The Star Wars Imperial March Sounds Much Less Intimidating in the Style of Beethoven

The Imperial March from John Williams' score to Star Wars may be one of the most recognizable and intimidating themes in movie history. However, Darth Vader's theme takes on a completely different feel when played in a different style -- particularly that of Beethoven.

As shared by the digital radio station Classic FM, the late American composer and pianist Richard Grayson used to perform concerts in which he would ask the audience for a famous theme or song along with a specific composer's style and he would then, on the fly, improvise a version that combined the two requests. One of those requests? The Imperial March from Star Wars done in the style of a Beethoven piano sonata and as you can hear for yourself in the video above, Vader's theme takes on a far less intimidating tone.

Stripped of the bright trumpet blares in the original composition, the all-piano take on The Imperial Merch has a more cheerful and optimistic sound, a striking change from the low minor key's sonic implication of darkness. This Beethoven-esque take on the March also isn't the first time composers have played with the iconic tune and given it an entirely different feel. A few years ago, Soundcloud artist latozia switched The Imperial March from minor key to major key, significantly brightening the piece to something that sounded more like a victory march than a foreboding theme for a master villain.


The Imperial March has also been incorporated into the themes of other Star Wars films, most notably by Michael Giacchino, who incorporated the theme into his work for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He tucked elements of the theme a few places in the movie's music, but it's specifically clear at the very beginning of track "Hope". It will be interesting to see where else The Imperial March pops up as the Star Wars universe continues in future films.

What do you think about this take on Darth Vader's theme? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.