96 episodes

Take a musical journey through the 60-year career of film composer John Williams!

The Baton: A John Williams Musical Journey Jeff Commings

    • Film History
    • 4.8 • 5 Ratings

Take a musical journey through the 60-year career of film composer John Williams!

    Episode 96 - The Terminal

    Episode 96 - The Terminal

    Though the movie and score for "The Terminal" might seem like a blip on the radar, neither Steven Spielberg nor John Williams approached this film any less seriously than their major successes. The story marks Tom Hanks' third film with Spielberg, as an Eastern European man stuck in the JFK airport for nine months. Williams supplies a wonderfully light theme for Viktor, as well as a lyrical love theme that host Jeff Commings believes could have been turned into a beautiful love song by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Grab a plate of cannelloni and join us for this exploration of an often-forgotten Williams score.

    • 32 min
    Episode 95 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Episode 95 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Many John Williams fans sneered at the music for "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," mostly because the Maestro chose to almost completely scrap the musical ideas he created for the first two films in favor of darker themes and tonalities in Alfonso Cuaron's take on the franchise. Host Jeff Commings is joined by Paulius Eidukas as the two talk about some of the new themes that make up the score and how some of the compositional techniques made Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew musically intertwined with each other. Both praise Williams' work for the film and lament there wasn't another opportunity for Williams and Cuaron to collaborate after this project. 

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Episode 94 - Catch Me If You Can

    Episode 94 - Catch Me If You Can

    John Williams capped off a marathon year of writing film scores with his Oscar-nominated composition for Steven Spielberg's dramedy "Catch Me If You Can." The score gave Williams the opportunity to return to his jazz roots, writing music that reflected the 1960s setting of the film. Many of the music cues feature saxophone solos by Dan Higgins, who joins host Jeff Commings to talk about his musical background and why playing the music in the score fit perfectly into his performance style.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Episode 93 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    Episode 93 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    The demanding work schedule John Williams faced in 2002 meant he had to make a tough choice for his score to "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." He asked composer/orchestrator William Ross to help out by adapting much of the music from the first film for use in the sequel, while fitting the new music Williams wrote into certain places. This allowed Williams to work on Steven Spielberg's second film of the year, but it meant trusting that Ross would do a good job with his music. Host Jeff Commings details the specifics regarding Ross' responsibilities, as well as Williams' new thematic material and how it is presented in the film. Brush up on your parseltongue and enjoy this latest episode!

    • 31 min
    Episode 92 - Minority Report

    Episode 92 - Minority Report

    John Williams didn't have a lot of time to think about the score for Steven Spielberg's futuristic science fiction thriller "Minority Report," going right into the project almost immediately after finishing work on "Attack of the Clones." Spielberg and Williams agreed on a score that put more emphasis on tone rather than melody, something that was quite new for a Spielberg/Williams collaboration. But, the film manages to create some compelling themes and interesting action cues, with the flute section getting a lot of play during some masculine and powerful fight scenes. Host Jeff Commings breaks down the various themes and finds an interesting comparison to the music in one scene to music used in a groundbreaking comedy 10 years earlier.

    • 46 min
    Episode 91 - Attack of the Clones

    Episode 91 - Attack of the Clones

    The 2002 film "Attack of the Clones" not only challenged John Williams with continuing the musical portrait he started with "The Phantom Menace" and closing the gap with the original "Star Wars" trilogy, but also trying to write a compelling score before he had to dash off to write music for "Minority Report." In the end, Williams was unable to finish his score, using music from "The Phantom Menace" to cover the climactic battle scene that was still being created in the visual effects department. Host Jeff Commings details the two new themes that were created for the film, which includes debunking George Lucas' statement that the love theme for Anakin and Padme is the first love theme for the "Star Wars" series. There are standout musical moments for action scenes, including a fight in the rain and a chase through a city that includes the first use of electric guitar in the galaxy far, far away.

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

brian991 ,

Great dive to the Works of Williams

The time, dedication and care for each episode telling the story of each score here is a work of beauty. The host dives into each score with enthusiasm working through where the music fits in the film and on some episodes has great guests who go through a detailed makeup of how the musical pieces work. A great primer for each score it really makes you want to go find up the scores you have missing in your collection while making you appreciate some of the major works even more than before. My only nitpick and it’s really my personal preference, is that the podcast doesn’t stray very often into the release history of some of these scores in the collectors market. There are often some great stories to be told there as well and I think would have added another layer to each episode. (though I’m only starting episode 51 Dracula as I write this so maybe that changes)

Bravo looking forward to continuing my journey with the Baton!

Bri Martell ,

Lift The Baton....

A great look/review of the career of John Williams, from first assignment to present, going forward chronologically, tying the music to the film and discussing how and why it works; informative and entertaining, you may not always agree, but you’ll enjoy the journey.

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