‘Music of John Williams,’ Oscar-winning composer, honored by New York Pops performance

There might be no film composer more famous than John Williams, who has crafted iconic, instantly recognizable music for some of the most popular movies ever.

In just a few bars, you could feel the wonder of a galaxy far, far away or the menace of a great white shark.

Many of Williams’ most well-known works are in the films of Steven Spielberg, and the New York Pops will be honoring that fruitful collaboration in “The Music of John Williams: From Spielberg to ‘Star Wars’” at Carnegie Hall on Friday.

“John Williams, I think, is the greatest American film composer we have and one of the greatest that’s ever lived,” said Steven Reineke, music director and conductor of the Pops.

amNewYork spoke to Reineke about the show.


Do you have a favorite score he’s done?

Hmm, you know, “E.T.” might be one of my all-time favorite movie scores of John’s. There’s so much good material out there.


What is it about that that strikes you?

I think it’s a combination of the film itself and maybe the age I was at when that came out. Also, learning and studying that music for so many years now, that score has this magical power to it, it has elevated that movie to a whole different status of what that film would be without that music.


How do these songs differ disconnected from the visual element?

It’s one of the ways that John Williams is so incredibly successful and why Steven Spielberg loves John Williams and continues to want to work with him. John has a way to capture the visual element of the film, and the feelings, the emotions … and transfer that into music. So when you take the music out of the film and play it on a concert stage with no visuals and just listen to it, it takes you right back to that film and what it’s about — you can picture it in your mind.


What’s planned for the Carnegie Hall event?

This is a celebration of the collaboration between Steven Spielberg and John Williams, which goes back to 1974. We won’t be playing music from that (that was “The Sugarland Express”), but the very next year, 1975, was Spielberg’s second movie, “Jaws,” which won an Academy Award for John Williams. So they’ve been associated together for quite some time. … [It’s] starting in 1975 with “Jaws” and then a number of films chronologically all the way up through “Lincoln” in 2012.


Where does “Star Wars” come into the equation?

Then the finale of the concert, the last 25 minutes or so, I wanted to get in new music from “Star Wars,” which of course is not Spielberg. But the brand new music from “The Force Awakens” got John Williams his 50th Academy Award nomination. It just became available in the last [few] weeks. I knew it was just coming out, and I thought, “Oh, I want to be one of first orchestras to play this new music from ‘The Force Awakens.’ That’s why we’re calling it “From Spielberg to ‘Star Wars.’”

If you go

“The Music of John WIlliams: From Spielberg to ‘Star Wars’” is at Carnegie Hall on April 8 at 8 p.m. 881 Seventh Ave., 212-247-7800, $25-$132