John Williams

Laureate Conductor

In January 1980 John Williams was named 19th Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra since its founding in 1885. He assumed the title of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor following his retirement in December 1993 and currently holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood.


Born in New York, Mr. Williams attended UCLA, studied composition privately with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and attended the Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Madame Rosina Lhévinne. He worked as a jazz pianist before beginning his career in the film studios, where he worked with such composers as Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, and Franz Waxman. He went on to write music for many television programs in the 1960s, winning two Emmy awards for his work at that time. John Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films, including Munich, Memoirs of a Geisha, War of the Worlds, all six films in the Star Wars series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Terminal, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Patriot, Angela’s Ashes, Stepmom, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, The Lost World, Rosewood, Sleepers, Nixon, Sabrina, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Home Alone 2, Far and Away, JFK, Hook, Home Alone, Presumed Innocent, Born on the Fourth of July, the three Indiana Jones films, The Accidental Tourist, Empire of the Sun, The Witches of Eastwick, E.T. (the Extra-Terrestrial), Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.


 Mr. Williams has received 45 Academy Award nominations, making him the Academy’s most nominated living person, and has been awarded five Oscars, seven British Academy Awards, twenty Grammys, four Emmys, and four Golden Globes, as well as several gold and platinum records. He served as Grand Marshal of the 2004 Tournament of Roses parade and was a 2004 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.

In addition to his film music, Mr. Williams has written many concert pieces, including two symphonies, and concertos for bassoon, cello, flute, violin, clarinet, tuba, and trumpet. His Soundings was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the opening of Disney Hall in October 2003, and his Horn Concerto was premiered in November 2003 by the Chicago Symphony and its principal horn Dale Clevenger. He composed Call of the Champions for the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the NBC News theme “The Mission,” “Liberty Fanfare,” composed for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, “We’re Lookin’ Good!,” composed for the Special Olympics in celebration of the 1987 International Summer Games, the themes for the 1984, 1988, and 1996 Summer Olympic games, and Tributes! (for Seiji), honoring Seiji Ozawa’s 25th anniversary as BSO music director. Many of Mr. Williams’s film scores have been released as recordings; the soundtrack album to Star Wars has sold more than four million copies.


He has also led a highly acclaimed series of albums with the Boston Pops Orchestra on Philips and Sony Classical. Mr. Williams has led both the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra on tour. He has conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra both at Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood and has appeared as guest conductor with many orchestras. With the BSO and violinist Gil Shaham, Mr. Williams has recorded his Violin Concerto, TreeSong, and Three Pieces from Schindler’s List for Deutsche Grammophon.