If you ever hummed a dramatic theme while removing a spider from the bathroom on behalf of a shrieking spouse, chances are it was written by John Williams.
Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, Jaws, and Jurassic Park. Be honest. You cold hum any one of those themes right now. Upon hearing William's name, other film composers pack up their stuff and shuffle toward the door dejectedly. Williams has been responsible for some of the most recognisable themes heard in cinema, those that get used in parodies, and commercials, they're so intrinsically linked to the spirit of each film, they come to be regarded as a shorthand for it, and even themes within those movies.
How many times have you heard the Jaws theme, dubbed over something other than the original movie. It's become the accepted euphamism for a silent, stalking predator. The Indiana Jones them over any sort of swashbuckling Boy's Own adventure?
William's profilific output is partially due to the length of time he's been working in Hollywood. During his mid twenties, he played as a pianist on to soundtracks of movies such as "South Pacific," "Some Like It Hot" and "To Kill A Mockingbird." But most of his popularity stems from his work with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. He wrote the scores for all but three of Steven Spielberg's films. Duel, The Color Purple, and the Goonies were scored by...?
- For the sake of fairness, they were composed by Billy Goldenberg, Quincy Jones and Dave Gusin respectively. Quincy kind of screws up the point I was trying to make there, by being another hugely popular, legendary composer- but I'll let it slide, seeing as it's Quincy.
In summary then, John Williams is about the most profilic, widely known, and critically acclaimed film composers of the last century. On the other hand, he is also the conductor of the Boston Pops, making him largely responsible for whatever you heard in the dentist's office last time you were having a root canal.