Alex Ross, author, of course, of The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, reminds us that composer John Williams turns 80 today. It was Williams's "dazzling, polystylistic score" for Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) that "was my introduction to the sounds of the twentieth century." Ross was nine at the time. "Williams deserves praise not only for writing a pile of splendid scores — Close Encounters remains, I think, his finest work — but for sustaining the tradition of orchestral film music at a time when synthesizers and pop-song montages threatened to put it out of business."
Noting that Williams has been nominated for 47 Oscars, winning five, WANE posts clips featuring "five of his must-listen movie score moments and some of his reflections on writing them." For what it's worth, I'm not sure what WANE is, either, but this is a nice little collection. Blogging for the HoustonPress, Craig Hlavaty picks the "10 Most Iconic John Williams Scores Ever," and yes, he's got clips, too, but the comments on them are his own, not Williams's.
"Williams will be back at the Oscars later this month," notes Movieline's ST VanAirsdale, "a double-nominee for both War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin — neither of which I'd put anywhere near the guy's 10 best scores. Star Wars, Jaws, Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark are iconic, obvious options for that distinction, though I'll take Williams's partnership with Oliver Stone to block — and the sweeping, churning, shocking and utterly evocative JFK for the win." And he's got a clip.
For more linkage, see the John Williams Fan Network — they're going wild today.