The complex layers of frenetic activity that collectors had begun to hear in Williams’ writing by the early 1990’s are completely absent from Schindler’s List. Instead, Williams approaches the horrors on screen with a beauty so primordial that the score is dripping with romantic heartbreak at each of its harmonic turns. The primary theme meanders as smoothly and gracefully as any in modern history. Each lush progression of the title theme, famous for its teasingly near-octave alterations, takes advantage of heart-wrenchingly simple harmonic progressions, ironically combining to form a theme that, despite these very basic movements, is a unique and lasting memory for many listeners.
Unlike other film music written by Williams, such as Jurassic Park (written earlier the same year), Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars, this hauntingly beautiful violin solo and orchestra piece has become a popular classic in its own right, especially with Itzhak Perlman playing on a Stradivarius.
John Williams scores incredibly for the orchestra, featuring the violas playing a counter-melody to the solo violin. It almost puts one in mind of the opening of the Sibelius Violin Concerto.
Williams’ score for Schindler’s List was awarded an Oscar, Grammy and BAFTA.