May 2012

Olympic Fanfare and Theme

by John Williams

It's John Williams Month again, and, as this is a year of the Summer Olympics (being held in London), I thought I would provide an Olympic theme for this month and next month.

When a country hosts the Olympic Games, tradition holds that said country will enlist a native composer to compose a theme for the games. In 1984, the 23rd (XXIII) Summer Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles, CA. The Olympic Committee commissioned John Williams to write the theme for the games. He wrote "Olympic Fanfare and Theme." Williams himself conducted an orchestra consisting of Los Angeles musicians at the games.

Williams would also write themes for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA, and, most recently, the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT.

A lot of times, these themes don't get remembered or played beyond the event itself. There have really only been a handful that become really popular. The "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" is one of them. It has become iconic of the Olympic Games.

Jon's Introduction to This Piece:

I can remember watching the Olympics more frequently when I was younger. It's very likely that the first time I heard this piece was during the 1984 Olympics. Though it was written by John Williams (who is, in my opinion, the greatest living composer), it didn't really grow on me until much later.


And now, to ring in the 30th (XXX) Olympiad, here is the "Olympic Fanfare and Theme". Enjoy!

Olympic Fanfare and Theme by John Williams (4:23)

For those interested, this recording was performed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel.

Jon's Interpretation:

Brass fanfares are awesome, and they make the listener feel awesome. There are not a lot of composers that really know what they're doing with brass. John Williams does.

We've talked about a lot of victorious movie scores that John Williams has written. This bears his trademark. Makes you want to run down a street carrying a torch, doesn't it?

Extra Credit:

I had to stretch to find an extra credit for this month, but I'm pleased with my effort. In Season 14 of The Simpsons, in an episode called "I'm Spelling As Fast As I Can", Lisa competes in the Spell-lympics, which has an admittedly familiar-sounding theme. Enjoy!