John Williams - Schindler's List

"Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire".

John Williams - Schindler's List soundtrack album CD cover John Williams has always been an exceptionally industrious film score composer; from the late 1950's to our present day, he has managed to generate no less than 70 soundtracks (this is without including his TV themes). Schindler's List has to be one of Williams’ most haunting works, homogeneously fitting alongside Spielberg's most haunting film in which, contrary to most Williams’ scores, simplicity plays a key role. Upon viewing the film, and experiencing the heartlessness of the late 1930's Nazi Germany, as opposed to the romantic and humane facade of the Jewish community, it goes without saying that Schindler's List would not function without Williams’ score.

"Theme from Schindler's List", the opening track, is the very heart and soul of the entire oeuvre. You could describe this track as being "infinitely sad", especially when all the scenes from the movie flood the back of your mind, and you feel that painful twinge in your heart. Itzhak Perlman's violin slithers gently above Williams’ orchestration with profound sorrow, evocative of the suffering and torment of the era. "Krakov Ghetto - Winter 41" is a heart-breaking violin lament, reminiscent of Jean Ledrut's otherworldly orchestration on The Trial in a way (Orson Welles, 1962). John Williams goes back to his main theme many times, especially in tracks "Schindler's Workforce", in which he introduces a sensation of serenity and humour, and also in "I Could Have Done More", a beautiful variation that seems to contain an ocean-deep layer of depth and subtleties, as well as in the last track “Theme From Schindler’s List (Reprise)”, in which a gentle piano supports a backdrop of lush violin outbursts.

“Auschwitz-Birkenau”, on the other hand, is a pitch black and operatic suite that leads into despair and agony, with quivering violin works and foreboding orchestral clashes. I think it is safe to say that this is John Williams' most inspired piece, and truly incarnates the horror of the “Concentration Camp” and “Final Solution” concepts of Nazi Germany. “Oyf’n Pripetshok and Nacht Aktion” is a Yiddish folklore song; “Oyf’n Pripetshok” means “On the Hearth”. This adds another dimension to the soundtrack, providing us with the feeling that Oskar Schindler is saving much more than names on a list, he is saving an entire culture. “Yeroushalaim Chel Zahav”, also known as “Jerusalem of Gold”, implies much of the same imagery: a heartfelt chant full of hope and dignity.

Schindler’s List is a unique soundtrack that defies the norm of dramatic compositions, opting for intelligent references to folklore, alongside simplistic and sincere orchestration. This recommended soundtrack album should be saved for special occasions, but is a must for any soundtrack collection and available at these locations: or

Reviewer: Robert Purvis

Schindler's List by John Williams - Track Listing

  • Theme from Schindler’s List
  • Jewish Town (Krakow Ghetto - Winter ’41)
  • Immolation (With our lives, we give life)
  • Remembrances
  • Schindler’s Workforce
  • Oyf’n Pripetshok and Nacht Aktion
  • I Could Have Done More
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Stolen Memories
  • Making the List
  • Give me Your Names
  • Yeroushalaim Chel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold)
  • Remembrances (with Itzhak Perlman)
  • Theme from Schindler’s List (Reprise)