John Williams, the famous composer of grand, sweeping movie scores, attended Juilliard in 1955, working as a jazz pianist in New York to help supplement his Air Force pension. That was a long time before he began scoring blockbusters like Star Wars and Jurassic Park, but he calls his time in the performing arts academy a “mecca.”
Williams is 86 this year, and wants to give back to the school that shaped him. At an alumni event in Los Angeles on March 6th, 2018, he announced that he is donating his entire library of concert music and film scores to the school so that they are available for study.
“Since my earliest days as a fledgling piano student, I have looked up to The Juilliard School as the mecca for the study of music in our country and beyond,” said Williams in his speech at the alumni dinner. “It’s therefore a privilege for me to donate my sketches, papers, and scores to Juilliard, to be made available to those students particularly interested in the intimate processes of film scoring.”
Williams has scored over one hundred films, four Olympic games, countless concert pieces, and over 200 television features. He has won five Oscars and has been nominated far more than other person alive today (only Walt Disney had more). His music has also won seven British Academy Awards, five Emmys, and 24 Grammys. The entire world knows his music from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List. To have his body of work as a resource to study will do amazing things for Juilliard’s student body; there is gold to be found.
Sources didn’t say if any rights will be included in the bequest, as most film score rights are retained by the studios. There was also no mention of the financial value of this donation, though most would call it priceless.