Oscar-winning composer John Williams ("Jaws," "Star Wars," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Schindler's List") was named the 44th AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Thursday by the American Film Institute Board of Trustees. Williams is the first composer to receive the award, one of the highest honors for a film career in the U.S.
Williams will join the ranks of such stellar previous winners as James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, John Ford, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Sidney Poitier, Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas.
Williams, 83, will receive the award at a gala tribute scheduled for June 9, 2016 in Los Angeles. An edited version of the ceremony will air on TNT and TCM at a later date.
"John Williams has written the soundtrack of our lives," said Sir Howard Stringer, chair of the AFI board in a statement. "Note by note, through chord and chorus, his genius for marrying music with movies has elevated the art form to symphonic levels and inspired generations of audiences to be enriched by the magic of the movies."
In a career that has spanned some seven decades, Williams has won five Academy Awards — three from films directed by his frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg — three Golden Globes, five BAFTA awards and 22 Grammys. He's earned a total of 49 Oscar nominations, making him the second-most-nominated individual after Walt Disney.
He's also written the scores for Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Lincoln," as well as the first three "Harry Potter" films, "The Witches of Eastwick" and the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens."
Early his career, Williams composed music for more than 200 TV films and series including "Lost in Space." More recently, he composed the themes for "NBC Nightly New" and PBS' "Great Performances."
Williams was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004 and the National Medal of Arts in 2009.