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First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: September 30, 2014, Gustavo Dudamel conducting

About this Piece

John Williams has become an irreplaceable figure in American popular culture. He ranks as the best-known creator of movie music in Hollywood history, with themes and scores that are instantly recognizable to listeners around the world. And his growing body of music for the concert hall (including numerous concertos) has solidified his reputation as a major American composer of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

At the same time, he has held a series of close relationships with all of its executives and music directors, including—and especially—the current one, Gustavo Dudamel.

Dudamel told Variety: “I’ve admired John Williams all my life. As a kid, I was just crazy about movies and in love with all his music: Star Wars, E.T., Indiana Jones. Film composers are great musicians, great orchestrators, and for me, John is simply one of the greatest of our time. He is also a wonderful man and a wonderful friend.”

Williams has long been associated with the Olympic Games, beginning in 1984 when the Los Angeles Olympic Committee commissioned Olympic Fanfare and Theme for the Games of the XXIII Olympiad. Its regular use in television coverage of the international athletic competitions has made it the best-known of the composer’s four Olympic fanfares.

As the composer wrote in 1984: “The Olympic Games continue to fascinate and inspire us. With every presentation of the Games, we experience that complete dedication and unshakable will to persevere that typifies the goal of each competitor. The human spirit soars, and we strive for the best within us.” —Excerpted from a program note by Jon Burlingame