About John Williams’ The Cowboys Film Score

Cowboys John Williams
Image courtesy of Amazon.com.
With a career that has spanned over five decades, it is not surprising that John Williams scored at least one Western. What is interesting, however, is that despite being a prolific film composer with numerous notable works in his portfolio, he has scored less than five Westerns in total! One might wonder why when you hear his robust and brassy soundtrack for the 1972 movie The Cowboys.

The Cowboys starred John Wayne as an aging Montana cattle rancher who is forced to hire youngsters, who he eventually takes under his wing, to drive his herd to South Dakota. It’s a coming-of-age story that was met with mixed reviews, although it did win the Best Theatrical Motion Picture “Bronze Wrangler” award from the Western Heritage Awards. Like many old Westerns, The Cowboys also has Colorado ties. Several of its filming locations include Castle Rock, Durango, Pagosa Springs, and the Buckskin Joe Frontier Town & Railway in Canon City.

The main theme can be heard frequently throughout the film with several variations. It is a delightfully rousing theme that instantly conjures up images of galloping horses, sweeping landscapes, and all things…well…cowboy, of course. It is a distinctly Copland-esque piece that is highly-infectious and grand – everything you’d expect from a real Western saga.

You can hear the Parker Symphony orchestra performing The Cowboys Overture at our SOLD OUT concert on May 6.