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Comments about the soundtrack for The Empire Strikes Back (John Williams)
Better than Episode IV

Mark - 224
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Dave
Better than Episode IV   Sunday, March 6, 2005 (3:55 a.m.) 

Yes Yes...

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Dave
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  In Response to:
Mark - 224

  Responses to this Comment:
Amuro
Karol
Re: Better than Episode IV   Tuesday, March 8, 2005 (12:07 p.m.) 

It's not just better than Episode IV, it's better than almost any score of ever made. People love to nitpick at this score, finding anything they can to justify why it's not the greatest score ever, but they come off sounding bitter. Most of them are Goldsmith/Horner apologists, anyway.

If James Horner ever came up with an original theme as good, as memorable as the Imperial March, Horner fanboys would cream themselves and proclaim it the best theme of all time. Williams fans aren't even sure if this is his best theme of the early '80s. Put another way: Williams has more original themes in this one score than Horner's had in his entire life.

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Amuro
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Dave

  Responses to this Comment:
Kokas, the Frog
Karol
Re: Better than Episode IV   Tuesday, March 8, 2005 (5:50 p.m.) 

> It's not just better than Episode IV, it's better than almost any score of
> ever made. People love to nitpick at this score, finding anything they can
> to justify why it's not the greatest score ever, but they come off
> sounding bitter. Most of them are Goldsmith/Horner apologists, anyway.

> If James Horner ever came up with an original theme as good, as memorable
> as the Imperial March, Horner fanboys would cream themselves and proclaim
> it the best theme of all time. Williams fans aren't even sure if this is
> his best theme of the early '80s. Put another way: Williams has more
> original themes in this one score than Horner's had in his entire life.

Alright, first of all, I agree, Empire is better than A New Hope. However, to those Horner statements... I think the theme from "Willow" is amazing in every way, I think its gorgeous. I also like all of the themes in "Legends of the Fall" and I think both of these scores are better than many of Williams' finest works. This does not mean that I am a Horner fanboy, I like Horner just as much as I like Williams, true, but then again, I like Elfman just as much, and Newman (of the Thomas variety) as just as much too. I try to see the good in every composer, and I try to like them equally, I realize sometimes this doesn' work, but still, it saves all the "fanboy" crap.

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Kokas, the Frog
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  In Response to:
Amuro

  Responses to this Comment:
Dave
JB
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (3:46 a.m.) 

> I think the theme from Willow is
> amazing in every way, I think its gorgeous.

Listen to the Rachmaninov's 2nd Symphony (2nd movement) and you will find the beginning of Willow theme. I like Willow score, but when I found out of this 'inspiration' I started to heard it in a different way.

Of course "Star Wars" scores resembles Gustav Holst's The Planets, but that's another story...:O But, hei!, I'm a John Williams fan, even that I also enjoy Danny Elfman, James Horner, Joe Hisaishi (a great composer), etc.


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Dave
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  In Response to:
Kokas, the Frog

  Responses to this Comment:
Josh
Rolan
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (1:23 p.m.) 

It's obvious to everyone that Star Wars borrows heavily from Holst and Wagner. Nobody will argue against that (if they're being serious).

But what the hell is this: "John Williams just writes good themes, nothing more."

Are you out of your f***ing mind?

Williams is (in most people's opinions, including mine) the best composer alive at composing themes, but he's also one of the top 2 or 3 at underscoring the mundane moments in a movie. Star Wars is not a good example of this, since just about every moment in the movie features a character or concept he has written a brand spanking new theme for. His incorporation of leitmotivs is what defines Star Wars, practically.

Many of Williams' other scores feature excellent underscoring without the use of leitmotivs: if you can buy the Hook bootleg, this is probably the best example available. There are a total of 35 cues on it (with a good array of thematic ingenuity and great underscoring), and maybe 3 of them aren't great.

Compare that with an average movie score which has one hastily penned main theme, a dozen cues of discordant atonal whining on brass and overly-simplistic string writing, and then a finale cue which sums up all the cues into one horrific ending.

As much as I think Horner is a derivative hack (whose scores hurt movies more than they enhance them), he is very accomplished at writing simple, string-dominated underscoring. Occasionally he'll throw in a four-note "evil motif." He should just stick to what he does best (producing best-selling songs with crappy singers who stretch an octave too high to simulate emotion) and leave brass-writing and thematic excellence to someone who can handle it. John Debney, John Williams, Danny Elfman, John Ottman, Michael Giacchino, Alan Silvestri, James Newton Howard... to name a few.

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Josh
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  In Response to:
Dave

  Responses to this Comment:
Amuro
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (3:02 p.m.) 

> It's obvious to everyone that Star Wars borrows heavily from Holst and
> Wagner. Nobody will argue against that (if they're being serious).

> But what the hell is this: "John Williams just writes good themes,
> nothing more."

> Are you out of your f***ing mind?

> Williams is (in most people's opinions, including mine) the best composer
> alive at composing themes, but he's also one of the top 2 or 3 at
> underscoring the mundane moments in a movie. Star Wars is not a good
> example of this, since just about every moment in the movie features a
> character or concept he has written a brand spanking new theme for.
> His incorporation of leitmotivs is what defines Star Wars, practically.

> Many of Williams' other scores feature excellent underscoring without the
> use of leitmotivs: if you can buy the Hook bootleg, this is probably the
> best example available. There are a total of 35 cues on it (with a good
> array of thematic ingenuity and great underscoring), and maybe 3 of them
> aren't great.

> Compare that with an average movie score which has one hastily penned main
> theme, a dozen cues of discordant atonal whining on brass and
> overly-simplistic string writing, and then a finale cue which sums up all
> the cues into one horrific ending.

> As much as I think Horner is a derivative hack (whose scores hurt movies
> more than they enhance them), he is very accomplished at writing simple,
> string-dominated underscoring. Occasionally he'll throw in a four-note
> "evil motif." He should just stick to what he does best
> (producing best-selling songs with crappy singers who stretch an octave
> too high to simulate emotion) and leave brass-writing and thematic
> excellence to someone who can handle it. John Debney, John Williams, Danny
> Elfman, John Ottman, Michael Giacchino, Alan Silvestri, James Newton
> Howard... to name a few.

AMEN! One of the things that originally made me really enjoy Williams' scores is the fact that he writes some really interesting underscore. Dave just described exactly how I feel about some of Horner's work. If anyone thinks that Williams does not write good underscore, they are insane.

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Amuro
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  In Response to:
Josh

  Responses to this Comment:
Dave
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (4:48 p.m.) 

> AMEN! One of the things that originally made me really enjoy Williams'
> scores is the fact that he writes some really interesting underscore. Dave
> just described exactly how I feel about some of Horner's work. If anyone
> thinks that Williams does not write good underscore, they are insane.

Star Trek II, Willow, The Rocketeer... don't talk bad about Horner's brass if you've heard these, they show great use of brass. And as far as all that stuff about stealing music... guess what?! EVERYONE DOES IT! Lesson one of music theory and composition... YOU'RE GONNA STEAL SOMETHING! I'll admit, Horner does it a lot, but you can't say Williams doesn't either... yeah, to say "The Planets (specifically Mars)" and "Star Wars" are similar doesn't do it justice, the attack on the death star is almost identical, except it has the star wars themes thrown in every so often. And then lets look at "Harry Potter" remarkably similar to "Schindler's List" right? Wow, amazing! Williams copied himself! And wait, how about "Episode II" the scene when Anakin and Padme leave for Naboo... then listen to "Burning the Town of Darian" from Glory... OH MY GOD THEY'RE SIMILAR!!!!!!!! WILLIAMS COPIED HORNER! EVERYONE DOES IT... GET OVER IT!

I'm 16... and I'm capable of understanding it...

Good Day,
Amuro

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Dave
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  In Response to:
Amuro

  Responses to this Comment:
Amuro
Mastadge
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (5:14 p.m.) 

Amuro,

There are two different James Horners. Don't confuse them.

1978 - 1995 Horner
1996 - 2005 Horner

1978-1995 Horner is a good, exciting young composer who at least had passion for what he did. He genuinely sounds like he is having fun- it really shows in his music. The Rocketeer captured the excitement of flying, Legends of the Fall captured the romance of the West.

1996-2005 Horner is dead inside. Sometime in the mid-to-late '90s, Horner said "to hell with it, I'll just give them a rehashed version of every score I've ever done. I can make a lot of money if I incorporate a sh*tty song at the end of my album. I'll do that as well." Every score made in this time period, sells well on album (because pre-teen girls want to buy memorabilia from the romance/chick flick which he has inevitably overscored), but severely detracts from the movie. He is one of the few composers alive who has managed to make movies worse with his score's inclusion.

2005-future: I see no reason to give Horner the benefit of the doubt; he's had a decade to get his act together, but he's decided that he'd rather rake in profit from sh*tty pop drivel.

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Amuro
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  In Response to:
Dave

  Responses to this Comment:
Admiral Hull
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (5:24 p.m.) 

> Amuro,

> There are two different James Horners. Don't confuse them.

> 1978 - 1995 Horner
1996 - 2005 Horner

> 1978-1995 Horner is a good, exciting young composer who at least had
> passion for what he did. He genuinely sounds like he is having fun- it
> really shows in his music. The Rocketeer captured the excitement of
> flying, Legends of the Fall captured the romance of the West.

> 1996-2005 Horner is dead inside. Sometime in the mid-to-late '90s, Horner
> said "to hell with it, I'll just give them a rehashed version of
> every score I've ever done. I can make a lot of money if I incorporate a
> sh*tty song at the end of my album. I'll do that as well." Every
> score made in this time period, sells well on album (because pre-teen
> girls want to buy memorabilia from the romance/chick flick which he has
> inevitably overscored), but severely detracts from the movie. He is one of
> the few composers alive who has managed to make movies worse with his
> score's inclusion.

> 2005-future: I see no reason to give Horner the benefit of the doubt; he's
> had a decade to get his act together, but he's decided that he'd rather
> rake in profit from sh*tty pop drivel.

Agreed, to an extent. I like "A Beautiful Mind" and I do belive "The Missing" was quite good.

"The Four Feathers" shows immense promise! And I don't think "Titanic" is that bad... its not like amazingly good, but its not too bad either. Yeah, there are two Horners, but I don't hate the second of the two as much as you obviously do (no problem with that, its a matter of opinion). But honestly I do hate the people who think Williams is some God and Horner is a hack... because they're both guilty of the same stuff.

Amuro


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Admiral Hull
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  In Response to:
Amuro

  Responses to this Comment:
roybatty
Re: Better than Episode IV   Tuesday, May 23, 2006 (7:43 a.m.) 

I believe James Horner is a great film composer. In fact he's one of my favorites, second only to John Williams. Then again I've only hear his older scores such as The Wrath of Kahn and Willow. On the other hand, I agree with the guy a few posts back: EVERYBODY STEALS STUFF! Also, although I love movie music as a passion, it is generally not created to be a singular entity or to be totally original; if a composer thinks that a peice of music he wrote five years ago for another film will fit perfectly in a new one, then by all means, let him put it in; however, I agree that the composer shouldn't use this method extensively.
As for the thematic thing, they're both good at writing themes and underscore, but I generally think John Williams is just a little bit better at both. If you listen to The Wrath of Kahn and compair it to The Empire Strikes Back, you will see that The Empire Strikes Back has much more variety in its score.
On a histroical note, the reason the original score for Star Wars sounds like Dvorak and Holst is because George Lucas was originally intending to create a soundtrack of pre-existing works, but then Spielburg happened along and suggested John Williams. Instead of letting the pre-fabricated score go to waste, Williams based much of his original score of the other material (and we all see what a fantastic finished product it was (no sarcasm)).
And to conclude, weren't we supposed to be talking about how Episode V is better than Episode IV, not how Williams is better than Horner and vise versa?

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roybatty
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  In Response to:
Admiral Hull
Re: Better than Episode IV   Tuesday, April 3, 2007 (4:35 a.m.) 

> I believe James Horner is a great film composer. In fact he's one of my
> favorites, second only to John Williams. Then again I've only hear his
> older scores such as The Wrath of Kahn and Willow . On the other hand,
> I agree with the guy a few posts back: EVERYBODY STEALS STUFF! Also,
> although I love movie music as a passion, it is generally not created to
> be a singular entity or to be totally original; if a composer thinks that
> a peice of music he wrote five years ago for another film will fit
> perfectly in a new one, then by all means, let him put it in; however, I
> agree that the composer shouldn't use this method extensively.
> As for the thematic thing, they're both good at writing themes and
> underscore, but I generally think John Williams is just a little bit
> better at both. If you listen to The Wrath of Kahn and compair it to
> The Empire Strikes Back , you will see that The Empire Strikes Back has
> much more variety in its score.
> On a histroical note, the reason the original score for Star Wars sounds
> like Dvorak and Holst is because George Lucas was originally intending to
> create a soundtrack of pre-existing works, but then Spielburg happened
> along and suggested John Williams. Instead of letting the pre-fabricated
> score go to waste, Williams based much of his original score of the other
> material (and we all see what a fantastic finished product it was (no
> sarcasm)).
> And to conclude, weren't we supposed to be talking about how Episode V is
> better than Episode IV, not how Williams is better than Horner and vise
> versa?

Actually, I'd say that John Williams has probably stolen more music than James Horner. The Star Wars Theme is virtually identical to the music from the old Hollywood movie "King's Row", 1942, with music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Also, I could never get over the similarity that the much-celebrated "Imperial March" bears to Chopin's Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, "Marche Funebre" - in the public domain, I believe. But the Vader music is still unoriginal as it's just a simple reworking/variation on the original Chopin melody.


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Mastadge
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  In Response to:
Dave
Re: Better than Episode IV   Friday, March 11, 2005 (5:57 p.m.) 

I'd say 1994, not 1995. LEGENDS OF THE FALL was great -- and while he has written two or three scores since then that I play fairly frequently, they're all very much in LOTF mode. BRAVEHEART and TITANIC particularly, I both enjoy, but they're both just LOTF redux, pretty much. Before that, yes -- KRULL, WILLOW, LAND BEFORE TIME, STAR TREK II . . . I love his stuff. Lots of fun. But he peaked with LOTF and while sometimes he's managed to approach that again, it's been too similar to what's gone before, and too passive.

One composer whom I don't understand the acclaim for is Alan Silvestri, though. JUDGE DREDD is great and BTTF is lots of fun, and PREDATOR's catchy but overrated, but to me, his most popular stuff such as THE MUMMY RETURNS is just noise.

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Rolan
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  In Response to:
Dave
Re: Better than Episode IV   Friday, June 30, 2006 (7:16 p.m.) 

> It's obvious to everyone that Star Wars borrows heavily from Holst and
> Wagner. Nobody will argue against that (if they're being serious).

> But what the hell is this: "John Williams just writes good themes,
> nothing more."

> Are you out of your f***ing mind?

> Williams is (in most people's opinions, including mine) the best composer
> alive at composing themes, but he's also one of the top 2 or 3 at
> underscoring the mundane moments in a movie. Star Wars is not a good
> example of this, since just about every moment in the movie features a
> character or concept he has written a brand spanking new theme for.
> His incorporation of leitmotivs is what defines Star Wars, practically.

> Many of Williams' other scores feature excellent underscoring without the
> use of leitmotivs: if you can buy the Hook bootleg, this is probably the
> best example available. There are a total of 35 cues on it (with a good
> array of thematic ingenuity and great underscoring), and maybe 3 of them
> aren't great.

> Compare that with an average movie score which has one hastily penned main
> theme, a dozen cues of discordant atonal whining on brass and
> overly-simplistic string writing, and then a finale cue which sums up all
> the cues into one horrific ending.

> As much as I think Horner is a derivative hack (whose scores hurt movies
> more than they enhance them), he is very accomplished at writing simple,
> string-dominated underscoring. Occasionally he'll throw in a four-note
> "evil motif." He should just stick to what he does best
> (producing best-selling songs with crappy singers who stretch an octave
> too high to simulate emotion) and leave brass-writing and thematic
> excellence to someone who can handle it. John Debney, John Williams, Danny
> Elfman, John Ottman, Michael Giacchino, Alan Silvestri, James Newton
> Howard... to name a few.

That's very true. I agree that Williams is brilliant with underscoring. If you listen carefully to the "bridging" sections you really gain an understanding of just how great the quality of music is. You really feel that he put the time into thinking of every note, dynamic, color, etc. As for brass writing, I'd say Williams is brilliant at that. I own a conductor's score of the Star Wars suite (which I managed to "acquire" from the Georgia Tech Music Department archives)and I carefully looked at it. You can see that Williams style of brass writing is very similar to both Holst and Shostakovich, but lacks the depth of the latter for obvious reasons (film scores have a tendency to be inferior in depth to say great works like Shostakovich 8th symphony). Regardless, I'd say that the greatest brass writer of all time would be Gustav Mahler. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Mahler is the greatest composer of large-scale orchestral music, in terms of color, dynamics, tone, timbre, etc. due to the fact that he probably knew the orchestra better than anyone else. Richard Strauss and Anton Bruckner came close. But that's a discussion for another day.


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JB
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  In Response to:
Kokas, the Frog

  Responses to this Comment:
Mark - 224
Rolan
Re: Better than Episode IV   Thursday, March 10, 2005 (12:22 p.m.) 

> Listen to the Rachmaninov's 2nd Symphony (2nd movement) and you will find
> the beginning of Willow theme. I like Willow score, but when
> I found out of this 'inspiration' I started to heard it in a different
> way.

Actually it's Schumann's Symphony no.3 "Rhenish", not the Rach 2. But it is interesting to note that Horner has borrowed several themes from classical pieces ever since the start. The 4-note "evil motif" is actually the opening motif from Rachmaninov's First Symphony, Star Trek III clearly incorporated music from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet, Troy had bits of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony and Vaughan-Williams' Thomas Tallis Fantasia/D. Arnold's Stargate theme, Khachaturian's Adagio from Gayaneh appeared in a slightly altered form in Aliens. I mean the list could really go on and on if you listened carefully enough. And then he copies his own music.

Well, I enjoy Horner's music, not for its derivatory nature but because I fell in love with his music when I heard Star Trek II when I was like ten, and then again I just don't care. But it would be great to have a truly original score to just experience a profound shock. Though unfortunately I'm not expecting that to happen...

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Mark - 224
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  In Response to:
JB
A L I E N S   Monday, April 11, 2005 (5:22 a.m.) 

I actually think that the classical piece heard in aliens sounded better in the Horner aarangement than it did in the version herad in 2004 (which should be identical to the original score the composer wrote - can't remember his name here)-

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Rolan
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JB
Re: Better than Episode IV   Friday, June 30, 2006 (7:05 p.m.) 

> Actually it's Schumann's Symphony no.3 "Rhenish", not the Rach
> 2. But it is interesting to note that Horner has borrowed several themes
> from classical pieces ever since the start. The 4-note "evil
> motif" is actually the opening motif from Rachmaninov's First
> Symphony, Star Trek III clearly incorporated music from Prokofiev's Romeo
> and Juliet ballet, Troy had bits of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony and
> Vaughan-Williams' Thomas Tallis Fantasia/D. Arnold's Stargate theme,
> Khachaturian's Adagio from Gayaneh appeared in a slightly altered form in
> Aliens. I mean the list could really go on and on if you listened
> carefully enough. And then he copies his own music.

> Well, I enjoy Horner's music, not for its derivatory nature but because I
> fell in love with his music when I heard Star Trek II when I was like ten,
> and then again I just don't care. But it would be great to have a truly
> original score to just experience a profound shock. Though unfortunately
> I'm not expecting that to happen...

Actually it is interesting to know the the four-note chromatic "evil" motif taken from Rachmaninoff's first symphony is used in a number of Horner scores from "Enemy at the Gates" to "Troy."


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Karol
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  In Response to:
Amuro
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (12:00 p.m.) 

> Alright, first of all, I agree, Empire is better than A New Hope. However,
> to those Horner statements... I think the theme from "Willow" is
> amazing in every way, I think its gorgeous. I also like all of the themes
> in "Legends of the Fall" and I think both of these scores are
> better than many of Williams' finest works. This does not mean that I am a
> Horner fanboy, I like Horner just as much as I like Williams, true, but
> then again, I like Elfman just as much, and Newman (of the Thomas variety)
> as just as much too. I try to see the good in every composer, and I try to
> like them equally, I realize sometimes this doesn' work, but still, it
> saves all the "fanboy" crap.

Good point. The themes heard in star trek 2 and 3, land before time, even the ones in commando, btw. an excellent action score, should be mentioned as well.

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Karol
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  In Response to:
Dave
Re: Better than Episode IV   Wednesday, March 9, 2005 (11:53 a.m.) 

> It's not just better than Episode IV, it's better than almost any score of
> ever made. People love to nitpick at this score, finding anything they can
> to justify why it's not the greatest score ever, but they come off
> sounding bitter. Most of them are Goldsmith/Horner apologists, anyway.

> If James Horner ever came up with an original theme as good, as memorable
> as the Imperial March, Horner fanboys would cream themselves and proclaim
> it the best theme of all time. Williams fans aren't even sure if this is
> his best theme of the early '80s. Put another way: Williams has more
> original themes in this one score than Horner's had in his entire life.

Dave, you have got a serious problem. As I have said before and now you have confirmed it: John Williams writes great themes, as the imperial march. And again, "Williams has more original themes in this one score than Horner's had in his entire life", excellent Dave, you have confirmed the second time what I wrote in my first statement concerning episode IV. Now I can discredit you. I agree, he has written excellent and memorable themes, but that's it, only themes, nothing more. That's why Horner is the better composer to me. Maybe Horner hasn't written as many great themes as Williams has, but they are great. His scores viewed as a whole are more listenable and enjoyable in my opinion than to ones done by Williams.

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