thinks Prince is a genius as well.

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I went with "Nah, the guy is good and all but not the best". Most of the great composers of the century, which Williams seems to draw his inspiration, were mentioned by others. I do enjoy Williams more than anybody else, but I can appreciate the difference between best and favorite.

Neil

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Debussy, Bartok, Messiaen and Stravinsky - without these guys there would be no inspiration - without inspiration there would be no music. It's a bit single-minded to say that JW is the best 20th century composer, but maybe he will be the most inspirational composer of the 21st...

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In my opinion, he is the best composer of the 20th century. I don't know anything about music and yet I enjoy listening to his music. I don't enjoy listening to Herrman's music, but Williams' is appealing, it makes me want to listen to it.

Since 90% of the population isn't a musical expert, isn't that what really counts?

-ROSS, really stressed with an ulcer and a recent white tress in his hair. Geez, I'm 17!

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Well, There are SOOOO many composers in the 20th Century that is a WAY difficult question. It is hard to stand up against all the composers people have brought up..... He is my favorite FILM composer ever..and my question to you. . .

Do you think he will be classified as best/most prolific/blah blah composer of the 21st Century?

Think of all the up coming composers in the next 100 years that will grow up with JW's compositions being taught in music history classes!

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His scores to Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. introduced an entire generation of Americans to orchestral music.  

Amer??? :confused:

Hector - who's feeling like Andre Lux allof a sudden at all the.... *********

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I didn't pick any option. Why? Because I couldn't choose.(if you had to ask) There have been many greats in the 20th century and although Williams is the most enjoyable, he is not the most innovative or complex etc. So in a sense he is, in another he isn't.

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For me he is the greatest composer of all centuries. But only if you count his very good compositions. John Williams isn´t only a great composer,

he is my idol. After leaving school I wanna become a (Film-)composer.

Maybe I`ll score Star Wars Episode 7-9? :)

:music: Raiders score

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His scores to Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. introduced an entire generation of Americans to orchestral music.  

Amer??? :confused:

Hector - who's feeling like Andre Lux allof a sudden at all the.... *********

Well, I didn't want to speak for the entire world. I have some knowledge of Ameican culture in the twentieth cenutry, but not for the entire world. While I do on occasion speak out of turn, I try to limit it as much as I can. Hector, you live in Mexico, do you think that Williams' work introduced a generation of Mexicans to orchestral music? If so, please feel free to speak for the people of your country. :)

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Well, I didn't want to speak for the entire world. I have some knowledge of Ameican culture in the twentieth cenutry, but not for the entire world. While I do on occasion speak out of turn, I try to limit it as much as I can. Hector, you live in Mexico, do you think that Williams' work introduced a generation of Mexicans to orchestral music? If so, please feel free to speak for the people of your country.

I meant the rest of the world my good man, here we have a lot of people that are not americans. But I know the way you feel, sometimes you guys forget there's something else beyond the United States

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Not really, It's a good score, I was kind of saying you should have it, especially as a mexican :)

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What do you mean, Morn? That all Mexicans should have the Viva Zapata score? Then, all Americans should have The Patriot score, all French should have Les Misérables score, all Argentinians should have the Evita score (and they don't, the show is banned there), all Italians should have the Life is Beautiful score and all Germans would in bankrupcy due to the amount of scores to buy! :?:

Well, in case you didn't mean it, this I just typed is pretty useless, but I thought it was worth the risk. :)

-ROSS, suffering summer allergy

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No, seriously Morn.

As an american, do you own the scores to Birth of a Nation, Best Years of Our Lives, Patton, The Patriot, Independence Day, Primary Colors, As Thousands Cheer, Pearl Harbor, 1941, Saving Private Ryan, Pay it Forward, Hart's War, American History X, JFK, Nixon, Amistad, Gettisburg, The Last of the mohicans or Beloved?

I mean, it's really absurd if you think about it :?

-ROSS trying to avoid controversy but defending his point of view

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Me American????

Anyway, you miss understood. I ment, that is a great score, and being mexican is one more reason to get it!

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I think the question should be is John Williams the best FILM COMPOSER of the 20th century (which I feel he still is not: look for example Bernard Hermann!).

If you mean just composer (of any medium) of the 20th century, then I would have to say you are all very mistaken.

I think the best composer of the 20th century was Stravinksy. But look at everyone else we forgot:

Mahler, Shostakovich, Bartok, Sibelius, Debussy, Satie, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Cowell, Cage, Ives, Copland, Gershwin, Rodgers, Messiaen, Boulez, Stockhausen, Varese, Xenakis, Ligeti, Holst, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Glass, Adams, Reich, Hermann, Raksin, Friedhoffer, Newman, L. Bernstein, E. Bernstein, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Coltrane, Davis, etc ad nauseum.

You mean to tell me that Mr. Williams is better than ALL of those people (plus the hundreds of people that I can't remember!)??? I don't think so, esp. since a lot of Williams' material is derived from or inspired by the works of these people, particularly the film composers plus Stravinsky and L. Bernstein.

Don't get me wrong, Williams is good, but to say he is the best overall composer of the 20th century goes too far.

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You mean to tell me that Mr. Williams is better than ALL of those people (plus the hundreds of people that I can't remember!)???

Yes :)

Ray Barnsbury

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Then I am truly sorry. You should listen to more music, and then you will discover that (John) Williams is not as good as some of these others. Why? Objectively, it's because Williams got a lot of ideas (inspiration, quotation, and plagiarism) for his music from their's. Also objectively, their music contains more advanced harmonic language and orchestrations (orchestrations which made William's music even possible!). Subjectively, they provide more content and substance than's William's music.

I suggest you listen to some Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich, Mahler, and Hermann, and then tell me if you think Williams truly could ever match their abilities.

(P.S. - John Williams is my favorite composer ever. I love his music, and am often looked down upon in my school's music department for liking him at all! I am merely trying to present an argument that I believe most musicologist would agree with. My point is that the classical snobs at my school should pay more attention to him, and they just might if fanatics like myself just calm down a little bit, but still l love his music!). :cry:

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You make a good point, jsawruk.

But what you say leads us to the question of what is good? Is good something that follows musical rules and employs the techniques in a wise, scheduled way? Or is good a piece which is nice to listen to, no matter how many musicales techniques the composer broke?

It's only by having a clear concept of what for each one of is good that we can judge Williams' work.

-ROSS

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Amer??? :confused:

Hector - who's feeling like Andre Lux allof a sudden at all the.... *********

Hector, be proud of your heritage. You, my friend should never feel like Andre Lux, he would have pointed out he was an American, without pointing out he was a South American. Then he would have proceeded to tell us all how stupid we were for thinking so highly of John Williams. And then say he actually likes John. Yet he bashes John at every turn.

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I have no idea who any of these 20th century composers are, but put it this way, if their music survives after them, then that is a measure of some type of greatness. John's music will live long after him and will be more memorable than any of the other 20th century composers anyone named including Bernard Herrmann.

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But what you say leads us to the question of what is good? Is good something that follows musical rules and employs the techniques in a wise, scheduled way? Or is good a piece which is nice to listen to, no matter how many musicales techniques the composer broke?

I agree. Williams is probably the best in terms of emotional depth. Others might be the best at technical quality or originality. That is why I think it is impossible to say that someone is the best composer. Because, there are so many different aspects to judge. I will say however that Williams is right at the top.

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Man did I miss this thread. :(

I voted for the top option

Justin -Who thinks Williams is the Supercomposer! :jump:

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I have no idea who any of these 20th century composers are, but put it this way, if their music survives after them, then that is a measure of some type of greatness.  John's music will live long after him and will be more memorable than any of the other 20th century composers anyone named including Bernard Herrmann.

If you don't remember Bernard Herrmann, I'm sorry. I do realize that he is not as well remembered as he should be, but certainly there are several composers that I did mention that are much remembered, including:

Copland, Gershwin, Rodgers (I guess they are remembered a lot because I am in America and they are all Americans), Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Reich, and Cage. The others do have more technical appeal (such as Berg, for instance), and are mostly not known outside of music educated people. But those with no musical education (that I know anyway), know of the first 3 and the last one I mentioned (again, they are all Americans, so I'm sure nationality has something to do with it. Fins remember Sibelius a lot, but I'm sure they don't know Gershwin!).

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But what you say leads us to the question of what is good? Is good something that follows musical rules and employs the techniques in a wise, scheduled way? Or is good a piece which is nice to listen to, no matter how many musicales techniques the composer broke?

I agree. Williams is probably the best in terms of emotional depth. Others might be the best at technical quality or originality. That is why I think it is impossible to say that someone is the best composer. Because, there are so many different aspects to judge. I will say however that Williams is right at the top.

What is "good" is a relative term, and follows BOTH: being technically masterful AND pleasing to listen to. Surely, Boulez's Structures is a high technical achievement, but I'm sure no one much enjoys it. The converse is also true. Achieving a balance between them makes a piece good, such as Beethoven's 5th, 6th, and 9th symphonies in classical music, Sgt. Pepper's in rock, and Star Wars in film.

As far as being best in emotional depth, I wholly disagree. Listen to any Mahler symphony, Shostakovich's String Quartet in C minor, and Messiaen's Quartour pour la fin du Temps. Then you will experience the true emotional depth that surpasses John Williams (again, may I remind you that John Williams is my favorite composer ever, with Wagner and Beethoven very close).

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I should have said I don't know most of them. Of course I know Herrmann but I don't feel that his music is as good as John's. I know Gershwin for his songs more than just the music itself. Copeland is ok, but he's not John.

John may derive inspiration from past masters but all pupils do that. Still John has painted a tapastry of his own, uniquely his own. Just as there was a Gerswhin or Copeland sound, so is there a Williams sound.

And to music snobs who dismiss John, they are the losers, as they limit themselves.

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why did it say i was guest before?

And it's Copland, not Copeland.

I still say that you should listen to Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Mahler, as these 3 are posssibly the best composers of the 20th century.

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Listen to any Mahler symphony

I have all his symphonies. And none of them have made me cry like Williams has, as much as I like most of them.

I still say that you should listen to Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Mahler, as these 3 are posssibly the best composers of the 20th century.

I would agree, if you took Shostakovich out of that list :jump: The only thing by him I love that I have is the Violin Concerto. There is much Mahler and Stravinsky that I love though.

John may derive inspiration from past masters but all pupils do that. Still John has painted a tapastry of his own, uniquely his own. Just as there was a Gerswhin or Copeland sound, so is there a Williams sound.

Very true, however of the ones that are considered the best, they have generally matured further from their roots than Williams.

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