Composer John Williams to Receive the 44th AFI Life Achievement Award – American Film Institute


Composer John Williams to Receive the 44th AFI Life Achievement Award

For the first time in AFI history, America’s highest honor for a career in film will be bestowed upon a composer. John Williams will receive the 44th AFI Life Achievement Award in 2016.

“John Williams has written the soundtrack to our lives,” said Sir Howard Stringer, Chair, AFI Board of Trustees. “Note by note, through chord and chorus, his genius for marrying music with movies has elevated the art form to symphonic levels and inspired generations of audiences to be enriched by the magic of the movies. AFI is proud to present him with its 44th Life Achievement Award.”

John Williams’ storied career as the composer behind many of the greatest American films and television series of all time boasts over 150 credits across seven decades. Perhaps best known for his enduring collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, his scores are among the most iconic and recognizable in film history, from the edge-of-your-seat JAWS (1975) motif to the emotional swell of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) and the haunting elegies of SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993). Always epic in scale, his music has helped define over half a century of the motion picture medium. Three of Williams’ scores landed on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores — a list of the 25 greatest American film scores of all time — including the unforgettable STAR WARS (1977) soundtrack, at number one. With five Academy Award® wins and 49 nominations in total, Williams holds the record for the most Oscar® nominations of any living person.

Williams will be honored at a Gala Tribute on June 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. The televised special, AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: A TRIBUTE TO JOHN WILLIAMS, will air on TNT on June 15 at 10:00 p.m. (ET/ PT), followed by an encore presentation on sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on September 12 during a night of programming dedicated to John Williams.

In the clip below, watch Williams at the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to George Lucas in 2005.

Comments (19)


About time!


    I just love how John Williams creates the perfect music for all his movie scores. One of my favorites is the score in ET when the boys begin to fly through the air. It always makes me cry no matter how many times I see it.

    And then there is the music for Star Wars, the Indiana Jones series, Close Encounters … I could go on and on about this great man. He deserves to receive AFI’s top honor!

John Reed

I recommended John Williams to the AFI Team 3 years ago and finally the time has come. The AFI has now entered new level of greatness.

Denise Higgins

A truly gifted man whose music is engrained in our soul. Bravo maestro!

Tracy Glen Murray

Finally! The time has come to honor Mr. Williams. I have been a fan of his music for over 40 years now, and I am thrilled that he will finally get the recognition that he so greatly deserves! Thank you AFI!

Alejandro Mayer

No one has done more to enrich film music than JW! Its about time, his just missing the star on the Hollywood walk of fame, hope that comes too!


AT LAST!!!!! Congratulations, maestro!!


john williams deserves the award others have not deserved it but the afi feels obligated to give an award every year therefore diluting the process steve martin warren beaty have had good careers there not giants of the industry this award has lost alot of its prestige beacuse of giving an annual awaed is nothing sacred

Kinopanorama Widescreen Preservation Association, Inc.

It is about time that John Williams has been granted a much deserved honour.


It is great to hear John Williams is getting this great honor. It is about time! His scores define generations of movie watching. I have been a fan for over 30 years.

Oreste...Silk City Films

And yet we forget Kubrick, Hackman, Duval and Paul Newman!


    One composer in 44 years get award and you complain? Spielberg said the music was worth at least 25% of the success of his films, and most of that was Williams, not to mention all the other directors he contributed to. Movie goers don’t appreciate what they don’t see and don’t get anything but pop songs.

philip yates

let’s remember that one of the criteria for lifetime achievement is that the recipient must attend the ceremonies. woody allen, hackmam and a few others are so reclusive you will never see them get their deserving awards.

Bryan McNulty

I became a fan of John Williams in 1975 after hearing his Academy winning score for Jaws and became a bigger fan when he composed the scores for Star Wars (1977), Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), and Superman in 1978. It was because of John Williams that I learned how great film scores can make films better in elevating the action, scenes, meaning, and making them fill the spectrum of human emotion. My favorite musical genre has been for me for the last 41 years are the music of film scores and I and have John Williams to thank for it. I do own all of his scores on both Vinyl and Compact Discs. I feel that John Williams was robbed from a Academy Award when his score for Superman Lost to Midnight Express in 1978 because Superman was such a brilliant score. He also should have won many more Academy Awards for his film scores. His musical ending for E. T. (1982) in my opinion is the greatest musical score ending to a movie in film history.

I also began listening to his non film scores or other musical compositions such as his 1984 Olympic Fanfare Theme, his 1986 Liberty Fanfare Theme, his 1988 Olympic Themes, his 1996 Olympic Theme “Summon The Heroes” Theme, his 1999 American Journey Composition, his 2002 Winter Olympic Theme “Call of the Champions”, and his many other musical compositions.

In my opinion, John Williams is the greatest composer in World Music History because he has written the greatest film scores in film history, brilliant musical compositions that elevated international events (The Summer and Winter Olympics, 1986 Liberty Weekend, and other events that he has composed for) to a higher musical level that elevated each event to such an enjoyable, dignified, and magical experience.

I have also been a huge fan of the American Film Institute and I have been watching their Lifetime Achievement Award Shows for the last 37 years and I am so thankful to the American Film Institute for giving John Williams the honor of being the first film composer to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

As a 41 year fan of John Williams ( Mr. Williams has been my favorite composer since 1975) I am thrilled for Mr. Williams on receiving this high honor.

I would like to personally say congratulations to John Williams and to say to him that you have given me countless hours and a lifetime of enjoyment in the gift of your music that I will always cherish. You have enriched the world with your music and thrilled all of us with your brilliance.

Again, Congratulations Maestro!!!!!!!!!


John Williams is a living legend. This award is perhaps one of the best recognition awards to him. Look forward to watching this on TNT soon. I only wish I could get a copy of this wonderful brochure from the AFI program which celebrates John Williams. Can any one help?

Rev. Mary Beth Olson

I am desperately trying to find the DVD of the AFI Life Time Achievement Award for John Williams seen on your channel in 2015. Can you help me find this?

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