Imagine the opening of Star Wars without all the fanfare; or, Jurassic Park without the triumphant clamor as the museum's huge banner falls on T-Rex.
What about Harry Potter without Hedwig's theme, or Jaws without the haunting shark melody made with two alternating notes?
These films and other classics would not have been the same without John Williams, perhaps one of the greatest composers America has ever produced.
Williams' hardware includes five Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, 20 Grammys and six BAFTAs. In 2005, the American Film Institute issued its 100 Years of Film Scores list, with Williams appearing three times on the top 25. He also holds the record for having the most Oscar nominations for a living person, with 47 to date (the late Walt Disney's record is at 59 nominations).
Williams was born 80 years ago today in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York. And he's still working away, scoring films (mostly for Steven Spielberg) and receiving award nominations. Williams' latest? Two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score this year. He is up against himself for the scores from The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, both Spielberg pictures, along with scores from The Artist, Hugo and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
In 2009, Williams spoke about his lifelong relationship with Spielberg and his films.
Part of the answer about the permanence of our relationship has to be the fact that he loves music and is interested in it. I have to say that one of the greatest good pieces of good fortune in my life has been meeting Steven Spielberg and having a relationship with him that's been so harmonius and so productive for such a long time, Williams said on Thirteen's Great Performances.
In honor of Williams' 80th birthday, we bring you his 10 best film scores of all time (in chronological order).
Star Wars (1977)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Home Alone (1990)
Schindler's List (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
BONUS: Star Wars: Imperial March (1980)