InReview InReview

Support independent journalism


Top five musical moments from The Empire Strikes Back


Adelaide Symphony Orchestra will bring the music of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back to life at a concert on May 4. Here, accompanied by the film clips, conductor Nicholas Buc shares his top moments from the score.

Print article

Han Solo and the Princess

This scene is one of the first major appearances of a new love theme written by John Williams for the blossoming relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia. Starting on French Horn, the theme passes to the woodwinds and grows in intensity until they are rudely interrupted by C-3PO.

The Asteroid Field

As Han and Chewie try to escape the Imperial fleet while simultaneously fixing the broken hyperdrive, Williams provides one of the best action cues of his career. An angular, Prokofiev-inspired string melody underscores the comedy, while the soaring brass theme that emerges towards the end is an inspired bit of character building for our favourite scoundrel Han.

Yoda Raises the Ship

Despite his diminutive stature, Yoda is given a reverent, noble theme that speaks to his immense sense of experience and wisdom. The music that accompanies the scene of him raising Luke’s X-Wing out of the swamp (using only the “Force”), is awe-inspiring as it builds to a triumphant brass fanfare that cements his place as the greatest Jedi master of them all.

Han Solo is Frozen

Darth Vader’s Imperial March opens this scene in the carbon freeze chamber, however it is the impassioned performance of Han and Leia’s love theme that steals the show. As the pair kiss and utter those immortal words (“I love you”…”I know”), the music swells to operatic proportions as Han is frozen in carbonite, underscored by pounding timpani and a final statement of Vader’s theme.

Through the Window

After a long, unscored light-saber duel between Luke and Darth Vader, this scene sees Vader finally get the upper hand by using the Force to hurl objects at Luke. An eerie silence is broken by high, tense strings and Vader’s breath as he confronts the young Skywalker. This is followed by a powerful statement of the Imperial March as Vader overpowers Luke, eventually sending him flying out the window and onto the platform below, where he will await his father’s fateful announcement…

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert will be presented by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on May 4 (known worldwide as Star Wars Day) at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre Arena. The orchestra will perform John Williams’ score live as the film plays on a large screen behind them.



Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here

. You are free to republish the text and graphics contained in this article online and in print, on the condition that you follow our republishing guidelines.

You must attribute the author and note prominently that the article was originally published by InReview.  You must also inlude a link to InReview. Please note that images are not generally included in this creative commons licence as in most cases we are not the copyright owner. However, if the image has an InReview photographer credit or is marked as “supplied”, you are free to republish it with the appropriate credits.

We recommend you set the canonical link of this content to to insure that your SEO is not penalised.

Copied to Clipboard

More Music stories

Loading next article