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John Williams’s Film Music
Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Return of the Classical Hollywood Music Style
Emilio Audissino

Best Special Interest Books, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers

Wisconsin Film Studies
Patrick McGilligan, Series Editor

“A much-needed work that captures the spirit and thinking of John Williams. Audissino is to be applauded for taking on such a large musical figure and for presenting him in the most wide-ranging manner. One gets the impression that he has tracked down every significant fact on Mr. Williams.”
—Vincent LoBrutto, author of Sound-On-Film

John Williams is one of the most renowned film composers in history. He has penned unforgettable scores for Star Wars, the Indiana Jones series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Superman, and countless other films. Fans flock to his many concerts, and with forty-nine Academy Award nominations as of 2014, he is the second-most Oscar-nominated person after Walt Disney. Yet despite such critical acclaim and prestige, this is the first book in English on Williams’s work and career.

Combining accessible writing with thorough scholarship, and rigorous historical accounts with insightful readings, John Williams’s Film Music explores why Williams is so important to the history of film music. Beginning with an overview of music from Hollywood’s Golden Age (1933–58), Emilio Audissino traces the turning points of Williams’s career and articulates how he revived the classical Hollywood musical style. This book charts each landmark of this musical restoration, with special attention to the scores for Jaws and Star Wars, Williams’s work as conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, and a full film/music analysis of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The result is a precise, enlightening definition of Williams’s “neoclassicism” and a grounded demonstration of his lasting importance, for both his compositions and his historical role in restoring part of the Hollywood tradition.


Emilio Audissino Emilio Audissino is a researcher at the University of Southampton, UK. He holds a PhD from the University of Pisa and has published many articles on Hollywood cinema, film style, and film music. Both his MA and PhD theses treated John Williams’s film music.





“An in-depth examination of how the legendary film composer restored the classical Hollywood music style and became a pivotal figure [in] the history of film music.”
Publishers Weekly

“So whether you're at all interested in film scores—their history, their changing styles, their reception over the years—or in the music of John Williams in particular, you will find much to enjoy in this new book.”
Film Music Notes

“Highly recommended. An excellent book, with many, many insights not only into the music of John Williams but also the state of film scoring today—its aesthetics, the reasons film music today is such a departure from film music of the past, not to mention a real appreciation of the craft and art of John Williams and his milieu, who are often reviled by esthetes as being ‘too commercial.’ It is a pleasure to read a book that tries to capture not only the genius of John Williams, but his professionalism as well.”
—Conrad Pope, film composer (My Week with Marilyn) and orchestrator (Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

“A compelling, well-researched investigation of John Williams’s role in the Hollywood film music industry. . . . Audissino’s ability to address both film and music scholars in one accessible and engaging text is one of the study’s greatest strengths.”
Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association

“Emilio Audissino should be commended for his passion and research of such a stellar composer as John Williams.”
—Larry Timm, author of The Soul of Cinema: An Appreciation of Film Music



Additional Resources

Listen to Audissino's interviews on WCRB here and on WPR here.

See also this review in the Italian film-music magazine Colonne Sonore. (In Italian)



Publicity and Press Kit Resources

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Johnn William's Film Music

June 2014
LC: 2013033116 ML
346 pp.   6 x 9
12 b/w photos
10 b/w illustrations  

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Paper $29.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29734-3
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