John Williams: Borrows heavily from Gustav Holst?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Phil Florian, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    I have recently had the privilege of seeing John Williams conduct our local orchestra (Cleveland) in an evening of his music. It was a wonderful mix of movies, television (who knew that he is the writer of the never completely played Evening News theme that we hear all the time...I think on CBS or NBC) and some commissions (for a royal wedding in Japan). Loved it. No Superman, but he is forgiven for a sparkling rendition of Indiana Jones as an "encore" (Freebird!).

    But that isn't why I am writing. I was a big fan of Holst's "The Planets" from a long time ago, but re-listening to that piece (written in the early 20th century...prior/during to WWI) I am stunned at how much John Williams has borrowed or (gasp) stolen from this great piece. You can practically see the scenes in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc. that the music inspired. It made me completely re-evaluate the man as an artist. Mars: Bring of War (the first movement) has not only been cribbed by Williams, but the composer of the music for Aliens (it wasn't him, was it?) used the ending of that piece for the whole ending of the movie. Yikes!

    ...and people complain about rappers sampling music. Sheesh.


    Phil
     
  2. Haden

    Haden Supporting Actor

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    A lot of modern film scores borrow from classical music. All the great film composers draw inspiration from those sources. And of course there's occasionally film scores that borrow or blatantly use classical music in the score itself (ie. Michael Kamen's Die Hard score implementing Beethoven's 9th)
     
  3. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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  4. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Well, there is a difference between being the composer of a song, and simply reusing someone else's work as your own. I have not listened to Holst so I have no impression on this specific case (and I have always loved Williams scores).

    But let's not confuse the issue by mentioning when the actual original piece is used and credited in a score (such as Die Hard or any Kubrick film).

    Just remember Vanilla Ice and his ripping off Queen defense..."mine has an extra "dum" in there. Uh, yeah, okay.

    Without hearing Holst it would seem likely that he might be INFLUENCED by him, and thus sound similar. Of course if he directly uses excerpts without proper credit, that is not right. Is that really what has happened here or is the style similar due to influence?
     
  5. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    John Williams has repeatedly stated that as a young man, he was greatly influenced to become a composer by listening to Holst's The Planets (which I love btw) among other composers.
    John Williams music is in the same vein, but I hardly think he "sampled" or ripped off Holst in any way. IMO, he is the worlds foremost film and classical music composer.
    BTW Phil...."Whore"?? A bit harsh, no?
    Also, the composer of the music for Aliens was James Horner, whose music for this film has been used in almost every trailer or a suspense film since. And he used none of Holst's music in Aliens, although the music during the end battle sounds a bit like the Holst piece you are referring to.
     
  6. Lance Rumbolt

    Lance Rumbolt Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm sure I also read somewhere that John Williams said he was greatly influenced by Holst, in particular for the Star Wars scores.

    I agree "Holst Whore" is a little bit strong.

    Lance UK
     
  7. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Maybe one is inclined to borrow, if there is no one to pay royalties to..
     
  8. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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  9. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Hey Phil,

    I was at that show at Blossom too! Great night.

    -Vince
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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  11. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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    Try listening to the Overture to the School for Scandal, composed by Samuel Barber. It reminds me of John Williams in many ways (or I should say John Williams reminds me of it [​IMG] )
     
  12. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    I've listened to Holst's Planets many times, and I also think it's a bit strong to call Williams a Holst "whore". I can't recall any extended passages from Williams' scores that are identical to passages from the Holst piece.
    Of course, when I first heard the score from Jaws, I thought how reminiscent it was of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre Du Printemps. [​IMG]
     
  13. Robert Floto

    Robert Floto Supporting Actor

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    I believe that some of Holst's The Planets was used for temp-tracks during editing of Star Wars...if I'm not mistaken. I do know for fact that when I was working on an instructional television program in 1996 called Exploring Different Worlds, symphony conductor JoAnn Falletta actually compared William's score for Star Wars with Holst's The Planets...citing comments from Williams himself that this was his inspiration.
    At any point, I would like to mention that as for James Horner...he blatantly steals all the time...from himself!! There are entire sections of music in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan that were used in Aliens...and this is not the only instance in which he has done this...but I'll let someone else post other examples...
     
  14. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Wasn't John Williams 'Harry Potter' score basically just a reworking of his 'Hook' score?
    Ok ok a 're-imagining' of his 'Hook' score.[​IMG]
     
  15. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    I think Hans Zimmer's "Gladiator" score steals the most from Holst. That I think it is a lot worse than Williams being influenced by Holst.

    Jason
     
  16. Brian Kaz

    Brian Kaz Second Unit

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  17. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    I would think most composers of today are influenced by the great composers of the past, as well as great pieces of music from the past. Just as I imagine young composers in the future will be heavily influenced by today's composers.
     
  18. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Another piece of film music heavily influenced by Holst's "Mars, Bringer of War":
    Brian May's score for THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981, aka MAD MAX 2)
     
  19. Ben Osborne

    Ben Osborne Second Unit

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  20. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    Thanks for the mp3s Ben.[​IMG]
    I'm not the most astute observer when it comes to classical music, but I listened to both pieces of music provided by Ben. You can certainly hear some similarities. You can say Holst was inspiration for Williams. But after hearing a few people say Williams blatantly ripped off Holst, I was expecting the two to be practically identical. I would say, at least comparing these two pieces of music, that the inspiration is there, but not even close to being a ripoff. I would have to agree with Jason that parts of Zimmer's Gladiator score have far more similarity to Golst's Mars score, than William's Imperial Attack theme does.
    I can't comment on other scores, only the two pieces of music presented by Ben. But suffice it to say that all composers get inspiration from somewhere. Now, if it's a blatant ripoff, that's wrong. But similarities exist in many different pieces of music, and I would imagine a composer can come up with an original piece of music, and you could find similarities to another piece of music, if you look hard enough.
     

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