As I was wondering what to write about here last week, John Williams kept popping up into my head. After he was brought up in class I decided to sort of further my thoughts on him, his music and some other things that came to mind.
The main point of this point is to dwell on a different rift than the one that we talked about last week between "classical musicians and the rest of the world." Something that intrigues me very much is how we as musicians separate ourselves from each other. Many musicians seem to think that it is a horrible decision to do film music and those that do it aren't true classical musicians and they tend to be pigeon holed as such.
This sort of brings me to Williams. He is most well known for his film scores that have won award after award, but he is also exiled in the mind of many people for doing this. They look at his music and see how he incorporates ideas from "true" classical composers and they ridicule him for this. He is known as a rip off artist who cannot compose his own music.
But how many composers use ideas from previous composers as a little joke, as a sort of dedication to that composer, or simply because they happen to like that one idea a lot. Just about every composer does it at one point or another in there career. So how come Williams seems to be one of the few who gets called unoriginal for that? It's not his fault that George Lucas originally wanted Holst's The Planets for Star Wars but that it didn't fit well with the film so he had Williams write something that had the same sound. As to other pieces, I cannot say for certain how much he uses from other composers. I have not studies scores for all of those pieces so I should not pass judgment one way or the other.
Another quick factor that people quite often overlook is how accomplished a composer he is outside of his film music. He has written 30 something other pieces, he studied at UCLA and Julliard, studied under notable composers, in a notable conductor and so on. These are some pretty good credentials for a hack that can't write his own music.
I'm curious as to what you think about how classical musicians cast off fellow musicians who cross over into another realm of more popular music?