Star Wars Fantasy: Four Impressions for Two Pianos
January 31, 2010 – Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano
In 2006, The Juilliard School celebrated its centennial year, and among its many celebratory events, one concert was devoted to film music. Held in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and dubbed “Cinema Serenades,” the concert featured the premieres of original works composed by six famed film scorers. Among the participants The Juilliard School commissioned: Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings), Marc Shaiman (The Adams Family and Sleepless in Seattle), and Marvin Hamlisch (Sophie’s Choice and The Way We Were). John Williams, a Juilliard alumnus, also agreed to compose a new piece, but he regretfully withdrew from the project just over a month before the event was to take place. The school still wanted to honor this titan of film music, and being in the right place at the right time, we (the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo) were asked-and more importantly, given the legal permission-to compose and perform a piece based on music from the Star Wars trilogies.
In composing our Star Wars Fantasy: Four Impressions for Two Pianos, we took motives from John Williams’ iconic score and constructed an entirely new work. At times, we were reverent to our source material; at others, not so much. The first impression is loosely based on the cantina theme heard in “Episode IV: A New Hope.” If you are very perceptive, you may notice other themes hidden within the texture of the music, such as the “force theme,” Darth Vader and Yoda’s themes, and various battle motives. The second impression is a quasi-minimalist, free-flowing treatment of the “force theme” heard throughout all six Star Wars films, while the third impression is a more literal arrangement of the “March of the Ewoks” from “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.” The fantasy concludes climactically with a final impression combining musical themes from all six movies into a toccata of dramatic cacophony.
Although we were strapped for time (we finished the composition on the day of the concert!), we had a blast creating this piece of music. Among our favorite memories: watching all six Star Wars films in three consecutive days while devouring pizza and Chinese food, discussing and debating musical ideas at the most unnatural hours of night, giving the adrenaline-charged premiere in front of a packed house, and of course, joyously revamping music we love into a creation all our own.
© Greg Anderson & Elizabeth Joy Roe