I Think I Found James Horner’s Inspiration for ‘Willow’s Theme’

Have you ever listened to a piece of classical music and thought to yourself, “This sounds awfully familiar?” Plenty of people have dissected the main Star Wars theme to discover its classical roots, for example. But I recently found something a bit more obscure.

A Familiar Tune

I like to listen to a local radio station that plays nothing but classical music. About a week ago, I happened to hear a piece I had never heard before. Yet I had heard it before. It was a strange feeling of déjà vu.

Thankfully, I have a radio receiver that displays information on songs, including their names and composers/singers. So I memorized the words “Robert Schumann Rhenish Symphony No. 3.”

That was close enough to find the right piece of music on YouTube. The video I found is entitled “Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major ‘Rhenish,’ op. 97 (1850).”

Listen to the first 30 seconds of this, and tell me if it sounds familiar.

James Horner’s Inspiration?

Keep in mind that this musical work debuted in 1850. As it turns out, 138 years later a composer named James Horner used it as the inspiration for his main theme for the titular character of Willow. At least that’s my theory.

It’s crazy the similarities between the two. If Schumann didn’t inspire Horner, I don’t know what did. Seriously, listen to the beginning of this track from Willow entitled “Willow’s Theme,” and tell me it’s not directly lifted from “Rhenish.” They’re nearly carbon copies.

Borrowing for Willow

Of course, I’m not saying that Horner is a total plagiarist or anything like that. He’s a musical genius who wrote many incredible film scores over his decades-long career. And composers often reference themselves and others as they find their voices. There are plenty of great melodies in Willow that didn’t come from the minds of others.

I’m just saying that I think it’s clear as day that “Rhenish” inspired “Willow’s Theme.” They’re both beautiful pieces of music, and I enjoy listening to them. Hopefully you just found another great composer to listen to if you already enjoy the Willow soundtrack.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

Both videos are the copyright of their respective owners.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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5 Responses to I Think I Found James Horner’s Inspiration for ‘Willow’s Theme’

  1. It is not just that. He was “inspired” from a lot of other people too 🙂
    Check out the playlist that i left you in spotify. You will find a lot of other classical pieces

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Farah says:

    I just heard Robert Schumann Rhenish Symphony No. 3 on the radio and initially thought “oh it’s the soundtrack to Willow.” I do remember reading that James Horner was inspired, or liked to borrow elements from other classical works. I agree that he composed beautiful scores for movies. But what I always found interesting was that he borrowed themes from his own movies. Sometimes i think I’ll be listening to the soundtrack of one movie only to find it’s from another movie he composed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brent says:

    I agree, the style of Willow’s theme is very similar to Schumann’s No. 3, but the re-occurring melody in willow is from a traditional Hungarian folk song “Mir Stanke Le” (it’s on YouTube) . Like everyone else here, I heard this on CBC radio years ago, and instantly recognized it as Willow’s theme. I just watched the movie again today for the 1st time in years. It’s still good!

    Liked by 1 person

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