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FILM MUSIC TRANSCRIPTIONS

2006 was a year of an emerging collaboration between Lühl and Hollywood's legendary composer John Williams (b.1932). As a long-time admirer of the works Willams created for the motion picture, Lühl started to adapt his greatest hits for piano solo and two pianos. Roughly one year later, about 70 works have been arranged with true professionalism, including all six Star Wars epics, the three first Harry Potter films, the Indiana Jones tetralogy, E.T., Superman, almost all the films of the Spielberg/Williams collaboration since Jaws (1975), and many more.

All the notes of the original orchestral scores were considered and included in the new heavy piano score, providing a totally new conception of an soundtrack which was originally written for orchestra. Five Oscars later, Williams hasn't lost his melodic taste for the screen and it is only in 2012 that Lühl received the opportunity to record the fruits of this unique collaboration at his label Polymnie, sometimes even including the formidable "re-recording" process, having Lühl perforing his arrangements on two different pianos.

J. Willimas portrait

WILLIAMS' WORK

Every composer has his own method of working. Williams, after composing his themes and main musical atmospheres of the movie at the piano, writes down a particell for a smaller orchestra (10 to 12 instruments) and leaves the final orchestration, because of lack of time, to his orchestrators.


He is one of the rare composers today to write by hand. The majority of composers use increasingly complex software. Then the editor prints the separate parts for each instrument of the orchestra and the last minute changes occur during rehearsals or the recording sessions while synchronizing with the film. Once the music is completely recorded it can be cut for future video editing which breaks the musical structure. Unfortunately more often sudden cuts are made to enhance the image which then damages the quality of the musical integrity. Once the music for the film is completely composed and entirely recorded (in parts rejected or recomposed according to the director’s instructions), Williams creates a concert suite of the best musical moments of the film, consisting of the main themes to be played individually on stage during a film music concert.


For example, we have the scores of a Children’s Suite from Harry Potter I, three pieces from Schindler’s List, a concert suite from Episodes IV, V and VI from Star Wars and a long symphonic piece from E.T. which do not match with the film chronology, but for which Williams created entirely new passages in order to build a genuine work of art which speaks for itself.

J. Williams composing

 

LÜHL’S WORK

To reach a wider audience these themes which haunt the minds of admiring viewers, many composers arrange – sometimes even anonymously – pieces for piano assembling the best parts of films whose music is by John Williams. However, these arrangements destined for amateur pianists cut the pieces dramatically and simplify them to the point that one cannot recognize the original score. This weaker retranscription destroys by its reduction to its simplest form the character of the work. A work of nine minutes for orchestra can be compressed into two pages for piano and last much less longer; just for the pleasure of saying that one is capable of playing the 'ET theme'. The quality of these scores do no do justice to the original for the purists and the fans and several pianists only dream of one thing: to one day relive the musical journey in a realistic way by playing the complete work.


Lühl started adapting John Williams'works for piano solo and two pianos in a desire to make the public aware of John Williams’ music from another angle: the symphonic piano with all its variety of sound that this magnificent instrument is capable of producing. All this symphonic dimension should be faithfully executed by two or four hands. He does not use sketches and writes directly without a draft, first for two pianos, then he condenses this version for piano solo, exploiting all the possibilities and even going beyond this. Since 2005 he has arranged almost 60 titles (more than 1000 pages of manuscripts): Indiana Jones, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the first three Harry Potter films – Williams stopped after the third one –, including four Olympics anthems Williams received as commissions since 1984. Lühl explores all the facettes of the instrument, using contemporary techniques on the piano which recall the bongos, the cymbals, the bass drum, the chimes and even the harp. Everything contributes to the realism of the atmosphere being retraced: hitting the piano lid and creating wooden sounds, pinching strings, use of other body parts than only the fingers (nails, palms of the hands, knees, even at the same time while playing). Finally, he is able to hear the definitive versions of the pieces he dreamt about in his childhood.


luhl compositeur 3