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"John Williams has a score of unstinting dimension, soaring string sections and thundering basses and brilliant horns, which performed by the London Symphony Orchestra for the superlative sound system, lifts you out of your seat."
Charles Champlin[src]

The first score to Star Wars was composed and conducted by John Williams and orchestrated by Herbert Spencer (who orchestrated all three films of the Original Trilogy). Recorded over fourteen sessions[1] at Anvil Studios in Denham, England from March 5, 8–12, 15 and 16, 1977[2] , the score was performed by the 87-piece London Symphony Orchestra.[1]

The film premiered on May 25, 1977 and by late summer a disco version of the Star Wars Theme by Meco became America's number one song. Williams received three Grammys in February 1978 and his third Academy Award (second for Best Original Score) in April.

Background[]

The original OST for "Star Wars" was first released on LP by 20th Century Fox Records in 1977. For this release, John Williams personally selected 74 minutes from the 88 minute score, and the cues were re-ordered and cross faded together with the intent of creating a pleasant listening experience. The versions of the cues used on this release are not the film mixes made by Eric Tomlinson, but rather remixes made by John Neal specifically for the album.[2] Further, we know that John Neal made these mixes using the 16-track tapes from the recording sessions.[3][4]

The original OST was later released on CD by Polydor in 1986. This release used the exact same masters as the original LP, so it contains the same edited program and the same mixes by John Neal. The only real difference between the original LP and the Polydor disc is the higher quality audio of CD over vinyl.

The original OST masters were rereleased in a different format one last time by Sony Classical right before they lost the rights in 2016 as part of the "Ultimate Digital Collection". This release was sourced from a new high quality scan of the OST master, so it still featured the John Neal mixes and all the original edits. However, the Ultimate Digital Collection was available from sites like HDTracks in lossless 192 kHz/24-bit, where the Polydor CD would've been standard CD quality which is 44.1 kHz/16-bit. This means that the 2016 Sony release is the highest possible quality version of the original OST master ever made available to the public. The Ultimate Digital Collection is no longer available for sale, and hasn't been ever since Walt Disney Records took over the rights.

A three-LP 40th anniversary box set was released on December 1, 2017 by Walt Disney Records.[5] Remastered editions of the soundtracks for Episodes I-VI were released on May 4, 2018.[6] Given that this came out before the 2018 Remastered sets, it is likely that this used the 2016 OST master scans, just like the Ultimate Digital Collection. However, since it is an LP release, it doesn't have high quality audio and can be considered a reissue of the original 1977 LP. The third LP in this release was just a bonus disc with one siding duplicating the track "The Last Battle" again (not to be confused with the cue of the same name), and with the other side just having a fancy logo etched on it.[7]

Track listing and cue breakdown[]

LP:[]

OST cover (1977 20th Century Records)

Side One:

  1. Main Title – 5:20
    1. 0:00-2:07 : [1m2] Main Title
    2. 2:07-end : [12m2] End Titles
  2. Imperial Attack – 6:10
    1. 0:00-3:14 : [1m3] The War (microedited : missing 23 seconds)
    2. 3:14-end : [1m4-2m1] The Escape Hatch
  3. Princess Leia's Theme – 4:18
    1. 0:00-end : The Princess Theme
  4. The Desert and the Robot Auction – 2:51
    1. 0:00-0:52 : [1m5-2m1] Desert Song (ending cuts off early : missing 3 seconds)
    2. 0:52-end : [2m3 Rev.] More Little People

Side Two:

  1. Ben's Death and TIE Fighter Attack – 3:46
    1. 0:00-2:03 : [9m3-10m1] Ben's Death
    2. 2:03-end : [10m2] Here They Come
  2. The Little People Work – 4:02
    1. 0:00-end : [2m3 New] The Little People
  3. Rescue of the Princess – 4:46
    1. 0:00-2:05 : [8m2 Rev.] The Rescue
    2. 2:05-end : [9m2] The Swashbucklers
  4. Inner City – 4:12
    1. 0:00-1:34 : [7m1 New] Is it a Bird? (ending cuts off early : missing 2 seconds)
    2. 1:34-3:07 : [4m2] Obi-Wan Kenobi (ending cuts off early : missing 2 seconds)
    3. 3:07-end : [5m6 Rev.] The Inner City (3:07-end) (microedited: missing 30 seconds)
  5. Cantina Band – 2:44
    1. 0:00-end : "Cantina Band" (ending artificially faded out)

Side Three:

  1. The Land of the Sandpeople – 2:50
    1. 0:00-1:01 : [3m3 Rev.] The Sand Speeder (ending cuts off early : missing 8 seconds)
    2. 1:01-end : [3m4-4m1 Rev.] The Sandman Attacks (microedited : missing 20 seconds)
  2. Mouse Robot and Blasting Off – 4:01
    1. 0:00-2:01 : [7m2] The Mouse Robot
    2. 2:01-end : [6m1] Blasting Away (microedited : missing 15 seconds)
  3. The Return Home – 2:46
    1. 0:00-end : [4m4A] A Home Destroyed
  4. The Walls Converge – 4:31
    1. 0:00-2:58 : [8m4] The Walls Converge (ending cuts off early : missing 9 seconds)
    2. 2:58-end : [8m3 Rev.] The Water Snake
  5. The Princess Appears – 4:04
    1. 0:00-1:50 : [3m1 Rev.] The Princess Appears
    2. 1:50-end : [3m2 New] Lost R2

Side Four:

  1. The Last Battle – 12:05
    1. 0:00-1:55 : [8m2 New] More Rescue (ending cuts off early : missing 5 seconds)
    2. 1:55-4:25 : [9m1] Ben Creeps Around (ending cuts off early : missing 9 seconds)
    3. 4:25-7:38 : [11m2 Rev.] Approaching the Target (ending cuts off early : missing 11 seconds)
    4. 7:38-end : [12m1] The Last Battle
  2. The Throne Room and End Title – 5:28
    1. 0:00-1:50 : [12m2] End Titles (only first 1:50)
    2. 1:50-2:16 : [12m2X] End Titles
    3. 2:16-end : [12m2] End Titles (only last 3:12)

Total Time: 74:58

CD:[]

OST cover (1986 Polydor)

  1. Main Theme – 5:20
    1. 0:00-2:07 : [1m2] Main Title
    2. 2:07-end : [12m2] End Titles
  2. Imperial Attack – 6:10
    1. 0:00-3:14 : [1m3] The War (microedited : missing 23 seconds)
    2. 3:14-end : [1m4-2m1] The Escape Hatch
  3. Princess Leia's Theme – 4:18
    1. 0:00-end : The Princess Theme
  4. The Desert and the Robot Auction – 2:51
    1. 0:00-0:52 : [1m5-2m1] Desert Song (ending cuts off early : missing 3 seconds)
    2. 0:52-end : [2m3 Rev.] More Little People
  5. Ben's Death and TIE Fighter Attack – 3:46
    1. 0:00-2:03 : [9m3-10m1] Ben's Death
    2. 2:03-end : [10m2] Here They Come
  6. The Little People Work – 4:02
    1. 0:00-end : [2m3 New] The Little People
  7. Rescue of the Princess – 4:46
    1. 0:00-2:05 : [8m2 Rev.] The Rescue
    2. 2:05-end : [9m2] The Swashbucklers
  8. Inner City – 4:12
    1. 0:00-1:34 : [7m1 New] Is it a Bird? (ending cuts off early : missing 2 seconds)
    2. 1:34-3:07 : [4m2] Obi-Wan Kenobi (ending cuts off early : missing 2 seconds)
    3. 3:07-end : [5m6 Rev.] The Inner City (microedited: missing 30 seconds)
  9. Cantina Band – 2:44
    1. 0:00-end : "Cantina Band" (ending artificially faded out)
  10. The Land of the Sandpeople – 2:50
    1. 0:00-1:01 : [3m3 Rev.] The Sand Speeder (ending cuts off early : missing 8 seconds)
    2. 1:01-end : [3m4-4m1 Rev.] The Sandman Attacks (microedited : missing 20 seconds)
  11. Mouse Robot and Blasting Off – 4:01
    1. 0:00-2:01 : [7m2] The Mouse Robot
    2. 2:01-end : [6m1] Blasting Away (microedited : missing 15 seconds)
  12. The Return Home – 2:46
    1. 0:00-end : [4m4A] A Home Destroyed
  13. The Walls Converge – 4:31
    1. 0:00-2:58 : [8m4] The Walls Converge (ending cuts off early : missing 9 seconds)
    2. 2:58-end : [8m3 Rev.] The Water Snake
  14. The Princess Appears – 4:04
    1. 0:00-1:50 : [3m1 Rev.] The Princess Appears
    2. 1:50-end : [3m2 New] Lost R2
  15. The Last Battle – 12:05
    1. 0:00-1:55 : [8m2 New] More Rescue (ending cuts off early : missing 5 seconds)
    2. 1:55-4:25 : [9m1] Ben Creeps Around (ending cuts off early : missing 9 seconds)
    3. 4:25-7:38 : [11m2 Rev.] Approaching the Target (ending cuts off early : missing 11 seconds)
    4. 7:38-end : [12m1] The Last Battle
  16. The Throne Room and End Title – 5:28
    1. 0:00-1:45 : [12m2] End Titles (only first 1:45)
    2. 1:45-2:16 : [12m2X] End Titles
    3. 2:16-end : [12m2] End Titles (only last 3:13)

Total Time: 74:58

Recording Information[]

Orchestra[]

Woodwind: 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets, 2 bassoons

Brass: 8 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 tubas

Percussion: Timpani, 3 percussion

Keyboards: Piano, Celeste

Strings: 2 harps, 14 first violins, 12 second violins, 10 violas, 10 cellos, 6 double basses

Cantina Band: 3 saxophones, 1 trumpet, 1 clarinet, Fender Rhodes piano, steel drum, Arp synthesizer, drum kit, and percussion

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1977 Star Wars Theatrical Souvenir Program
  2. 2.0 2.1 Liner notes of the 1977 LP soundtrack release, notes written by Charles Lippincott
  3. Malone, Chris: Recording the Star Wars Saga (PDF) (2012-03-18). Malone Digital. Archived from the original on June 19, 2022.
  4. Jay: Some John Williams master tapes are on ebay right now.... (2014-01-19). John Williams Fan Network. Archived from the original on June 19, 2022.
  5. StarWars.com Star Wars: A New Hope Soundtrack Vinyl Box Set Coming December 1 on StarWars.com (backup link)
  6. StarWars.com Remasters of the First 6 Star Wars Soundtracks Coming May 4 on StarWars.com (backup link)
  7. Reif, Alex: Vinyl Review: Star Wars 40th Anniversary 3-LP Collector's Edition with Hologram Disc (2017-12-20). laughingplace.com. Archived from the original on June 21, 2022.
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