Star Wars: A New Hope / O.S.T.


aec.dsnd002585302.2 5/4/18 New
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    Star Wars: A New Hope / O.S.T. Walt Disney

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Review Text Today, this double-LP set seems a quaint anachronism from a generally silly decade, though much of the music -- including the opening fanfare, the music associated with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Ben Kenobi, and the Death Star motif -- still resonates 30 years later, so iconic has it become. In 1977, however, the Star Wars soundtrack fairly revolutionized the field of contemporary movie music, as well as energizing it like a lightning strike. There had been a few notable original orchestral scores during the '60s and '70s -- Maurice Jarre's soundtrack for Doctor Zhivago sold in the millions, and John Williams' Oscar-winning score for Jaws was also a landmark of sorts, but in the main, the music for movies was getting simpler and the soundtrack albums cheaper and shoddier in design and more disposable by the year. Additionally, the old guard among Hollywood's top orchestral composers was virtually gone by 1976 -- Bernard Herrmann had passed away at the start of the year, Alfred Newman was long gone, as were Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Dimitri Tiomkin was in retirement; only Miklós Rózsa remained active on an intermittent basis, and when his new soundtrack work was issued on LP, it was usually by specialty labels catering to a small audience. Then came Star Wars and its soundtrack by John Williams, two whole LPs of it played by the London Symphony Orchestra, handsomely designed and looking expensive and important, which matched the sound of the music. In one fell swoop, Williams' defiantly retro, late-19th century-style score, written in a mode and idiom that directly recalled Korngold (not to mention Gustav Holst and Richard Wagner, among many other composers from the concert hall), restored the old-fashioned, '40s-style full orchestral score to full vitality. And suddenly, a new generation of fans for such music, some as young as high school age, were seeking out the old soundtracks by Korngold, Steiner, Newman, Herrmann, Rózsa, et al., either in new pressings or new recordings where available or, just as often, in original releases at flea markets, garage sales, and thrift shops. Some of the music hasn't aged as well as one would have hoped, but most of it remains a breath of fresh air, and the best parts of the score still hold up. ~ Bruce Eder

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