We don’t need to catalog John Williams’ composing history in order for you to know that it should be one of your life goals to hear his music played by a full, live orchestra. The composer practically re-invented the idea of the “film score” with two simple notes—yes, we’re thinking of the “du-du du-du” of Jaws. And then, he gave us Star Wars.
Williams is now coming full circle. Having created the unimaginable and unforgettable tunes that illustrated that galaxy far, far away so well in A New Hope, he’s still at it, ready to wow us all again with new takes on old tunes and fresh melodies in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Plus, with the 40th Anniversary of the our first introduction to Star Wars happening this year, we are presenting a full screening of A New Hope with the live, lush orchestra that this music always deserved (thanks Austin Symphony Orchestra!).
After the success of The Force Awakens, BMI caught up with Williams in an extended interview (seriously, read this whole thing). After reading this, what new things can we look forward to for the newest movie in December, and how will hearing A New Hope live change the experience for us?
BMI: You’ve been involved in the Star Wars saga from the very beginning. Did you ever think , when you were scoring the original, that it would have the enduring impact it has had and that you would be scoring another chapter int he series nearly 40 years later?
WILLIAMS: Well, when we did the initial recording in London in 1977, I didn’t have any inkling that there would be a second film and George Lucas, who has created all this, as you know, didn’t tell me or, as fat as I know, anybody else, if there was going to be a second film or, let alone, a third film. I thought that it was a great film and that it would be a wonderful sort of Saturday afternoon show for the family, and then in a few weeks it would be gone. . .
The opportunity to do now seven of them is probably unique in the history of film. I’m just lucky. To be able to work for nearly 40 years, off and on, on the same subject and to be able to add themes and musical material to the glossary of themes that went before and try, as I have tried in the new film, to keep it organically related, is not only a unique challenge but tremendous fun. And I feel very privileged to have that very special, unique opportunity after 40 years, and to have the energy to do it. I feel nothing but great good fortune.
BMI: How did you approach the score this time?
WILLIAMS: The approach is always pretty much the same for me. It’s a working life, as you know, in music. I have done a lot of films and a lot of other composing, various projects in the interim years, but when I have come back to the Star Wars films or, for that matter, Indiana Jones where we’ve done four of them, I always felt that it was kind of like getting back on your teenage bicycle that you haven’t forgotten how to ride it at all, and it takes a few hours to get back in the swing of whatever the modalities are of that particular project.
. . . I hope people will find that the music is fresh and new and at the same time, interrelated with earlier material that we have come to know and perform so much.
[SPOILERS AHEAD for anyone who knows nothing about Star Wars!]
BMI: One last question: Were you surprised when you found out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father?
WILLIAMS: I was! And I was initially surprised when Luke and Leia were brother and sister. These are some of George Lucas’ well-kept secrets and he was right to keep them. So it kept us in the dark. There are surprised in the new film[s] too that people will experience… and I hope they’re going to be happy. I think they will be, and I hope everybody who sees the film[s] will have a fraction of the fun that we all had in making it.
—excerpts from “A Conversation With John Williams: The legendary composer talks about the music that has transported us to a galaxy far, far away for four decades and counting,” 2015 by Juliet Simon, Broadcast Music Inc.
With The Last Jedi hitting theaters this December, do your nostalgia right and see this new spin on A New Hope, October 11 & 12. Even better, lucky fans holding a VIP Meet & Greet ticket will get to experience a post-show Q&A with Conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos and Technical Director Luke Dennis to learn how it all comes together. Plus get a great seat to the show!
Go back to where it all began with Star Wars: A New Hope In Concert, a full screening of the film plus live score by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, October 11 & 12.