Composer John Williams to Be Honored by Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns and Old Sturbridge Village

Composer John Williams to Be Honored by Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns and Old Sturbridge Village

Composer John Williams to Be Honored by Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns and Old Sturbridge Village

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. Photo courtesy of University of Texas - Arlington.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. Photo courtesy of University of Texas – Arlington.

Composer John Williams in concert

Composer John Williams in concert


(STURBRIDGE, MA) – Award-winning composer John Williams will receive the annual “Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award” from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and Old Sturbridge Village following a dinner in his honor at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, August 15 at the living history museum. The event is sponsored by Fallon Community Health Plan. Cost for the dinner is $150, seating is limited and reservations are required.  For reservations and more information, contact [email protected], 508-347-0210 or visit

One of America’s most accomplished composers, Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films. His 40-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler’s List, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones films, and Lincoln. Williams also composed the scores for all six Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films.

The “Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award” is presented jointly each year by Ken Burns and Old Sturbridge Village to an individual who has made a significant impact on the arts through projects related to history. Previous awards went to  NBC News Special Correspondent and award-winning author Tom Brokaw; Academy Award-winning actor Sam Waterston, noted for his portrayals of Abraham Lincoln; Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin; and to Emmy Award-winning actress Laura Linney, known for her portrayal of Abigail Adams in the HBO series John Adams. Old Sturbridge Village presented the first lifetime achievement award to Ken Burns himself in 2008 in honor of his many award-winning documentary films.

Williams has received scores of prestigious awards, including the National Medal of Arts, which is the highest award given to artists by the U.S. government; the Kennedy Center Honor; five Academy Awards; 21 Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, and five Emmys. With 48 Oscar nominations, Williams is the Academy’s most nominated living person and the second-most nominated person in the history of the Oscars. He has served as music director and laureate conductor for the Boston Pops Orchestra, and he maintains artistic relationships with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Ken Burns, who has been making films for more than 35 years, is perhaps the most critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker in the country. According to the late historian Stephen Ambrose, “more Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.”

Famous for his documentaries that include The Civil War, Jazz, Baseball, and The War, Burns actually made his very first film about Old Sturbridge Village as a college student in 1975, during which he used the now-famous “Ken Burns effect” – a panning technique – for the first time.

The OSV film, produced as his senior project while a film major at Hampshire College, is a 28-minute film entitled Working in Rural New England. The project inspired Burns to pursue historical subjects, a direction he has continued throughout his career. “Sturbridge is where I became a filmmaker, and where I caught the history bug for good,” he noted.

“I’ve known since I was 12 that I wanted to be a filmmaker, and I have always had a passion and interest in history. When I was producing the film about Old Sturbridge Village — this was the point at which the film bug and the history bug sort of fused, like a nuclear reaction. That was the first film that I signed my name to. That was the first film in which I felt I was the author.”

Recent films by Burns include the 2012 film, The Dust Bowl, a two-part series about the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. He also co-produced The Central Park Five, which debuted in theaters in 2012 and chronicles the Central Park Jogger case from the perspective of five wrongly convicted teenagers. Other recent Burns films include Prohibition, which was broadcast in 2010; The Tenth Inning, an update to the 1994 epic, Baseball; and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, which aired on PBS in 2009. Future projects include films on the Roosevelts, Jackie Robinson, the Vietnam War, and country music.

Event sponsor Fallon Community Health Plan, founded in 1977 and headquartered in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit health care services organization, offering innovative health insurance products throughout Massachusetts, and unique health care programs for independent seniors.

Old Sturbridge Village, one of the oldest and largest living history museums in the country, celebrates New England life in the 1830s. The museum, famous for its costumed interpreters, has more than 40 historic buildings on 200 acres, three water-powered mills, two covered bridges, a working farm with heritage breed animals, and a stagecoach that visitors can ride.  OSV is open year-round; admission: $24; seniors $20; children 3-17, $8; children 2 and under, free. For more: or call 1-800-SEE-1830.