John Williams turns 90: Here are 5 of the most incredible live performances of his music

08 February 2022
By Ellie Palmer
The composer and pianist is responsible for some of the greatest film scores of the 20th century including the Star Wars saga, Jaws, E.T, Superman, Indiana Jones and more. We take a look at some of the most spectacular live performances of his hit compositions

Theme from Jurassic Park

This theme has one of those melodies that is just unforgettable. It's one of the most well-known melodies in cinematic history. 

Here, he conducts the Vienna Philharmonic at Vienna’s Musikverein in January 2020 – which was also the first performance Williams had ever conducted in continental Europe.



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Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Another one of Williams's most loved film scores; this time conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra at Boston's Symphony Hall. Whilst the video doesn't specify which year this was filmed, it's likely from 2004 – the same year the orchestra released an album in collaboration with Williams.



Schindler's List

This is some story. 

According to the video's caption, the cor anglais player in this beautiful performance was Davida Scheffers. "She has lived her dream in winning a contest and the opportunity to play with the Dutch Orchestra. Davida suffers from an extremely painful neuromuscular condition that derailed her career, and she thought she would never get to play in a professional orchestra again."

Around the 3'23 mark, Scheffers begins to tear up as violinist Simone Lamsma plays. She's given a huge round of applause at the end of the performance. What a beautiful moment.



'Main Title' from Star Wars: A New Hope

John Williams & Vienna Philharmonic are a match made in heaven, as we've already seen in their performance together of Jurassic Park earlier in this article.

This video, taken from the same event in 2020, features the award-winning main theme of the fourth Star Wars film (1977). The American Film Institute ranks the film's soundtrack as the number one best film score in history.

An extra shout out goes to StanisÅ‚aw Moniuszko School of Music Symphony Orchestra, who gave a rousing performance of excerpts of the score at the Polish Nationwide Music Schools' Symphonic Orchestras Competition back in 2015. You can watch their performance below.



'Hedwig's Theme' from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Most of us know how iconic this score is; the celesta solo right at the start, the jittery violins, the staccato horns. All play their part in this masterpiece. 

This performance features Ensemble Symphonique Neuchâtel, based in Switzerland. It's unclear when or where this performance took place, but they certainly put on a show.

Main image: ©YouTube