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Is John Williams the Bach of our time?


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If JW was our Bach, we would have to endure +200 obsessive odes to Jesus that all beg the question, why didn't you use more text for your amazing music and when are you going to get tired of it?

 

But, if it hadn't been for Bach, we might never have had the amazing Shark Cage Fugue.

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Bach is too rigid for Williams. I would say even Brahms is too squared off for Williams although it's a closer fit. He's romantic, not to the excess of Mahler but definitely along the lines of Vaughan Williams. Coincidentally.

 

Horner is Bruckner, doing his own thing which also happens to be the same thing every time.

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9 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

The guitarist?

As far as I know the guitarist doesn't compose. Would have loved a guitar concerto though, Williams for Williams.

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16 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

JW wouldn't like to be next to Wagner.

 

Really? Has he expressed distaste towards Wagner's music? That would be surprising, given how much he owes him, musically.

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Hm. I'd love to read that. I don't know if he has ever played or recorded Wagner in his Boston Pops days (I only have a handful of his Boston Pops albums), but perhaps some of you know?

 

I mean, I can understand a criticism of Wagner's political leanings, but musically, he's the benchmark for film music, including Williams' own. Would seem odd to dismiss him.

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44 minutes ago, Thor said:

Has he expressed distaste towards Wagner's music? That would be surprising, given how much he owes him, musically.


Indeed. I still fondly remember his remark that, given the opportunity to compose to film “Wagner would have had his own studio here in Burbank with a large water-tower and a W on it.”

 

I was going to say, if there is to be a parallel, isn’t Williams the Wagner of our time?

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8 minutes ago, Chen G. said:


Indeed. I still fondly remember his remark that, given the opportunity to compose to film “Wagner would have had his own studio here in Burbank with a large water-tower and a W on it.”

 

Indeed, if there is to be a parallel, isn’t Williams the Wagner of our time?

 

That's not the remark I was referring to. It was an interview done this year, I think. 

 

On 11/21/2020 at 10:36 PM, blondheim said:

I would love to know your reasoning behind these choices.

 

Don't go there. :nono:

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I think, that these the someone of our time does not help much in any direction.

At his time Bach was musically an inventer in many ways. Williams is a traditionallist.

None of the contemporary composers has the possibility to be as inventive as people like Bach or Beethoven were.

But what are you comparing? Creativity? Musicallity? Amount of output? Sallary? Private circumstances? Popularity? Style?

 

I remember statements like Adrew Lloyd Webber is the Mozart of our time. Poor Mozart.

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14 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

That's not the remark I was referring to. It was an interview done this year, I think.

Did he say he disliked Wagner's music specifically, or was he talking about his person, i.e. antisemitism?

 

If I recall correctly, he mentioned Wagner in one of the bonus interviews on the Vienna Blu-ray release, but I'll have to double check that. I don't actually remember what he said.

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1 hour ago, Thor said:

Hm. I'd love to read that.

"As those themes are often associated with individual characters in the movie, some writers have surmised that Williams must have been influenced by Wagner, who introduced the idea of leitmotifs in his operas. But Williams scoffs at such a comparison.

“I’ve actually heard very little of his music, and I’m not a particular fan of his for a lot of reasons,” Williams said."

 

Chute James, “John Williams to premiere work at SummerFest - ‘Quartet La Jolla’ takes the spotlight Friday”, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 August 2011,

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/classical-music/sdut-la-jolla-music-society-summerfest-john-williams-2011aug13-htmlstory.html

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Williams recently discouraged Wagner associations in a video interview that was linked here about Star Wars. Something about leitmotif technique and how he didn't really think he followed any Wagnerian principle (and didn't listen to Wagner). 

 

 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, publicist said:

Something about leitmotif technique and how he didn't really think he followed any Wagnerian principle

 

But he mentioned Wagner with regards to his use of leitmotives all the time; and quite rightly, too.

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34 minutes ago, Albus Percival Wulfric said:

Williams owes a lot to Wagnerians (Korngold, Herrmann, Waxman), but little to Wagner.

 

Tone-wise, he isn't that similar, perhaps. But definitely in approach and execution. Nobody writing film music since the dawn of the medium escapes his influence. And especially not composers in the late romantic idiom.

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Maybe Johnny is too PC to enjoy Wagners music? Besides Wagners questionable opinions on several topics he has written amazing music. "The Map Room" sounds a lot like Wagner imo.

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They say Bach is the John Williams of his time.  He wrote lots of popular music on commission but a lot of complex music too just for himself or performer/friends.

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24 minutes ago, Steve said:

Maybe Johnny is too PC to enjoy Wagners music? Besides Wagners questionable opinions on several topics he has written amazing music. "The Map Room" sounds a lot like Wagner imo.

 

Or maybe it's simply boring and/or overbearing to him, like to many others? 

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1 hour ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Spot on.

 

I once heard it said "There is no such thing as too long a Wagner opera; only too short an attention span."

 

I don't think its quite true: I love the Ring cycle, but for so much of the first scene of Die Walkure, I feel: "Just pull the bloody sword already!"

 

Certainly, the tone of Williams' ouvre is unlike Wagner. Just to refer back to film, think about the impossibly-dark vibe that the Siegfried's Tod gives to Excalibur, even from just the opening credits.
 
But Williams' use of leitmotives (not taken directly from Wagner, but also not without acknowleding his influence) certainly owes to the German maestro.
1 hour ago, Steve said:

Maybe Johnny is too PC to enjoy Wagners music?

 
I should hope that's not the case. I know Howard Shore, a Jew himself obviously, rather likes his Wagner.
 
I also love my Wagner, and I know a couple of other Israeli Wagnerites. Music wouldn't be what it is were it not for him.
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Williams' most Wagnerian moment comes in the rejected version of the cue 'Night Journeys' from Dracula. It's Liebestod from Tristan & Isolde (as we all know it was also a Herrmann favourite) and apart from that i'm hard-pressed to come up with *real* examples except the usual generalities.

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Its really just in his use of leitmotif.

 

His "sound" is manifestly not Wagnerian.

 

But Wagner's influence on Williams' structural choices is far from insignificant.

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3 hours ago, publicist said:

 

Or maybe it's simply boring and/or overbearing to him, like to many others? 

 

As always it's a matter of taste. However Williams' remarks regarding Wagner hint that there could be something on a non-musical level he doesn't like about him.

 

 

Maybe this is interesting for some users:

"Williams versus Wagner or an Attempt at Linking Musical Epics "

https://www.jstor.org/stable/3108403?seq=1

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8 hours ago, Thor said:

Hm. I'd love to read that.

 

It was the interview with Alex Ross:

 

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/the-force-is-still-strong-with-john-williams

 

also quoted here at the Legacy of John Williams:

 

https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/09/07/john-williams-in-vienna/

 

 

 

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Here is the excerpt from the interview with Alex Ross:

 

Talk of leitmotifs leads inevitably to the topic of Richard Wagner, with whom they are inextricably associated. Williams leaned back in his chair and smiled ruefully.

“Well, I saw the ‘Ring’ at the Hamburg Opera, years ago, and found it somewhat inaccessible, mostly because I didn’t know German,” he said. “I don’t really know the Wagner operas at all. If Mr. Hanslick were alive, I think I’d be sitting on the side of Brahms in the debate.” (The Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick campaigned for Brahms and against Wagner in the late nineteenth century.) “People say they hear Wagner in ‘Star Wars,’ and I can only think, It’s not because I put it there. Now, of course, I know that Wagner had a great influence on Korngold and all the early Hollywood composers. Wagner lives with us here—you can’t escape it. I have been in the big river swimming with all of them.”

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