I always look forward to the Olympics - summer or winter. I really like the competition, the representation of so many nations, and even the cheesy commentary. I love the music. Some of my favorite music appears during the Olympics thanks the the limitless talents of John Williams. His immediately recognizable tunes make it easy for networks to excerpt small segments of his Olympic music. We will hear portions of these pieces as we go to and return from commercials.
Williams has the ability to write motives and melodies that immediately convey an archetype. It can be Superman, Darth Vader, an alien's relation with a child, a shark, a heroic archeologist, the tragedies and triumphs of World War II, the magic of Hogwarts, or the nightly news. I have heard interviews with Williams where he discusses how labor intensive it is to craft these melodies. The end result of that work is a musical logo or aural icon that has a sense of inevitability to it. The more we listen and ingrain those associations, the more concrete the association becomes.
Williams is 89 years old and I am keenly aware that his last new composition or film score could be at any time. I pray he is blessed with many more years and the energy to write more!
Hopefully, we will hear some of the Olympics works in full.
If not, you can enjoy them here.
The "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" was written for the 1984 summer olympics in Los Angeles. Williams received a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition.
In 1988 he wrote "The Olympic Spirit" for the summer olympics in Seoul. It was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition.
In commemoration of the Centennial of the Modern Olympic Games Williams wrote "Summon the Heroes" for the summer olympics in Atlanta (1996). This theme is used heavily by NBC for intros and outros to commercial breaks.
"Call of the Champions" is a fanfare for orchestra and choir composed for the 2000 winter olympics in Salt Lake City. It opens with the choir singing "Citius! Altius! Fortius!" (Faster, Higher, Stronger), which is the Olympic Motto chosen by the founder of the modern Games.
Anthony is the Director of Worship and Communications at Arden Presbyterian Church in NC.
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