It's John Williams.
Even if you don't listen to all the music, just scroll through this so you can see all the work he did. You'll recognize most of the music here.
This guy. Good grief, this guy is amazing. And I'm only familiar with his film work. He has a body of not film work that I know nothing about and still he's amazing. My head would probably explode from awesomeness if I knew much about his not film work.
I just got back from Jurassic Park (3D was terrible, but Jurassic Park!) so I'm on a bit of a John Williams high right now. I also watched the last 20 minutes of E.T. the other day. And listened to Empire of the Sun. I'm pretty much constantly reminded of how brilliant this man is. It would be a shame for me to not share it with all you Russian spammers who read this. (Seriously though, how is it that I get so much traffic from Russia?)
And I'm sorry (I'm so, so sorry), but most of these videos have to be watched on YouTube. It's a price I'm willing to pay to give you the versions I want. It's just one extra click, though. Don't be lazy.
I think a chronological list seems the best method for this. Let's go ahead and start with yet another Peter O'Toole movie.
Don't ask me why I'm so obsessed with Peter O'Toole lately. I've always thought he was attractive, but finding him this sexy is fairly new.
How to Steal a Million - Simon Says
I had no idea he wrote this music until I looked up all his films on Wikipedia. It sounds nothing like the John Williams I know now, but it makes sense since I always enjoyed this music. It's perfect for a 60s romcom caper. When I think of 60s romcom music, I think of this. ("Music by Johnny Williams")
Jaws - Main Title and First Victim
All the best film theme songs belong to John Williams. Those two notes... So simple, yet the perfect sound to create tension, anxiety, and fear.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - Main Theme
Seriously. Man, seriously!
Superman: The Movie - Main Theme
The man is a god when it comes to writing a heroic fanfare (and the woodwind runs are super fun to play). I think it wise that this theme won't be used in Man of Steel (it won't be as far as I know, at least) and I am looking forward to seeing what Hans Zimmer comes up with, but I doubt it will compare with this.
1941 - The March from 1941
I haven't seen this movie and this is the only song I know from it, but this was probably the funnest march I ever played. Marches were not usually my favorite, but I loved this one.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - The Imperial March
I know this is cheating because the Main Theme and the Imperial March are in all three films, but the Imperial March is more prominent in The Empire Strikes Back and I may enjoy this more than the Main Theme. It's just too good not to include.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (and all the Indiana Jones films) - The Raiders March (aka The Indiana Jones Theme)
This was another fun one to play. I think at some point my junior high or high school band did a John Williams medley. Anyway, if you didn't know much about film music, are you in love with John Williams yet? I want to have a John Williams marathon now... Although it would probably just end up being a Steven Spielberg marathon. I wouldn't mind that either.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - Closing Credits
The strings playing the main theme still gives me chills. Doesn't matter what context I'm listening to it in, and I haven't seen this movie all the way through in about 18 years. A YouTube commenter said this is what God plays when you die and go to Heaven and I'm inclined to agree.
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - Ewok Celebration
For two reasons. First, I couldn't resist. Second, I get happy whenever I see this end sequence without Hayden Christensen's stupid face.
Empire of the Sun - Cadillac of the Skies
If you've seen this movie, we should be friends if we aren't already. If you haven't, you should watch it. Unless you hate sad things or WWII. Still though, give it a shot. It's got a 12 year old Christian Bale, a crazy young Ben Stiller with maybe two lines, and an always brilliant John Malkovich.
This entire soundtrack is amazing. One of my favorites. This song gives you a sense of the majesty, the fear, and the longing in this film.
Hook - The Ultimate War
Love or hate this movie, it's got a great soundtrack. This particular song is my favorite because I can see the entire thing play out as I listen. That's what a good score does. Or maybe that's what watching a movie countless times as a child does. This one is just fun though. It adds together a lot of the themes from the whole movie and it takes me back to being a kid.
Jurassic Park - Theme From Jurassic Park
Okay. I know I say I love a lot of things. I know I've said in this and other posts that certain songs or soundtracks are among my favorite. Throw all that out. Nothing, no film theme or individual piece can compare with this one. If I wasn't going chronologically I'd save this for last because it's the best. This piece has never failed to give me chills all over my body and make me tear up. Without fail, every time. I'm sure it's tied with my childhood, but so are a lot of things that don't get me emotional like this does. Forget film scores, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard.
Schindler's List - Theme From Schindler's List
And of course, right after Jurassic Park, he writes a song that floods sorrow into my body.
Sabrina - Theme From Sabrina
There was a lot of music in this movie that John Williams didn't write, but I've always loved this song so I wanted to include it. Cause it's pretty.
Seven Years in Tibet - Leaving Ingrid
Another one of my favorite movies of all time. It's about the Chinese invasion and destruction of Tibet so of course it's super depressing. It changes my life a little every time I watch it. The music is perfectly attune to the feel of the movie. Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello solos in this soundtrack and it's perfect.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - End Credits
I'm not a huge fan of these movies. However, John Williams did a great job with the music for the first three. Not sure who did the others... It's not one of those soundtracks that I would listen to just for kicks, but it is one of those soundtracks that punches you in the face with perfection when you watch the movies.
Catch Me If You Can - Catch Me If You Can
Knowing now that he composed for actual 60s movies, it makes sense that he'd do such a good job scoring for a modern movie set in the 60s. Plus this song sounds like secrets. My favorite thing about this is the vibraphone. I do love a good vibraphone.
Memoires of a Geisha - The Chairman's Waltz
Again, cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma on this soundtrack. It's like they run in the same super famous musician circles or something. And again, a fantastic film. There isn't a lot of particularly Japanese sounding music in this score, but there aren't a lot of Japanese actors in the movie either...
The Adventures of Tintin - The Adventures of Tintin
I'm now noticing the similarities between this and Catch Me If You Can. Tintin just has a bit more whimsy. Also I totally want to play this clarinet solo.
Lincoln - The People's House
All through this movie I kept thinking about how phenomenal the music (and the movie) was and I was not even a little bit surprised to see at the end John Williams' name in the credits.
One of the best things about his music (as my dad just pointed out) is he doesn't just write movie scores. Most of his music can be played as an orchestral piece at the symphony and it wouldn't sound like a movie.
I'm going to be super sad when he dies.