John Williams - Munich

John Williams - Munich soundtrack album CD cover Within the CD booklet for Munich Steven Spielberg writes "In the World of film scores, 2005 will be remembered as a John Williams red-letter year. Incredibly, John composed and conducted four scores: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds, Memoirs of a Geisha and Munich. Each of these scores only had the composer in common. The compositions couldn't be more diverse, and clearly illustrates what I have been saying for years in my liner notes, that John Williams is a master of disguise." Spielberg outlines that the film Munich is based on the events from the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich where the terrorist group Black September kidnapped and murdered eleven members of the Israeli Olympic Team, and goes on to mention that for him the key track from the score is "A Prayer for Peace". What Spielberg didn't mention is that all 4 John Williams scores from 2005 were nominated for awards of various kinds, with both "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Munich" achieving oscar nominations. Of the four scores the music for "Munich" is the deepest emotionally.

"Munich, 1972" starts out with a Middle Eastern vocal line by Lisbeth Scott. Although this type of sound is very much a modern film music cliche it is very appropriate in this case, and soon gives way to a troubled drum beat and piano building to an orchestral crash. "The Attack at Olympic Village" is a string-led track with ethnic influences, while the folk-song "Hatikvah (The Hope)" is a heart-felt orchestral rendition of the Israeli National Anthem. The vocal lament returns in "Remembering Munich" in extended form to an quietly supporting orchestral accompaniment. With little in the way of thematic material, "Letter Bombs" is driven forward by a variety of different rhythmic beats with an expertly balanced mixture of timbres. "A Prayer for Peace" is the previously mentioned heart of the soundtrack. It has all the emotional depth that Williams poured into other Spielberg films especially Schindler's List and the closing hymn of Saving Private Ryan, though this track has a warmth which conveys a distinct feeling of hope. In a total contrast one of the longer tracks "Bearing the Burden" starts as an atonal representation of a troubled or even disturbed mind and, after a brief more tonal middle section, the closing blend seems to be in prepared piano territory.

"Avner and Daphna" is a wonderfully poignant song for oboe later joined by French Horn, prior to the return of tension filled darkness in "The Tarmac at Munich". John Williams shows his understanding of classical guitar when (the previously hinted at) "Avner's Theme" is given a solo guitar treatment beautifully played by Adam del Monte. Plucked strings also try to cut through the darkness of "Stalking Carl", but it is a solo guitar which again introduces Avner's Theme in "Bonding". "Encounter in London", "Bomb Malfunctions" and the later "The Raid in Tarifa" and "Hiding the Family" revert to rhythmic drum patterns and low piano notes, while "Discovering Hans" develops Avner's Theme in new uncertain directions and "Thoughts of Home" returns to the thematic material of "A Prayer for Peace" on solo cello and horn. Bringing the album to a fitting close, the "End Credits" is an emotionally charged final arrangement of "A Prayer for Peace" for strings and piano. With every score it seems that John Williams goes from strength to strength. This recommended soundtrack album is available at these links: or

Munich by John Williams - Track Listing

  • Munich, 1972
  • The Attack at Olympic Village
  • Hatikvah (The Hope)
  • Remembering Munich
  • Letter Bombs
  • A Prayer for Peace
  • Bearing the Burden
  • Avner and Daphna
  • The Tarmac at Munich
  • Avner's Theme
  • Stalking Carl
  • Bonding
  • Encounter in London and Bomb Malfunctions
  • Discovering Hans
  • The Raid in Tarifa
  • Thoughts of Home
  • Hiding the Family
  • End Credits