With 49 Academy Awards nominations and 5 Oscar wins, John Williams is the most Oscar nominated person alive. The only person with more nominations than Williams is Walt Disney, who holds a record total of 59 nominations.
At age 82, Williams is one of the most prolific movie composers in the music industry, earning his 49th Academy Award nomination this year for his original musical score to The Book Thief.
With a body of work that consists of E.T., Jaws, Schindler’s List, Star Wars, Superman, and Lincoln, Williams is the man behind the music to some of the most memorable movie themes of all time.
But how is it possible to find the inspiration not only to compose such a large volume of music, but also score diverse genres that span from science fiction to historical period pieces? Williams says he often looks to nature, “I’ve always felt there is more music in trees than anywhere else.”
After working on films that have become embedded in our cultural sub-consciousness, one scene in particular stands out as one of William’s favorites, “certainly one of my favorite scenes is that bicycle scene in E.T.”
Williams recounts working on E.T. with Steven Spielberg, “I don't think that any of the scenes that Steven and I have done in our work together were done by having the music first.” The two men huddled around a piano while Williams plunked out a rough theme note by note, before it evolved into the music that accompanied the film by a full orchestra.
Viewers connect with the scene because it became a “unique in part of our experience,” “They lift of the earth and they fly over the moon and we buy it. We just accept it.”
This Sunday John Williams looks to add a sixth Oscar to his collection. But win or lose, the Academy and moviegoers can be certain; this isn’t the last they’ve heard from John Williams.