News | March 14, 2024

John Williams’s Handwritten Music Manuscript for Star Wars Sold for $49,290

RR Auction

An original post-production music manuscript from composer John Williams containing the iconic Star Wars (Main Title) theme

Given only six weeks to create the Star Wars movie score, composer John Williams ended up with 88 minutes of music which translated to about 800 pieces of sheet music. After recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, the score was sent to be edited at Samuel Goldwyn Studios by Lionel Newman, Head of the Music Department, and Len Engel, music supervisor. 

As thanks for helping to bring the project together, Williams gave Engel his handwritten sheet music for the film’s opening title track, Star Wars Main Title. Used in the post production stage, the manuscript contains Williams’s handwritten music notes along with instruments and directions: “Maestoso,” “6tpts,” “4 troms,” and “Stg.” Prominently featured in the center is an inscription, “To Len – In appreciation for a treasured friendship – John.” 

At RR Auction's recent Remarkable Rarities sale, the manuscript went for $49,290.

In reflecting on their friendship, Engel’s step grandson said in a letter of provenance: “Len became a working partner with Williams on all of his movies, taking them from the composer sheets to the finished product ready for distribution…This sheet music was gifted in appreciation of their working together on the Star Wars films.”

Other sale highlights included a signed edition of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book which fetched $250,000, and a George Washington signed check, which sold for $135,473.