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About this Piece

Steven Spielberg was instrumental in another of John Williams’ most important artistic relationships when he introduced the composer to his friend George Lucas. The young filmmaker later showed Williams an early cut of Star Wars that used preexisting classical music as temporary score tracks. Williams would later write in the liner notes for the soundtrack album that those “temp tracks” showed that the otherworldly nature of the film’s setting could be grounded by familiar-sounding music, which in turn would bring home the film’s universal themes. He also tapped into the fantasy—rather than the sci-fi—nature of Star Wars, as he sought to write melody-driven Wagnerian leitmotifs for the film’s various characters and thematic concepts. “Princess Leia’s Theme” is a fairy-tale melody, beautifully orchestrated, which also showcases Williams’ affinity for the solo horn. David Cripps, principal horn with the London Symphony Orchestra, who recorded the original score, recently told the story of how this piece first came to life. As Cripps recalled, the brass players were thoroughly exhausted at the end of the session, and Williams asked them for another half hour to record just one more piece. The composer told the brass players not to worry, as this would be a “nice, quiet, gentle number.” Cripps said, “and then he looked at me with a smile and said, ‘David, I’ve written a little horn solo for you.’”