John Williams: ‘I don’t listen to my own music once the movies are done’

23 September 2019, 12:34 | Updated: 24 September 2019, 09:42

John Williams finds 'no comfort' in listening to his own compositions
John Williams finds 'no comfort' in listening to his own compositions. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

The composing legend added that he doesn’t listen to music very much at all, saying of great classical composers’ works: ‘that’s much better than anything I could write’.

Esteemed film composer John Williams has revealed he doesn’t listen to his scores once the movies are released.

Speaking in an interview for CBS Sunday Morning, Williams – who wrote the scores for Star Wars, Harry Potter, Schindler’s List and Jurassic Parksays he finds no comfort listening to his work in the final product.

“[It’s] because I’m writing music all the time,” he tells correspondent Tracy Smith. “And therefore, it’s no comfort to listen to it.”

Read more: John Williams knows how ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ ends – and says you’ll love it >

With a record 51 Oscar nominations, Williams is widely considered one of the most successful film composers of all time – but he says he “doesn’t listen to [any] music very much”.

“If you go to a dinner party, which I do rarely, and somebody has music on, I’m thinking, ‘Well, that’s in D major. And, oh, my God, the F sharp is flat.’”

He adds: “If I listen to great classical composers, I would only think, ‘That’s much better than anything I could write.’”

Does he find it comforting or inspiring to listen to the classics? (We might add here that Williams’ work is said to be influenced by the music of Wagner.)

“No,” says Williams. “It does make me think that one can always be better.”

The interview took place in Los Angeles, and at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, where the composer has a summer residence and where he conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra in August.

Williams admits he has written some of his best-received movie scores while in Tanglewood. “Its effect on me is very spiritual and very exciting,” the composer says of the Berkshires. “And I’ve written so much music here, so many film scores in this place.”

During the interview, he also speaks about his new collaborative album, Across the Stars, featuring violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter performing arrangements of some of the composer’s greatest music for film, including Harry Potter and Memoirs of a Geisha.

Watch the full interview on CBS News below.

Composer John Williams