John Williams returns to the Star Wars universe, reportedly for the last time, in this December's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
It's with good reason that we mourn Williams's imminent departure – he's been the soul of the series since 1977's A New Hope, the music for which re-established a new golden age of Hollywood adventure scoring.
Williams stuck with the franchise throughout the original and prequel trilogies. Following that, he was enlisted by JJ Abrams for the new Star Wars trilogy that began with 2015's The Force Awakens, and continued with Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi in 2017.
The composer's plethora of character and location-specific themes is quite astonishing. From the Force theme to the romantic union between Han Solo and Leia (heard in the Rise of Skywalker trailer), the imposing menace of The Imperial March to the choral fireworks of Duel of the Fates, Williams's Star Wars scores have birthed more memorable pieces than many composers could manage in a single lifetime.
So it's no surprise that Williams's brother Don, a percussionist on the Rise of Skywalker score, is promising spectacular things from the composer's latest work. In fact, according to Don, his sibling has "135 minutes' worth of music to write". He made the revelation during a discussion of his brother's Jurassic Park score at the Academy of Scoring Arts, promising a smorgasbord of Star Wars musical goodness.
"We've done four days and we just scratched the surface," he says. "I think we've got something like 34 minutes in the can at this point, but I can tell you that every theme you ever heard is gonna be compiled into this last effort."
One might assume that one of theme will be the evil Palpatine's choral theme from 1983's Return of the Jedi. It's been confirmed that Ian McDiarmid will return (somehow) as the Sith Lord (we heard his laughter in the trailer) – and it sounds like Williams isn't stopping there.
"You'll be sitting there watching the film go by and 'Oh, there it is!'" says Don. "There's two bars of it and it grabs you and takes you away."
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John Williams has always excelled at these musical Easter eggs – in The Phantom Menace for example, the frolicking material for young Anakin Skywalker melds with the brooding tones of The Imperial March, foreshadowing his eventual transformation into Darth Vader.