John Williams wins his 25th Grammy, for ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite’

27 January 2020, 12:55 | Updated: 27 January 2020, 17:15

John Williams wins 25th Grammy Award
John Williams wins 25th Grammy Award. Picture: Getty

By Helena Asprou

Williams penned the score for the spectacular symphonic suite after being inspired by a Disneyland theme park attraction – and now it makes music history with a Grammy Award win.

Last night, legendary film composer John Williams took home the award for Best Instrumental Composition at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

Hosted by Alicia Keys at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, this year’s Awards saw Williams scoop his 25th Grammy – for his masterpiece Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite.

The prestigious accolade comes 45 years after the 87-year-old won his first Grammy Award (and 58 years after his first nomination) cementing his status as one of the most successful composers in music history.

Read more: John Williams receives his 52nd Oscar nomination for ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ score >

His spectacular five-minute suite – subtitled ‘Music inspired by the Disney themed land’ – was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road and released by Walt Disney Records in 2019, ahead of the opening of the ‘Black Spire Outpost on planet Batuu’ ride at Anaheim’s Disneyland resort.

It contains multiple themes, counter-melodies and even a fugal moment, and can be heard by park-goers around the famous Disney resort. The piece is the first Williams has written for Star Wars that’s unrelated to his original music for the franchise.

Composer-arranger William Ross, who collaborated with Williams on the piece and has been adapting Williams’ music from the Star Wars films for Disneyland’s Star Tours for the past decade, said: “This was a new world, with its own identity away from the movies.

“We wanted to enhance the immersive-theater quality of the land with a new composition, and that seemed to intrigue him. He signed on for it... and it’s been a fantastic adventure.

“One of the things we’re trying to inspire in our guests is this sense of awe and wonder. There’s an optimism, a sense of adventure; you go on a journey in this five-minute piece.”

Williams also received a nomination for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella at last night’s Awards, for his enchanting version of ‘Hedwig’s Theme’, which he recorded with virtuoso violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

The collaboration was a newly arranged version of the song, which first became popular with film fans after featuring in the 2001 fantasy movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Williams told Variety: “I’ve taken things that I’ve known for years, set a certain way, and translated and transported them. Presented on the violin, they become a different emotional experience.”

He also described Mutter as “the greatest violinist that Germany has produced in a hundred years.”

Read more: John Williams and Anne-Sophie Mutter release new collaborative album ‘Across the Stars’ >

However, English composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist, Jacob Collier, took home this year’s Grammy, for his stunning arrangement of ‘Moon River’ – an a cappella rendition of the Henry Mancini and Jonny Mercer classic, originally performed by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

To celebrate WIlliams’ 25th Grammy Award win, fans have been taking to Twitter to share their excitement:

Other classical artists to win a 2020 Grammy Award included Joyce DiDonato, who took home Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for Songplay, while Best Orchestral Performance went to the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel, for their impressive rendition of Andrew Norman’s ‘Sustain’.

A well deserved win all round. Congratulations, John Williams!