Happy (Belated) Birthday, Maestro Williams!
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, five-time Oscar-winning composer/conductor John Williams celebrated his 91st birthday last Wednesday. Williams, whose 53 Academy Award nominations make him second only to Walt Disney as the individual with the most Oscar nominations in the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), earned his most recent one for his score for Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, a fictionalized autobiographical film that explores Spielberg’s family life as a precocious youth who falls in love with movies and moviemaking in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.
(I briefly considered buying the original soundtrack from The Fabelmans, but my current financial situation is, shall we say, precarious, so I’ll put it on my birthday wish list instead.)
If you know me well – either because we know each other “in real life” or because you’re a Constant Reader of this blog – you are doubtlessly aware that Maestro Williams is my favorite composer of film music. I have many albums with the byline “Music Composed and Conducted by John Williams,” as well as several “cover albums” which feature performances of his scores recorded by orchestras led by other conductors, including Charles Gerhardt, Kevin Griffiths, Gustavo Dudamel, and Varujan Kojian.
Last year, Williams said that he would retire from writing film scores after completing the music for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – which will be released on June 30 by Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios – to concentrate on writing more classical music compositions. However, earlier this year, Maestro Williams changed his mind.
In a January 13, 2023 article in the Hollywood Reporter, Williams rescinded his comment about retirement at a Beverly Hills event showcasing his latest collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans:
“Steven is a lot of things,” Williams said in response to a question from veteran music journalist Jon Burlingame about packing it in. “He’s a director, he’s a producer, he’s a studio head, he’s a writer, he’s a philanthropist, he’s an educator. One thing he isn’t is a man you can say ‘no’ to.” After an eruption of applause from the audience, Williams noted that he knew Spielberg’s late father, Arnold, who worked at Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation until he was 100. “So I’ve got 10 more years to go. I’ll stick around for a while!” He added, “Also, you can’t ‘retire’ from music. It’s like breathing. It’s your life. It’s my life. A day without music is a mistake.”
So, happy belated birthday, Maestro. I look forward to hearing your score for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, as well as any future scores you compose for Steven Spielberg and other filmmakers!
Regarding The Fabelmans on Blu-ray
Speaking of The Fabelmans….
The Oscar-nominated (seven nominations: Best Picture, Best Director – Steven Spielberg, Best Actress – Michelle Williams, Best Supporting Actor – Judd Hirsch, Best Original Screenplay -Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Best Original Score – John Williams, Best Production Design – Rick Carter and Karen O’Hara) will be released on physical media tomorrow by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Amazon, perhaps hedging its bets on product availability and the ever-present logistical logjam created by a pandemic and a major war in Europe, informs me that I can expect to receive my pre-ordered copy next week (on Tuesday the 21st).
I can, of course, live with that. I’ve had to accept delays in shipments for the past two years, and I can still remember when orders from Amazon used to take up to a week because the e-retailer did not have warehouses or distribution centers in most of the 50 states. As recently as 2014, Amazon did not have any locations in South Florida (my previous place of residence), and even after I signed up with Amazon Prime when it was introduced, there was no such thing as one or two-day delivery unless you paid extra for rush delivery.
And yet, I keep on checking my email account to see a “Your Amazon order of The Fabelmans has shipped!” message, with an ETA of tomorrow by 10 PM.
Patience, it seems, is not one of my best personality traits.
Oh, well. I’ll get the damn 4K UHD/2K HD Blu-ray/Digital Copy multi-format set when it gets here.
 Steven Spielberg and John Williams Reflect on 50-Year Collaboration — and Williams Walks Back Retirement Plans, The Hollywood Reporter, January 13, 2023.
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