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Category Archives: Williams-John

I don’t know what I could possibly say about Star Wars or John Williams that hasn’t already been said.  So I’ll start by reproducing Donald Hunsberger’s preface from the score of his version of Star Wars Trilogy (bear in mind this was published in 1997, before any of the prequels appeared):

The phenomenal success twenty years ago of STAR WARS and its two companion films, RETURN OF THE JEDI and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, renewed interest in movies as huge spectacles. Although set in futuristic terms for we earthbound travelers, the three films are in many ways historical in nature.  Frequently described as “the morality plays of film,” the stories in the TRILOGY share a common theme of the primary struggle between good and evil and the eventual success of love conquering all.

Created originally to be a nine-part series, each film is complete within itself while remaining open-ended for its eventual position in the nine tales.  The characters obviously grow older and the production technology develops more and more as each year goes by.  The current [again, as of 1997] re-release of the films in the United States has generated massive interest and box-office success for the shows.

Of musical interest, the STAR WARS project brought to international prominence the talents of John Williams, one of the most gifted composers for film and television.  Williams worked in a totally different compositional style for the late 1970s in that he did not write short “cue music” for individual scenes, but rather composed large free-standing compositions that accompanied large segments of the film.

The five excerpts gathered in the TRILOGY are each capable of individual contrast, excitement and beauty.  The themes for Leia and Yoda have received recognition, and the “Darth Vader Death March” and “The Main Title Music” are some of the best known film music performed today.  The hidden gem in this set is the third movement, “The Battle in the Forest,” from RETURN OF THE JEDI, an extremely humorous Prokofiev-esque vivace which supports the little Ewoks in their fight with the huge metallic giants.

There is obviously much available on the web about this.  Here is just the tip of the iceberg.

Starwars.com – features all the new stuff and merchandise as well.

Wookieepedia – The online encyclopedia devoted specifically to Star Wars and its many, varied spinoffs.  Enjoy!

Star Wars in 30 seconds, reenacted by bunnies.  Yes, bunnies.

John Williams’s official website.

A John Williams fan website (better than the official one!)

John Williams on Wikipedia.

Now get ready for some serious YouTube action!

Imperial March for orchestra, nearly identical in form to the one found in the Trilogy:

Leia’s theme, in the original orchestra version, identical in form to the Hunsberger:

Battle in the Forest – again nearly identical, but has a few extra bars in the middle and the end not found in the Hunsberger version:

Yoda’s theme (same as Hunsberger version until about 2:30):

Star Wars main theme in thrilling live performance with the composer conducting.  Not quite the same as Hunsberger, but all the pieces are there:

Finally, perhaps the most realistic version of the Imperial March:

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John Williams (b. 1932) is perhaps the most famous and accomplished composer alive today.  Even Wikipedia’s extremely dry introduction to his biography can’t dull the luster of his career:

John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. In a career that spans six decades, Williams has composed many of the most famous film scores in Hollywood history, including Star Wars, Superman, Home Alone, the first three Harry Potter movies and all but two of Steven Spielberg’s feature films including the Indiana Jones series, Schindler’s List, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Jaws. He also composed the soundtrack for the hit 1960s television series Lost in Space as well as the fanfare of the DreamWorks Pictures’ logo.
Williams has composed theme music for four Olympic Games, the NBC Nightly News, the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, and numerous television series and concert pieces. He served as the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980 to 1993, and is now the orchestra’s laureate conductor.
Williams has been nominated for 45 Academy Awards and won five. He has also won four Golden Globe Awards, seven BAFTA Awards and 21 Grammy Awards. With 45 Academy Award nominations, Williams is, together with composer Alfred Newman, the second most nominated person after Walt Disney. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.

John Williams’s official website.

A John Williams fan website (better than the official one!)

John Williams on Wikipedia.

John Williams on the Internet Movie Database – easily the most colorful biography of him.

The Cowboys is a 1972 western starring John Wayne for which the young John Williams provided a vivid, intricate score.

A very fine high school band performs Jim Curnow’s band arrangement of The Cowboys.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds!

John Williams conducting the Boston Pops in The Cowboys, which follows the same form as our band version.

Original trailer for the theatrical release of the movie:

John Williams (b. 1932) is perhaps the most famous and accomplished composer alive today.  Even Wikipedia’s extremely dry introduction to his biography can’t dull the luster of his career:

John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. In a career that spans six decades, Williams has composed many of the most famous film scores in Hollywood history, including Star Wars, Superman, Home Alone, the first three Harry Potter movies and all but two of Steven Spielberg’s feature films including the Indiana Jones series, Schindler’s List, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Jaws. He also composed the soundtrack for the hit 1960s television series Lost in Space as well as the fanfare of the DreamWorks Pictures’ logo.
Williams has composed theme music for four Olympic Games, the NBC Nightly News, the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, and numerous television series and concert pieces. He served as the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980 to 1993, and is now the orchestra’s laureate conductor.
Williams has been nominated for 45 Academy Awards and won five. He has also won four Golden Globe Awards, seven BAFTA Awards and 21 Grammy Awards. With 45 Academy Award nominations, Williams is, together with composer Alfred Newman, the second most nominated person after Walt Disney. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.

John Williams’s official website.

A John Williams fan website (better than the official one!)

John Williams on Wikipedia.

John Williams on the Internet Movie Database – easily the most colorful biography of him.

The movie Schindler’s List tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a Czech businessman and member of the Nazi party.  At the beginning of World War II in 1939, he opens a factory in Poland at which he uses Jewish workers because they are cheaper than non-Jewish Poles.  After witnessing Nazi atrocities against Jews, he resolves to save as many Jews as he can by creating a list of essential workers.  The people on his list thereby avoid being shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp.  All this Schindler accomplishes at immense personal expense.  He is remembered today as a hero who saved over 1100 lives.

Schindler’s List on IMDB

Williams’s theme for the film captures all the drama and melancholy of the story.  It was originally recorded with violinist Itzhak Perlman as the featured soloist.

Here is the theme, identical to our version in form, with a montage of scenes from the movie (unfortunately embedding is disabled so you’ll just have to follow the link – it’s worth it!)

And now a servicable band version with flute soloist, identical to what we are playing: