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Thread: Is John Williams One of the Greatest Composers of all Time?

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Bonhomme Richard View Post
    I like John Williams a lot, but for the most part many of his scores sound nearly identical. It's gotten to the point where if you hear the first few bars of a new movie soundtrack you can tell its his immediately. Maybe he's just getting less creative in his old age.

    That being said -- Raiders March, the Star Wars theme, the Jurassic Park theme, all classics. Just as good as any other instrumental arrangement ever created.
    Appreciate the serious reply Paulie.

    I generally agree, I'd put him in amongst the best, most evocative, most emotional composers of all time, with the caveat that the day and age he works in simply does not support the long-form compositions (especially new stuff) that most of the all time greats enjoyed in their era.

    Not best ever, of course, but in the top 20, certainly.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sect313 View Post
    i prefer Danny Elfman
    His work on Clifford was absolutely brilliant.


  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Appreciate the serious reply Paulie.

    I generally agree, I'd put him in amongst the best, most evocative, most emotional composers of all time, with the caveat that the day and age he works in simply does not support the long-form compositions (especially new stuff) that most of the all time greats enjoyed in their era.

    Not best ever, of course, but in the top 20, certainly.
    After being pounded to death by Bruckner; lulled into lunacy by Bartok, I felt your post deserved a certain irreverent response - because I fell your question is a set up. The "classics" stand the test of decades and centuries; Williams pretty much has this era all to himself, with the popular movie exposure. He's a genius, but it's a set up to compare him to Zappa, even. Zappa's orchestral genius garners less than a blip in "classic" music circles; but his compositions are "superior" to Williams' in that he follows Stravinsky, Dvorak...and I would never put any modern composer up against the time tested classic repertoire.

    Completely serious about Ode to Joy; it is a classic that is sung by one million choirs each year, I'd estimate. ( )

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by WestCoastOffensive View Post
    Completely serious about Ode to Joy; it is a classic that is sung by one million choirs each year, I'd estimate. ( )
    So is "Auld Lang Syne".

    That does not mean the Beatles can not be considered one of the greatest songwriting/performing groups of all time, does it? Nor does it mean some day someone will not bec onsdiered an equal to the Beatles either.

    You think it's a set-up, I think your reply creates a number of impossabillity to achieve situations. 1 million kids (and more) most certainly know the various Star Wars theme pieces (multiple of them), at least as many who know the William tell Overture, or Ride of the Valkryes, for example. So Williams would clearly meet your "Ode to Joy" test.

    Worse, your critical of Williams because he's "alone" in this era, which isn't remotely true, nor is that his fault even if it were true. Then you bring in a popular rock muscian (Zappa) and procliam that Williams can never be considered great because of Zappa's brilliant, classical and insane progressive vision in a different genre? And I'll remind you, Zappa will never, ever, meet the "Ode to Joy" requirement either, as his music is beloved by about 42 people worldwide. A genius, with a VERY small fanbase. Disagree, play the Star Wars theme then play some Zappa to 10 random people, see who identifies and likes what first.

    As i said, I'm not trying to put Williams above Wagner here. I'm saying I'd put Williams work, given the specifics of his era, up there with those like Wagner/Bach/etc, but a step below due only to the limits of his era and length restictions.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Curious what the great unwashed masses of J.I. think on this.

    John Williams, famous of course for his endlessly great film sountracks and iconic theme music.

    Does he rank with the greatest composers of ages past?

    Does the fact that Classical Music is basicly a dead art-form today influence how you feel?

    Does the fact that he must tie his work to another medium, film, reduce or improve the quality of his art, given the restrictions that medium imposes?

    Is he not an all-time great because his work is tied to "popular" media, not in and of itself intended as stand-alone "art"?

    What do you think?
    Absolutey. William's work - I have several of his open scores (full orchestra arrangements) are as interesting, complex and masterful as any of the 'pantheon' composers.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    So is "Auld Lang Syne".

    That does not mean the Beatles can not be considered one of the greatest songwriting/performing groups of all time, does it? Nor does it mean some day someone will not bec onsdiered an equal to the Beatles either.

    You think it's a set-up, I think your reply creates a number of impossabillity to achieve situations. 1 million kids (and more) most certainly know the various Star Wars theme pieces (multiple of them), at least as many who know the William tell Overture, or Ride of the Valkryes, for example. So Williams would clearly meet your "Ode to Joy" test.

    Worse, your critical of Williams because he's "alone" in this era, which isn't remotely true, nor is that his fault even if it were true. Then you bring in a popular rock muscian (Zappa) and procliam that Williams can never be considered great because of Zappa's brilliant, classical and insane progressive vision in a different genre? And I'll remind you, Zappa will never, ever, meet the "Ode to Joy" requirement either, as his music is beloved by about 42 people worldwide. A genius, with a VERY small fanbase. Disagree, play the Star Wars theme then play some Zappa to 10 random people, see who identifies and likes what first.

    As i said, I'm not trying to put Williams above Wagner here. I'm saying I'd put Williams work, given the specifics of his era, up there with those like Wagner/Bach/etc, but a step below due only to the limits of his era and length restictions.
    lol, nice job. I haz ben eviscerated. My ideas were mushy at best; and I actually was curious to see if my foggy notions would hold water. I have come to agree with your premise.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Curious what the great unwashed masses of J.I. think on this.

    John Williams, famous of course for his endlessly great film sountracks and iconic theme music.

    Does he rank with the greatest composers of ages past?

    Does the fact that Classical Music is basicly a dead art-form today influence how you feel?

    Does the fact that he must tie his work to another medium, film, reduce or improve the quality of his art, given the restrictions that medium imposes?

    Is he not an all-time great because his work is tied to "popular" media, not in and of itself intended as stand-alone "art"?

    What do you think?
    If ripping off Gustav Holst over and over again makes one "great", then I guess hes great.

    If you like movie themes, listen to Holsts "The Planets", and you wil hear bits of every modern movie score, especially the Star Wars themes and the score from The RIght Stuff

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Jet_Engine1 View Post
    If ripping off Gustav Holst over and over again makes one "great", then I guess hes great.

    If you like movie themes, listen to Holsts "The Planets", and you wil hear bits of every modern movie score, especially the Star Wars themes and the score from The RIght Stuff
    Every artist is infuenced by those who came before.

    If that were a crime, you may as well call Led Zepplin a cover band for all the riffs and melodies they "ripped off" the acts that came before them.

    Is it then your argument that Led Zepplin is NOT one of the greatest rock bands of all time?

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Every artist is infuenced by those who came before.

    If that were a crime, you may as well call Led Zepplin a cover band for all the riffs and melodies they "ripped off" the acts that came before them.

    Is it then your argument that Led Zepplin is NOT one of the greatest rock bands of all time?
    This is a bit weak; however, few of us have the chops to challenge JetEngine's assertion directly...Steely Dan stole from many unknowns (as well as Ellington et al)...but it was never obvious (here is where the "art" lies, yes?)

    Is Williams a heavy-handed thief? Or is he an world class artist taking previous ideas to new places?

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by WestCoastOffensive View Post
    This is a bit weak; however, few of us have the chops to challenge JetEngine's assertion directly...Steely Dan stole from many unknowns (as well as Ellington et al)...but it was never obvious (here is where the "art" lies, yes?)

    Is Williams a heavy-handed thief? Or is he an world class artist taking previous ideas to new places?
    I would disagree with the weakness. Once again, no one has ever been more obvious and heavy handed than the great and mighty Led Zepplin.

    Stealing ideas, riffs, motifs from previous artists may be distatseful to some (albeit less so in the era of Hip-Hop and sampling), but there is a reasons everyone knows the Star Wars theme, and no one (I'd bet) here other than Engine has ever heard of Holsts.

    Once could similarly make arguments that a number of the other all-time greats also had contemporaries or antecendants they stole from or were influenced by, whose names have passed into general obscurity now outside the obsessive.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    I would disagree with the weakness. Once again, no one has ever been more obvious and heavy handed than the great and mighty Led Zepplin.

    Stealing ideas, riffs, motifs from previous artists may be distatseful to some (albeit less so in the era of Hip-Hop and sampling), but there is a reasons everyone knows the Star Wars theme, and no one (I'd bet) here other than Engine has ever heard of Holsts.

    Once could similarly make arguments that a number of the other all-time greats also had contemporaries or antecendants they stole from or were influenced by, whose names have passed into general obscurity now outside the obsessive.
    I...I just did that.

  12. #32
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    his sprightly work in Fitzwilly was but a harbinger of future magnum opusses.

  13. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    I would disagree with the weakness. Once again, no one has ever been more obvious and heavy handed than the great and mighty Led Zepplin.
    Make no mistake, Led Zeppelin I and II steal liberally from the classical blues repertoire. Yea and verily, those two albums also basically suck, in retrospect. There is ample, original genius to be found on their later albums, and it is those later albums on which their monolithic reputation is built.

  14. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by The Hit Stick View Post
    Make no mistake, Led Zeppelin I and II steal liberally from the classical blues repertoire. Yea and verily, those two albums also basically suck, in retrospect. There is ample, original genius to be found on their later albums, and it is those later albums on which their monolithic reputation is built.

  15. #35
    Anyone hear of someone named Basil Poledouris?


    EDIT : Guess not. Here's a hint : CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

    Can't believe no one here even knew that. Or maybe they just didn't want to comment.....

    Whatever.
    Last edited by Vin; 07-19-2013 at 10:05 PM.

  16. #36
    Yes. All the greatest sci-fi movies from the past 35 years (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ET etc) are the result of a perfect storm of talent with Spielberg, Lucas, and John Williams.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vin View Post
    Anyone hear of someone named Basil Poledouris?


    EDIT : Guess not. Here's a hint : CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

    Can't believe no one here even knew that. Or maybe they just didn't want to comment.....

    Whatever.
    Nobody wants to recognize Arnold's love child with this man. Yet, you found the time to re-set it...oh the shame! :it's-a-shame-down-dirty-shame:

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vin View Post
    Anyone hear of someone named Basil Poledouris?


    EDIT : Guess not. Here's a hint : CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

    Can't believe no one here even knew that. Or maybe they just didn't want to comment.....

    Whatever.
    Of course

    One of the most badass scores (and movies) ever.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sHDmXtW9Yx0

  19. #39
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    YOu can hear elements of pretty much every sci-fi movie score here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmk5frp6-3Q

    At 6:56, Luke Skywalker fires two proton torpedoes..

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