Piece of the Week: Music from Star Wars

Music from Star Wars

Can’t wait for the new Star Wars movie to come out in 2015? Neither can we. But did you know that SmartMusic has pieces drawn from the original Star Wars music for you to download and play with your band or full orchestra? While you and your students are on the edge of your seats waiting for Episode VII: The Force Awakens to come out, why not program John Williams beloved Star Wars Marches for your concert band, or go all out and play the themes from all six of the previous Star Wars films as arranged in The Star Wars Epic, Part I and II (both from Alfred Music Publishing). Adding these pieces to your concert calendar just might be the perfect way to harness the Star Wars excitement that your students–and their parents–are feeling, and channel it towards your band or orchestra program.

Audio Sample: Star Wars – The Marches

Audio provided by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.

Audio Sample: “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars Epic, Part I

Audio provided by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.

Audio Sample: “Star Wars Main Title” from Star Wars Epic, Part II

Audio provided by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.

Composition Notes: The Star Wars Epic, Part I and II

The Star Wars movie phenomenon has captured the imaginations of three generations of movie fans worldwide. Beginning in 1977 with the release of “Episode IV: A New Hope,” the vision of George Lucas combined with the music of John Williams has resulted in the most successful series of films and the most recognized movie in music history. Arranger Robert W. Smith has drawn upon the imagination of John Williams and George Lucas to create Suite from the Star Wars Epic – Part I and Part II, which includes music from all six movie episodes. Part I opens with “Duel of the Fates” from Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and the journey through the galactic empire begins. The hauntingly beautiful “Across The Stars” from Episode 2: Attack of the Clones is followed by the theme from Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, completing the first part of the listener’s interstellar musical travel. Part II continues with “Princess Leia’s Theme” from Episode IV: A New Hope (aka the original 1977 Star Wars). Episodes V and VI (The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) give us the menacing sounds of “The Imperial March” and the lighthearted, yet powerful “Forest Battle.” The suite continues with the “Star Wars (Main Title),” drawing the musical epic to a fitting conclusion. Suite from the Star Wars Epic is dedicated to John Williams, whose life’s work and musical legacy will endure for centuries to come.

Composer Biography: John Williams

John Williams was born in Flushing, New York on February 8, 1932. While Williams’ career has spanned the full range of music, through his involvement with composing, arranging, and conducting, he is best recognized for the scores he composed for major motion pictures. Williams’ father, a studio musician, encouraged him to be a musician. He studied piano from the age of eight, and later learned trombone, trumpet, and clarinet. In 1948, Williams’ family moved to Los Angeles, and there he studied orchestration with Robert van Epps and composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He later returned to New York to study piano with Rosina Lhevinne at the Julliard School of Music. In Hollywood, Williams got his start as a studio pianist, but soon moved into the field of film composition. He produced his first full film score for “I Passed For White” in 1960 and continued throughout the decade to write primarily for comedies. In the 1970s, he wrote scores for a series of popular disaster films including “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972) and “The Towering Inferno” (1974). Williams’ score for a film entitled “The Reivers” (1969) got the attention of the young Steven Spielberg, and he engaged Williams to write the music for “Jaws” (1975). Spielberg also recommended Williams to his friend George Lucas for a project he was starting named “Star Wars” (1977). From there, Williams became recognized as the foremost orchestral film score composer of the era, winning Academy awards for both his “Jaws” and “Star Wars” scores. The film scores Williams has composed form an extensive list of some of the most successful film projects of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. A short list includes “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “Return of the Jedi” (1983), “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom” (1984), “Home Alone” (1990), “Jurassic Park” (1993), and “Schindler’s List” (1993). In addition to film work, Williams has composed a number of concert works, including “Essay” for strings (1966) and “Symphony No. 1” (1966). He composed the Olympic Fanfare and Theme (1984) and in 1985 was commissioned by NBC to write several themes for its news shows. In 1980, Williams replaced the popular Arthur Fiedler as the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Got an idea for a blog post? Contact us!

If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at gwoodworth at makemusic dot com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

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