Don Williams, orchestral drummer and brother of Star Wars composer John Williams, announced during a recent event at the Academy of Scoring Arts that work on the score for the final movie in the Skywalker Saga has begun. “John’s started up on another Star Wars,” his brother revealed. “He started last week, he’s got 135 minutes worth of music to write. So that kind of tells you how long the film is. It is top to bottom music.”
John Williams has been composing Star Wars films scores since the mid-1970s, which makes this the fifth decade Williams has worked on the franchise. He scored all three original films from 1977-1983, the prequels beginning with 1999’s The Phantom Menace through 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, and most recently since 2015 with The Force Awakens. Although Williams is known for his other Oscar-winning scores such as Jaws, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Schindler’s List and more, it is likely he’ll always be best known for his contributions to the Star Wars world.
Perhaps what is most distinct about his work on Star Wars is how Williams has composed leitmotifs based on prominent characters in the movies. These include Luke’s theme, Leia’s theme, Yoda’s theme, the Imperial March associated with Darth Vader and the evil galactic Empire in Episodes III through VI, and many more. Even the Millennium Falcon has its own thrilling motif. More recently, we’ve heard themes based on the heroic Rey and the tormented Kylo Ren to enhance the action and drama on screen. Each represents and touches upon deep emotions about the characters we’ve come to love over the decades. In fact, Don Williams indicated that many of these themes will be revisited, however briefly, in the final score for Episode IX:
“I can tell you that every theme you ever heard is gonna be compiled into this last effort. Leia, Yoda, the Phantom, Darth, all of it is gonna be in there.”
We are very fortunate that John Williams is still with us 40 years after his first contribution to Star Wars and that he’s composing the final piece in this cinematic score opus. Although most of his cinematic scores are truly exceptional, perhaps his work on the Star Wars films is the most beloved.
Watch part of the discussion with Don Williams here: