No other film series has a soundtrack that is so recognizable, so intrinsically associated with the movies that the mere hint of a familiar refrain can invoke powerful memories. Star Wars is the bomb and much of it is due to John Williams.

In anticipation to our upcoming Star Wars Concerts on December 17 & 18, our conductor, Aaron Collins shares his favorites from John Williams’ epic Star Wars scores. Part 2 highlights musical cues from the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens.


from A New Hope

As far as I am concerned, this is the only part of The Phantom Menace film that really stands out and shines. The use of a choir is rare in the Star Wars universe – with “The Emperor’s Theme” from Return of the Jedi being the other memorable cue. The piece marks a watershed moment for the series. Musically, it’s the first Wars tune Williams wrote that calls for a choir to be featured, alongside the full London Symphony Orchestra, the performed lyrics written in sanskrit. It is incredibly exciting and the lightsaber duel between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gon almost makes you forget much of the cheesiness that preceded it.

Listen to the Binary Sunset

from A New Hope

“Princess Leia’s Theme” has emerged as one of the most recognizable music passages in all of Star Wars being featured in almost every film in some way. Gentle and sweeping, this theme provides a nice contrast to all the action music in the series.

Listen to Princess Leia’s Theme

from The Empire Strikes Back

My absolute favorite cue from the Star Wars series. A nearly fifteen minute track accompanying the incredible battle in TESB. The Battle of Hoth is so damn epic! The music goes from hope to despair, defeat to victory, while weaving in and out so many of the main themes. To me, this is one of the finest scored action sequences in all of film.

from The Empire Strikes Back

Immediately following The Battle of Hoth, Williams brings another iconic action cue. Frantic is the way I like my action music and this piece delivers. Such a fun movement.

Listen to Asteroid Field

from Return of the Jedi

I used to reenact this scene at home, with my grandparents green shag carpet playing the role of the sarlacc (the ground’s mouth). While I was swinging from bed to bed, I would sing John Williams score as my swashbuckling accompaniment. Always loved this scene and cue!

Listen to the Sail Barge Assault

from Return of the Jedi

Remember the swinging from bed to bed? This was my mom’s theme, male chorus and all. The melody here is simple and foreboding, enhanced by a male choir (this color a first in the Star Wars series). The piece would be revisited at the film’s climax, and appear in different arrangements throughout the prequel trilogy.

Listen to The Emperor’s Theme

from The Force Awakens

I absolutely love this theme and it is quickly becoming one of my Star Wars’ favorites. Rey’s Theme is the most substantial new composition for The Force Awakens. It is jaunty, adventurous, and optimistic. It fits Rey’s character perfectly and if you watch the film again and again, you begin to realize how important the music’s role is in establishing these characters.

from The Force Awakens

The Jedi Steps is an absolutely perfect scene. JJ Abrams lets John Williams’ incredible music take center stage. No dialogue, no sound effects… just Williams bad-assery. It is a great composition – borrowing from and advancing Rey’s Theme. What a way to close the movie! Then we are treated to Rey’s theme, portions of Follow Me, the ResistanceTheme, and an ingenious setting of The Force Theme in counterpoint with Rey’s Theme. People who say TFA’s score is inferior to others should give the film a second viewing. It grows on you and you start to notice how mature the scoring actually is.

Listen to Jedi Steps and Finale