STAR WARS Piano Anthology

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

There has lately been an influx of new film anthologies for piano solo, recent publications including collections of music by Ennio Morricone, Michael Giacchino, Danny Elfman, Clint Mansell, and the Harry Potter Piano Anthology which I very recently reviewed here.

For me, the film score which first caught my attention growing up was unquestionably Star Wars: A New Hope. Like so many children of the seventies, I was gripped by the film’s release in 1977, equally enamoured by the score, and before long owned the gatefold 2LP Original Soundtrack Recording. It was to prove the first of many John Williams soundtracks added to my growing vinyl collection through my teen years.

Perhaps no surprise, then, that the arrival of an impressive gift book including music from all nine episodes of the saga immediately excited me, and I am now pleased to bring you my review of this brilliant addition to the Pianodao Music Library

Never one to shy away from the latest fashion, I made this video of myself “unpacking” this new title:

And here is the promised review, beginning with a closer look at the 36 pieces included in the Anthology:

• Star Wars (Main Theme)
• Duel of the Fates
• Anakin’s Theme
• The Flag Parade
• Qui-Gon’s Funeral
• Augie’s Great Municipal Band

• Across the Stars
• The Meadow Picnic
• The Arena

• Battle of the Heroes
• Padmé’s Ruminations
• Anakin’s Dark Deeds
• Anakin’s Betrayal

• Princess Leia’s Theme
• Jawa Landcrawler
• Binary Sunset
• Cantina Band
• The Throne Room

• The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)
• Yoda’s Theme
• May the Force Be With You
• Han Solo and the Princess

• Parade of the Ewoks
• Luke and Leia
• The Emperor Arrives
• Victory Celebration

• March of the Resistance
• Rey’s Theme
• The Jedi Steps and Finale

• The Sacred Jedi Texts
• The Rebellion is Reborn

• The Rise of Skywalker
• The Speeder Chase
• We Go Together
• Journey to Exegol
• Farewell

Having shared my unpacking video, the quality of the publication hardly needs further comment, other than to confirm that it has continued to live up to expectations.

Though hardback, the book easily stays flat on the music stand, and while the format is slightly smaller than most music books, the notation is a good size and benefits from crisp engraving. The only caveat to mention (a regular, and hardly a surprise) is that there are no fingering suggestions.

How about the arrangements? These range in level from early intermediate (around UK Grade 4) to more advanced (Grade 6), but can they possibly be effective?

As I have noted before, orchestral and choral soundtracks don’t always translate well into solo piano music, especially tracks that portray action scenes or special scenery. At the same time, to expect that they would do this is to perhaps miss the point, which is that playing through these transcriptions stimulates the sonic memory and musical imagination to satisfyingly recreate the excitement of the original music.

I am happy to report that in this instance, the transcriptions are particularly well crafted for the piano. They include all the big themes, lyrical interludes and a judicious selection of incidental music that works surprisingly well, while giving a comprehensive musical tour of the Star Wars universe.

Rather than create fresh fantasies that weave together the core themes, the transcriptions here closely follow the action of the originals, which only further underlines how extraordinarily emotive and evocative Williams’ best scores are.

Indeed, the wealth of music and variety in this anthology is a powerful reminder of the range of Williams’ genius. Not only is he the master of the memorable motif, but equally adept at delivering exquisite harmonic chromaticisms, and at times employing twisted dissonances to devastating effect.

The Star Wars Piano Anthology is certain to make a wonderful gift book, and is a gorgeous memento for fans of the films and of Williams’ immense contribution to them.

This is of course a niche, luxury product, but one which succeeds with genuine aplomb. It isn’t inexpensive, but Star Wars products benefit from a powerfully engaged target market, for whom it will be worth every penny.

So there it is. If you are a Star Wars fan and you play the piano: rejoice. And yes, that’s me. I absolutely love it!

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.