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Here is what other composers are saying about John Williams


Lewya
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11 minutes ago, crumbs said:

(like his annoyance at Titanic simply because it was the same year he was nominated for Kundun;

 

That's the closest he comes to making a derogatory comment in the whole interview, in my view. But more than anything it's just an honest personal statement: He clearly was happy with his music for Kundun and probably also has a lot of respect for the film (I still haven't seen it), but instead of this, more "artistic" if you will, project, Titanic won more or less everything that year - and it's certainly the very definition of a "mainstream" production (even if an extremely well made one). Speaking that clearly may show a touch of vanity, but that's just human, and he mentions it specifically because he's asked about Titanic. He doesn't even comment on its actual merits or non-merits, probably because doesn't have much interest for it, so it's not surprising that his main connection with it is being slightly miffed that Kundun lost to it, in whatever category.

 

Williams of course always comes across as very humble in his interviews, but there have been debates on this board in the past whether he really is so exceedingly humble, or whether part of it is just the way he presents himself. Goldsmith clearly was annoyed at how Williams became more (and lastingly) popular and in demand than himself in the late 70s, but so far we haven't classified that as being derogatory towards WIlliams.

 

11 minutes ago, crumbs said:

he didn't even see the film but saw fit to reiterate his point that composers like Horner don't invent anything). 

 

Because that was the setup to the question. If anything, he says that while they're not inventors (which he said before), he still considers them a) very good at what they do and b) friends.

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17 minutes ago, KK said:

Anything else is just a projection of Williams fanboy bias.

 

I enjoyed the insight most of your post provided but could have done without the sneering first and last lines.

 

Just because others have found a different interpretation of these comments doesn't mean those opinions are little more than a projection of 'fanboy bias.' 

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21 minutes ago, KK said:

Cheers @Marian Schedenig for being the rationalist of this thread. Saves some of us time.

 

Glass' comments aren't so much derogatory as they are an honest reflection on his own priorities. Many artists are driven by questioning form, and convention. Asking oneself "why". And there's rarely ever space, time or money to ask such questions in a film studio.

 

His own music came from a period that rejected the establishment and conventions of music-making. So it makes sense that the idea of challenging normative expectations is his priority and preference (even if his own music hasn't done that in years...which is also okay). And in the concert world, or even pop, you're creating autonomous music for music's sake, so you have more freedom in developing or pushing forward a language of a school of thought. In film music, you're serving a picture and a genre first. So, if you work hard and train well, you become a master technician like Williams, and become virtuosically adept at dipping into multiple traditions of music-making to serve the needs of the story at hand. And like Glass says, that's not say there aren't "innovators" in these forms, but for the most part, Williams isn't one. And that's okay. That's all Glass' comments are really pointing to.

 

Anything else is just a projection of Williams fanboy bias.

 

Yes, Glass began as an iconoclast and his POV still very much reflects that.  I find artists' opinions on other artists to be very valuable, but more for how those opinions reflect back on their own work and background, not for their academic value or fairness.

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7 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

Goldsmith clearly was annoyed at how Williams became more (and lastingly) popular and in demand than himself in the late 70s, but so far we haven't classified that as being derogatory towards WIlliams.

 

Can't say I've read anything specifically from Goldsmith on that topic but I can imagine him making such comments. Do you know any interviews where he broached that subject?

 

7 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

Because that was the setup to the question. If anything, he says that while they're not inventors (which he said before), he still considers them a) very good at what they do and b) friends.

 

It's just the way he reiterated that earlier point, specifically after mentioning his annoyance at the film (a view he's perfectly entitled to have) that gave me an impression of a deeper frustration at 'mainstream' composers, beyond their level of inventiveness. That's just my interpretation. 

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6 minutes ago, crumbs said:

Can't say I've read anything specifically from Goldsmith on that topic but I can imagine him making such comments. Do you know any interviews where he broached that subject?

 

There have been a few comments on it over the years, mostly in relation to the cancelled book with his "candid" comments on film music and his colleagues (of which I myself have only read a few quotes from the longer excerpts that were floating around on the net).

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Interesting. I vaguely recall seeing comments on here in the past that Williams and Goldsmith used to be close in their London days but drifted apart as their careers diverged. 

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39 minutes ago, KK said:

Glass' comments aren't so much derogatory as they are an honest reflection on his own priorities.

 

That may be true, but I think this transcends 'priorities'. Again, Glass is free to have 'invention' as his primary criterion for judgement, but the way he talks about other modes isn't just limited, it's basically dismissive. He says that composers like Williams and Horner have "talent" (without specifying talent for what, exactly, except 're-packaging'), but what he's basically saying is that they are good at juggling references, and hence compose 'inferior' music to what is 'proper' music.

 

In short, it's his whole evaluation and ideology system I have an issue with. I applaud his honesty, but I fundamentally disagree with his whole approach to musical quality.

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1 hour ago, Marian Schedenig said:

But he's right that in the grand scheme of things, Williams will not be remembered as a revolutionary, or for any particular innovation

 

He'll be remembered for his anecdotes.

 

1 hour ago, Marian Schedenig said:

It would be interesting to list other established composers throughout history who were not particularly inventive. It does seem that mostly those that are widely remembered and respected for their body of works (rather than a few individual highlights) are indeed those who brought something decidedly new to the table, but certainly there must be highly respected ones who were just excellent artists and craftsmen, even if they didn't invent something of significance.

 

Rachmaninov is a textbook example.

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I forgot to post these 2 comments on John Williams, the first one is from the French actress/sing-song writer Charlotte Gainsbourg (who have acted in some Lars von Trier films), and the second one is from the French musican/film composer Chassol. The Towering Inferno inspired him to persue film scoring, even if he likes it less now.

 

Charlotte Gainsbourg included the Theme from Jaws among the music that has soundtracked her life: https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2017/12/memoir-charlotte-gainsbourgs-life-in-music

 

Charlotte Gainsbourg: Film soundtracks are important to me. They have influenced my music, but of course I have also acted in a lot of movies. This selection is my mother’s fault. She took me to London when I was four. The film was out and in London it wasn’t banned. I saw the film and it traumatized me. Musically, John Williams’ score is incredible. The soundtrack has haunted me ever since I first saw it. I listen to it again today with great pleasure. It’s a very prominent memory.

 

Chassol talks about John Williams in French while some excerpts from Williams's lesser-known scores (Catch Me If You Can, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, The Eiger Sanction etc) play:

 

 

Chassol: Yes, film music: Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith occupied me a lot of time during my adolescence.

 

Chassol: I discovered the music of film with Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “My Name is Nobody”, “Duck, You Sucker!”, “Once Upon a Time in America”… I really studied the music of these films in particular. There was John Williams from Steven Spielberg films, and also Jerry Goldsmith. There were so many films from the late 1960s and early 1970s… I really liked their aesthetics, the way they were shot, their themes that combined politics and paranoia. I discovered Brian De Palma when I was a teenager with “Carrie“. I also love photography, and Vilmos Zsigmond, who had also worked on “The Deer Hunter“, was the director of photography for the film. There seems to be a sort of veil over the camera – I even heard  that it was because he put milk on it! It’s an image I love, and it’s found in a lot of Brian De Palma’s films, including “Obsession“. I love that De Palma’s films were thrillers, that there was a bit of the paranormal, plus voyeurism themes, long traveling shots like in “Blow Out” where Travolta is a sound recorder, or the scenes in supermarkets, museums where he follows women. There’s something perverse about it, but his way of filming is incredible, as is his use of music. De Palma is a fan of Hitchcock, so he worked with Bernard Hermann, then when he died he chose Pino Donaggio (“Carrie”, “Blow Out”, “Dressed to Kill”, “Body Double”…). He had a real signature. Synchronization, camera movements, music… that’s what I loved when I was a teenager.

 

Interviewer: What are three essential film scores?

 

Christophe Chassol: So…. Let's say "The Planet of the Apes" by Jerry Goldsmith (1968), perhaps "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Morricone and then we must also quote Bernard Herrmann for "Vertigo" or a John Williams.

 

Interviewer: John Williams?

 

Christophe Chassol: It’s really important anyway. I really liked it younger. I like less now. But it’s super important because sometimes it goes beyond the realm of film music like Jaws for example. For me, it was The Towering Inferno that really motivated me to make film music. It’s a youthful thing. I ran into it on TV. I hallucinated about the opening at the Copland, the great outdoors, the big brass, the open quarters. So to sum up, I would say "The Planet of the Apes", "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" or "Once upon a time in America" which is still magnificent.

 

Besides, we were talking about a booklet just now, and while listening recently to "Once upon a time in America", I was reading the booklet and there was a musician who said: "we were all there and we felt that something crazy was going on and when we got nothing as a reward, we were stuck. " Speaking of which, one of the first videos that I harmonized, it’s an Oscar award from 1976, my year of birth by the way, and that’s just crazy about the nominees. You have Herrmann for "Obsession" by Brian de Palma, Herrmann for "Taxi Driver", Lalo Schifrin for "Voyage Of The Damned", Jerry Fielding whom I love for "Josey Wales" and Jerry Goldsmith for "The Omen". Another film music that really stood out to me was Stravinsky in film music, with something else too.

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I will always associate her with this badass cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But wait! Forget all this crap about Phillips Ass or Glass or whatever his name is! What about Freddie Mercury!?

 

 

 

 

Queen hates John Williams!!! :o:angry:

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5 hours ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

 

Williams of course always comes across as very humble in his interviews, but there have been debates on this board in the past whether he really is so exceedingly humble, or whether part of it is just the way he presents himself. Goldsmith clearly was annoyed at how Williams became more (and lastingly) popular and in demand than himself in the late 70s, but so far we haven't classified that as being derogatory towards WIlliams.

 

What the hell?? Williams always beeing modest. Lovely person. Jerry maybe jealous? 

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4 hours ago, moi said:

 

What the hell?? Williams always beeing modest. Lovely person. Jerry maybe jealous? 

Don't you remember that time Johnny threatened Michael Giacchino over the phone, he said it quietly, but I'll never forget it:

'You're out, Mickey. I never want to see your fingerprints on my music ever again. Capisce?'

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13 hours ago, crumbs said:

Interesting. I vaguely recall seeing comments on here in the past that Williams and Goldsmith used to be close in their London days but drifted apart as their careers diverged. 

 

Goldsmith wasn't really so much commenting on Williams, but singling out Bernstein (Elmer), Previn and Williams as 'starfuckers'. The main point was how these guys got rich and famous through the medium film but tried to branch out into more 'respectable' realms of music, with famous orchestras and soloists and classical repertoire etc., Goldsmith thought it phony. 

 

It's a POV, but i never found it insulting, just annoyed (Previn had a good point, though, when he said he quit the film business when he sat with a producer and suddenly realized he was talking to a man who had to speak along while reading). Both men were clearly highly respectful of the other's abilities.

 

Horner, though, was another matter.

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17 minutes ago, publicist said:

Horner, though, was another matter.

 

Please elaborate.

 

17 minutes ago, publicist said:

when he sat with a producer and suddenly realized he was talking to a man who had to speak along while reading

 

I'm not sure I understand what you mean.

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The guy couldn't read without speaking the words simultaneously.

 

As for Horner, in the late 70's he was mentored by Goldsmith and hung around recording sessions (and presumably even dated his daughter once or twice), but later made strange public  statements as if he never heard of him, even when he pillaged Star Trek & The Omen for his early scores. Horner had some form of Asperger, so he said many things that probably shouldn't be taken verbatim, but Goldsmith found his whole persona disagreeable and generally didn't mention him, except when asked about 'Titanic' (not a nice comment) and Horner himself mentioned how Goldsmith turned down the job of guest conductor at the 1998 ceremony because he couldn't stand the thought of having to conduct 'Titanic' during the whole broadcast.

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1 hour ago, publicist said:

Previn had a good point, though, when he said he quit the film business when he sat with a producer and suddenly realized he was talking to a man who had to speak along while reading

 

1 hour ago, publicist said:

The guy couldn't read without speaking the words simultaneously.

 

Reminds me of Kevin Smith's story about delivering a Superman outline to Jon Peters 

 

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On 5/1/2020 at 11:04 AM, Thor said:

 

That is true. The recent TALES FROM THE LOOP score is, in fact, an example of Glass approximating Max Richter's approximation of Glass.

 

Just finished watching Tales Of The Loop. The music amplified the special atmosphere and introspective mood of the series wonderfully well. Co-composer is Paul Leonard-Morgan.

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I'm soon writing a review of it, and it won't be too kind, I'm afraid. They should have gone for something along the Vangelis stuff that Stålenhag himself wrote for his world - https://open.spotify.com/album/4ZLaWZnViH3hbSIrRW3ixR

 

So it figures that when you finally like something, I don't, Alex. We really are yin and yang. :)

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Track 5 'Chipmunkiosis' sure feels like 'Blade Runner Blues'. It's clear that the producer didn't want blatant Blade Runner references for Tales Of The Loop. Anyway, have you heard any 'Midnight Express' influences this year? :mrgreen:

 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, Alexcremers said:

Track 5 'Chipmunkiosis' sure feels like 'Blade Runner Blues'. It's clear that the producer didn't want blatant Blade Runner references for Tales Of The Loop. Anyway, have you heard any 'Midnight Express' influences this year? 

 

Yes, every day, every year. It's part of what synthwave is all about these days.

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Just now, Thor said:

 

Yes, every day, every year. It's part of what synthwave is all about these days.

 

What are some of the leading synthwave artists? 

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14 minutes ago, Alexcremers said:

 

What are some of the leading synthwave artists? 

 

My favourite is unquestionably Waveshaper. Have all his stuff. But other favs include Robert Parker, Steve Moore, Disasterpeace, Carpenter Brut, Douglas Holmquist, Daniel Deluxe, Kavinsky, Power Glove, to mention some.

 

Other 'leading artists' that I haven't yet delved into include The Midnight, FM-84, Lazerhawk, Perturbator, Dynatron etc. etc.

 

You can find lots of their stuff on Bandcamp.

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2 hours ago, Thor said:

You can find lots of their stuff on Bandcamp.

 

What about Spotify? That's all I have.

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19 hours ago, Thor said:

 

My favourite is unquestionably Waveshaper. Have all his stuff. But other favs include Robert Parker, Steve Moore, Disasterpeace, Carpenter Brut, Douglas Holmquist, Daniel Deluxe, Kavinsky, Power Glove, to mention some.

 

Other 'leading artists' that I haven't yet delved into include The Midnight, FM-84, Lazerhawk, Perturbator, Dynatron etc. etc.

 

You can find lots of their stuff on Bandcamp.

 

I dunno, Thor, I went to Waveshaper's facebook page and the first thing I read is "I've seen things ...". ;)

 

 

And then there's this:

 

Quote

Waveshaper: "I am heavily influenced by 80’s movie soundtracks, the sounds from movies like The Terminator, Blade Runner and Scarface. Mix this and 8-bit video games and Amiga/Atari stuff and this is pretty much what I grew up on." 

 

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Yes, that's what the whole genre is about. A mish-mash of Vangelis, Moroder, Carpenter, Faltemeyer, Hammer, 80s videogames, you name it - but with updated elements from the last couple of decades. Be warned, though -- once you start exploring this stuff, it's easy to get addicted!

 

(and perhaps we should start a new thread on it, we've been off-topic here long enough).

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3 hours ago, moi said:

That music is literally opposite to Williams'. 

 

You mean across the hall from his office? Or across the street from his home? Or does it follow him around wherever he goes?

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  • 4 months later...

Negative words about John Williams from Zbigniew Preisner (from 2004 by the way):

 

"Most American films use a composer like John Williams, when there is music all the time to tell you what to think and how to feel. A bit of danger: some scary horns. A love scene: romantic strings. But the French writer Baudelaire was right when he said that the matter for the artist is not to describe what he sees, but what he feels."

 

Preisner admires Ennio Morricone and the French film composer Michel Legrand, but not Williams seemingly.

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Also, this from perhaps the leading American classical composer of his generation, Andrew Norman: 

 

 

Oh, and I also found this. Eric Whitacre was seemingly asked to name his top 3/favourite living Hollywood composers.

 

 

I am trying to find/think of more composers mentioning Williams. If you find something, please post.

 

Here is one I remember:

 

Pulitzer Prize-winner (and Oscar winner) John Corigliano liked the score to Jaws and mentioned Williams among the film composers he admired when he was asked which film composers he admired (the other ones were Goldsmith, Rosenman, Morricone and Rozsa). 

 

Corigliano considered Goldsmith to be the best. Also, if I remember correctly Corigliano has a somewhat lower opinion of Bernard Herrmann even if he has said that Herrmann is "one of the great film composers". He criticized a Herrmann concert work (I believe it was his clarinet quartet Souvenirs De Voyage) saying that "Herrmann went on and on with little to say".

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've recently discovered Pat Metheny whose music I've come to adore. When asked what his favourite film scores at the time were, this was one of them:

 

Quote

Schindler’s List, besides being one of the most incredible movies anybody’s made, also has for me one of the greatest scores ever written.  People almost dismiss John Williams, oh, Star Wars and Spielberg and all that.  He is such an incredibly great writer, and he’s got such a great mind for texture and kind of density and… With him, I really get this feeling of a canvas, and the way he places colors and everything is really something.  Even on a craft level, just what he does with those really big movies… It’s kind of hard to do that.  It’s hard to keep something going for 45 minutes buried underneath explosions and everything like that, and have it still kind of swing, in a way.  Swing in the sort of broadest sense of the word, glueing everything together with this forward motion thing.  He’s a heavy cat, John Williams is.  But that score in particular also has some incredible melodies in it.

 

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On 10/5/2020 at 11:42 PM, Lewya said:

Negative words about John Williams from Zbigniew Preisner (from 2004 by the way):

 

"Most American films use a composer like John Williams, when there is music all the time to tell you what to think and how to feel. A bit of danger: some scary horns. A love scene: romantic strings. But the French writer Baudelaire was right when he said that the matter for the artist is not to describe what he sees, but what he feels."

 

Preisner admires Ennio Morricone and the French film composer Michel Legrand, but not Williams seemingly.

 

I love Preisner to death and think he's the greatest living European film composer after Morricone's passing, but that remark just shows a lack of understanding of Williams' work. Would also have been great if he had listened to other things than the big and epic blockbusters. I'm sure Preisner would have loved some of Williams' more lowkey or experimental scores.

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5 hours ago, Thor said:

I love Preisner to death and think he's the greatest living European film composer after Morricone's passing, but that remark just shows a lack of understanding of Williams' work. Would also have been great if he had listened to other things than the big and epic blockbusters. I'm sure Preisner would have loved some of Williams' more lowkey or experimental scores.

 

It's an almost endearingly old-fashioned European POV. He's using Williams only as a symbol, by that time Horner scores (like Titanic or Deep Impact and all the usual studio fluff) could have been pegged much more sensibly as examples of that kind of Hollywood what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach. Williams at least deviated from that more often than not by this time, even if his choice of projects often mandated such approach (i. e. The Patriot). I still mourn that he separated from Altman so early, it's this kind of filmmaker that would have been a good antidote.

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More negativity, this time from Michael Nyman (from 1993) - the exact quote is out there somewhere on the internet, but right now I can't find it.

 

Nyman said something to the effect of "the Academy seems to be so impressed with his work" (nominating Schindler's List).

 

He probably said this in part because Nyman was disappointed he wasn't nominated himself that year for The Piano.

 

Nyman admires Ennio Morricone and Bernard Herrmann (Nyman said was in awe of and heavily influenced by them both), but seemingly not Williams.

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I don't see any reason for why one should disparage the work of a composer just because he or she is negative towards Williams. I don't like Nyman any less just because he's Williams-critical. Just as I don't like Terry Gilliam any less just because he doesn't like Spielberg. Or like Bergman any less just because he was critical of Antonioni.

 

I can agree or disagree with their statements, of course (and even label them uninformed, if applicable), but find no reason to pit their work up against Williams. One doesn't have anything to do with the other.

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