The third interview from the From Silent’s to Satellite files.
By John Williams ©1993, Originally published in The Magic of Mancini special Publication.
Transcribed and edited for MMI by John Mansell © 2021.
John can you remember the first time that you worked with Henry Mancini?
Yes very much so, That would have been on Charade. I used to be very unpunctual in fact I was known to be late for sessions so even though I was excited about working for him I still managed to be ate and got to the CTS studios and the orchestra was already there, and the session had started. I had to stagger through the mass of musicians, apologize to Henry and then start to play. He was very nice about it, and later came over to me. Because at this time I was a featured player in some of the sessions known for my alto flute playing, he told me that he was also a flute player, so he took my flute and played it straight away, not bad.
Were there any other films you performed on for him?
I was also on Two for the Road and Arabesque.
Was this around the same time that you began to think of composing film scores yourself?
I think it probably was yes, I know I absolutely took note of everything he did. I would often go into the recording booth and stand at the side. The music as you hear it as you are playing it is lovely but does not mean that much, neither does the film on its own, but when the two come together its absolutely dynamic. I was able to scrutinize his score see how he marked it up, how he used to check to synchronize everything and that was a real break for me in film synchronizing and writing. He really did impress me, I thought he had a tremendous technique.
I must say that he was such a nice person to be with to work with and to work for everyone respected him highly. To be able to take a break and be able to wander up to him and share a cup of tea and talk and feel in a sense like an equal. There were some people you worked with for that appeared to be unapproachable. Therefore, without him knowing he was a great friend. And another very nice thing he did for me when I was starting out writing scores he would leave me manuscript paper he had not used after a recording was completed, which used to amount of thick wads, at that time for some reason American manuscript paper was superior to what we had. So to this day I still have Henry Mancini pads that I use to scribble on!
He has a fine sense f melody.
Not only melody, but drama. He is capable of scoring any film and doing it well and also better than most. I think he is one of the greats.