Star Wars Music
The music of Star Wars consists of the scores written for all six Star Wars films by composer John Williams from 1977 to 1983 for the Original Trilogy, and 1999 to 2005 for the Prequel Trilogy. Williams' scores for the double trilogy count among the most widely known and popular contributions to modern film music. Additionally, music for Star Wars: The Clone Wars was written by Kevin Kiner, and further music has been composed for Star Wars video games and works in other media.
The scores utilize an eclectic variety of musical styles, many culled from the Late Romantic idiom of Richard Strauss and his contemporaries that itself was incorporated into the Golden Age Hollywood scores of Erich Korngold and Max Steiner. While several obvious nods to Gustav Holst, William Walton and Igor Stravinsky exist in the score to Episode IV, Williams relied less and less on classical references in the latter five scores, incorporating more strains of modernist orchestral writing with each progressive score. The reasons for Williams' tapping of a familiar Romantic idiom are known to involve Lucas' desire to ground the otherwise strange and fantastic setting in well-known, audience-accessible music. Indeed, Lucas maintains much of the trilogy's success relies not on advanced visual effects, but on the simple, direct emotional appeal of its plot, characters and, importantly, music.
Star Wars often is credited as heralding the beginning of a revival of grand symphonic scores in the late 1970s. One technique in particular is an influence: Williams's revival of a technique called leitmotif, which is most famously associated with the operas of Richard Wagner and, in film scores, with Steiner. A leitmotif is a phrase or melodic cell that signifies a character, place, plot element, mood, idea, relationship or other specific part of the film. It commonly is used in modern film scoring as a device for mentally anchoring certain parts of a film to the soundtrack. Of chief importance for a leitmotif is that it must be strong enough for a listener to latch onto while being flexible enough to undergo variation and development.
A series of concerts which featured Star Wars music, Star Wars: In Concert, took place in 2009 and 2010. First performed in London, it went on to tour across the United States and Canada, last playing at London, Ontario, Canada on July 25, 2010.
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“The obvious parallels between Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz have frequently been noted: in both there is the orphan hero who is raised on a farm by an aunt and uncle and yearns to escape to adventure. Obi-wan Kenobi resembles the Wizard; the loyal, plucky little robot R2D2 is Toto; C3PO is the Tin Man; and Chewbacca is the Cowardly Lion. Darth Vader replaces the Wicked Witch: this is a patriarchy rather than a matriarchy.”
—Andrew Gordon, U.S. educator, critic. The Inescapable Family in American Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, Journal of Popular Film and Television (Summer 1992)
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