To celebrate the Star Wars holiday May the Fourth, Deutsche Grammophon has shared video of the series’ composer John Williams leading the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic through a rendition of his “Imperial March.”
“It was honestly one of the best presentations of that March I’ve ever heard,” Williams said of the performance. “They played it as though they owned it.”
In January, Williams served as conductor of the 178-year-old Vienna Philharmonic for the first time — “One of the great honors of my career,” he called the experience — to present a performance of his works from Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., the Harry Potter series and more.
“Imperial March” wasn’t initially a part of the evening’s program, but the Vienna Philharmonic’s brass section lobbed for its inclusion. “We played two rehearsals with the orchestra, at the end of which the orchestra management said: ‘Can we play the ‘Imperial March’ from Star Wars?’ And I hadn’t programmed that. I thought I had already asked the brass to play quite enough big music,” Williams said (via Classic FM).
“But as I understand it, the brass players in the orchestra themselves requested that we would play the ‘Imperial March.’ So, at the end of the rehearsal we played it, they had the music, everyone seemed to know it. I felt very grateful to them for giving me the chance to play it at the end of the program. I loved it.”
Williams led two Vienna Philharmonic performances, marking the first time he had ever served as conductor in continental Europe. “I couldn’t have been more happily surprised,” he added of the concerts. “I have to compliment the orchestra on their great virtuosity and fantastic ability to perform all styles of music.”
On August 14th, Deutsche Grammophon will release John Williams in Vienna, the full video and recording of that concert; the album is available to preorder now.