Charlotte Talks: John Williams' Musical Legacy Goes Beyond A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Dec 17, 2019

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019

You don't have to be a fan of the "Star Wars" saga to know its signature sounds, from lightsaber fights to Darth Vader's gasps. But nothing is more iconic than its music, created by a composer who's an icon in his own right, John Williams.

The 1958 B-movie "Daddy-O" doesn't have many redeeming qualities, except for two things. It provided grist for Comedy Central's "Mystery Science Theater 3000," especially the film's song, "Rock Candy Baby."

It was also the film scoring debut of John Williams.

Williams has gone on to score more than 100 films, three of which are on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movie scores in American history: "E.T.", "Jaws" and, topping the list, "Star Wars."

Williams' legacy isn't just on the silver screen. There's his music for NBC News and the Olympics, among others.

John Williams conducting with the Boston Pops in 2011.
Credit Flickr / Chris Devers

But it will be his relationship with "Star Wars" for which Williams will be remembered the most.

This hour, ahead of the release of Williams' final "Star Wars" score, we consider his place in music history.


Neil Lerner, Davidson College, chair of the Department of Music

Frank Lehman, Tufts University, associate professor of music; author of the Complete Catalogue of Musical Themes in Star Wars (@fmlehman)