Composer John Williams on CBS News Sunday Morning (2019)


[music: ‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial’ motion picture score]>>Announcer: It’s the new season on Sunday Morning, and here again is Jane Pauley.>>Jane Pauley: The 1982 film E.T. is a classic. In no small part, thanks to its score by legendary composer John Williams. Tracy Smith had a chat with him at his favorite summer spot. [music: ‘Indiana Jones’ motion picture score]>>Tracy Smith: In the hills of Western Massachusetts, the midsummer breeze carries the scent of honeysuckle and the sound of genius. [music: ‘Indiana Jones’ motion picture score] This is Tanglewood, the summer home of
the Boston Symphony Orchestra and of its best known artist in residence, John
Williams. [music: ‘Indiana Jones’ motion picture score] The maestro actually lives in Los Angeles, but he says Tanglewood is where he’s
done some of his best work.>>John Williams: This effect on me is very spiritually very exciting and I’ve written so much music here. So many films scores in this place.
>>Smith: Here?
>>Williams: Right here, I come every summer.>>Smith: Can you drop some names the scores you wrote here?>>Williams: Star Wars films, and Indiana Jones, and Schindler’s List, Harry Potter a great percentage of that work done physically here. (crowd applause)>>Smith: And what astonishing work it is. [music: ‘Star Wars’ motion picture score] John Williams is the most honored movie
composer of all-time. With five Academy Awards so far, and he has fifty-one Oscar nominations, more than any other living person only Walt Disney has more. I know you’re a very modest man. But do you ever allow yourself that moment to step back
and say, “Wow, look what I’ve done?”>>Williams: Tracy I’ll be completely honest with you, it’s very hard for me to take complete pleasure in anything that I’ve made. You
can love it, you could love it all but you can always see things that could be
improved. I wish I could had I had the kind of personality I can see “aaww this is fantastic”, but I don’t think is that in the art of music, I don’t think there’s any place
for that kind of vanity. I don’t know who else could who could possibly feel that
way, given the the shoulders we stand on.>>Smith: But your shoulders are pretty broad and strong at this point. You’re part of that foundation now.>>Williams: I couldn’t get into the NFL. (laughter)>>Smith: Maybe not, but what John Williams does takes a different kind of muscle.>>Williams: So I’ve now been coming here for 39 years every summer. Delightful, happily conducting the orchestra. We feel each year and it’s a
big part of my life and the perfect antidote to the Hollywood activities
that I do the rest of the year. So it keeps me, maybe not young but hopefully a little fresh. (Smith laughs)>>Smith: Fresh indeed. [music: ‘Schindler’s List’ motion picture score] Williams has recently reworked some of his movie music for violin, specifically, her violin. [music: ‘Schindler’s List’ motion picture score] Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of the greatest
violinists ever to pick up a bow. Watching you, you seem so I mean it just
like this music was made for you but I’m wondering what’s going through your head and heart as you’re…>>Mutter: Actually extremely emotional for me because as I know John’s music since my childhood. Then meeting the person behind the music and working together with his genius is is an incredibly humbling and elevating
experience.>>Smith: I forget that he’s 87 years old.
>>Mutter: Yep.>>Smith: Holy Moly.
>>Mutter: He’s wearing us all out. (laugher) [music: ‘Schindler’s List’ motion picture score]>>Smith: So how’d she get someone like John Williams to write music, just for her? The truth is, connections and Christmas
cookies. Anne-Sophie first met Williams through her then-husband
the great Andre Previn.>>Williams: She said to me, “John, write something for me, even if it is only ten bars.” Which means ten measures of music, of just a little half page. And so I went home and I didn’t think too much about and Christmas came, and a big box of Christmas cookies came from Munich from Anne-Sophie. And I thought oh my god, now I have to write the ten measures of music. (laugher)>>Smith: He did, and then she asked him to rewrite
some of his movie themes for her, but he didn’t say yes, right away. So your initial reaction was… I don’t think I can?>>Williams: I thought what could what do I have that could be adaptable for violin and orchestra. But I will tell you what I’ve said to many people, that Anne-Sophie is many things. She’s a
great artist and a great woman one thing she is not, is a woman you can
say no to.>>Smith: Long story short, they made beautiful music together enough for an album “Across the Stars”, truth is you just haven’t heard the Harry Potter theme
until you’ve heard it on a Stradivarius. [music: ‘Harry Potter’ motion picture score]>>Williams: This fabulous instrument. When you think about Strads I mean how what is it three four hundred years old.
>>Smith: How old is it? Mutter: awww, it’s born in 1710.
>>Williams: 1710, with all of our technology and fussing around, this odd-looking little
wooden box you know it has a shape. Who would imagine such a thing cannot be improved upon. [music: ‘Harry Potter’ motion picture score]>>Smith: Do you listen to the film scores once they’re in the movies once they’re out there?>>Williams: No,
>>Smith: No, why not?>>Williams: Because I’m writing music all the time Tracy and therefore it’s no comfort to listen to it. I don’t listen to music very much.
>>Smith: At all?>>Williams: I think if you go to a dinner party which I do rarely and somebody has music on I’m thinking well that’s in D major and oh my god the
F sharp is flat. If I listen to the great classical composers, I would only think
that’s much better than anything I could write. It isn’t comforting.
>>Smith: It’s not inspiring it’s not comforting. (laughing)>>Williams: It makes me, it does make me think that one can always be better.>>Richard Attenborough/John Hammond: Welcome to Jurassic Park.>>Smith: It could be argued that film composing doesn’t get any better than the work he’s done with director Steven Spielberg. [music: ‘Jurassic Park’ motion picture score] [sfx: dinosaur sound] To date, Williams has scored all but three of Spielberg’s feature films including 1993’s Schindler’s List. [music: ‘Schindler’s List’ motion picture score]>>Ben Kingsley/Itzhak Stern: It’s Hebrew, it’s from the Talmud. It says, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”>>Smith: When he first showed you Schindler’s, what did you say?>>Williams: And that was like I don’t ball, but I could really cause I was choked up, and I said Steven I just have to
leave the room, and I went outside and walked around collected myself and back in
and to start the meeting, and this is just about verbatim, I said, “Steven you
this is a great film and you really need a better composer than I am for this
film.” And he said, “I know, but they’re all dead.” So that was so I went on to become the “live” composer. (laughing)>>Smith: Like the movie, the musical score is itself a classic. Telling the story as no words ever could. [music: ‘Schindler’s List’ motion picture score] Writing it, Williams says, took everything
he had. How all-consuming is your work when you
are composing?>>Willians: It’s a great privilege to be able to work it the way I work, but it is so intense that you neglect things. You can neglect people, you can reflect
family, I have wonderful children, my late wife is gone, but present wife is very
happy. But it does so consume your life this work which it really shouldn’t. A
lot of the work that I do is certainly not that important. But the process of doing it is is so all-consuming just suggestion word you
use. That that is the truth of it it’s a it’s this this sometime thing. It’s a
full-time thing. [music: ‘Superman’ motion picture score]>>Mutter: This is so cool. It’s just…>>Smith: It really is so cool. Right now the maestro has a few other projects in the works, and he might not appear on stage
as often as he or his fans might want. [music: ‘Superman’ motion picture score] But somehow when John Williams is
conducting [music: ‘Superman’ motion picture score] the music you’ve heard a thousand times, can suddenly give you goosebumps again. [music: ‘Superman’ motion picture score]

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