Pianist instantly transforms John Williams’ Harry Potter theme into epic Baroque counterpoint

16 April 2021, 22:17 | Updated: 17 April 2021, 00:02

Gabriela Montero Hary Potter
Gabriela Montero Hary Potter. Picture: Getty

By Kyle Macdonald

With just 10 seconds’ notice, star Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero takes a famous movie theme, and transforms it into an elaborate piece of Baroque counterpoint.

Here’s an astonishing act of musical inventiveness and spontaneity, all with a favourite movie theme.

Back in 2015, we met Venezuelan virtuoso Gabriela Montero, who’s famous for her improvisations and spontaneous compositions. We couldn’t resist asking her for a display of musical wizardry.

John Williams’ ‘Hedwig’s Theme’, from the film series Harry Potter, is now one of the most widely-known and loved pieces of movie music, with a very distinctive main motif. On an iPhone, we gave Gabriela a quick listen, and let her take it to the piano.

Quiz: Is it a Harry Potter spell or a musical term? >

With her inventive, musical mind activated, the pianist immediately transformed the theme into something like a Baroque toccata, with quick passing notes and rapid figurations. After a few bars, she then begins to improvise a sustained pedal point in her left hand... and an elaborate Toccata in the style of JS Bach, begins to take life.

It’s an astonishing act of skill, musicianship and spontaneity. Watch it happen below.

Gabriela Montero turns Harry Potter into Baroque counterpoint

It’s interesting to note that, in Baroque times, such improvisations on popular themes would have been common. Bach himself was known to take to the harpsichord or organ and spontaneously create fugues and fantasies to delight audiences and push his own musical ideas and creativity.

After her Baroque outing, Gabriela also fancied taking the famous film theme to South America, giving another improvisation on these notes, but infused with the music and hymns of her native country. It’s amazing to hear a few notes, seen through the wonderful, varied prism that is music.

Watch more of Gabriela’s amazing improvisations and compositions on her YouTube channel.

Harry Potter – with a Venezuelan twist