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, cartoon series, spin-offs, or Disney-owned sequels 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.
A John Williams fan website (better than the official one!)
Now get ready for some serious YouTube action! First, Hunsberger’s suite in full:
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, performed live at the BBC Proms:
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: