OTHER TOLKIEN WORKS

Op. 5 - The Black Gate Is Closed

Scored for soloists, chorus and orchestra (subsequently revised)

The Black Gate is closed was the first of Paul's operas to be written, during the period 1967-69.  It was originally conceived for an extremely large and rather bizarrely constituted orchestra (including quadruple woodwind, six horns, eight recorders and six saxophones), but this version proceeded only as far as the end of the first scene before he started again on a rather more modest and less extravagant scale.  At this time, and for some time afterwards, it was entitled The Doom, and three orchestral suites were extracted from the score under that name.  The score was complete, apart from some passages of particularly heavy orchestration which remained in sketch form.

The whole opera was then incorporated into my plans for a thirteen-evening operatic cycle on The Lord of the Rings, of which it would have formed the ninth evening. At that time the original title was dropped, and the more authentically Tolkienian The Black Gate is closed was substituted.

It was his original intention that only the suites, now published separately with some revision under their later title, should be made available. The work on the original score was too primitive to be incorporated satisfactorily into the complete cycle, although three short excerpts were extracted for separate publication and reworked for that purpose. The Song of the Fisherman was included as one of the Tolkien Songs, the Oliphaunt chorus was extracted as a separate item for male choir (although never published in that form), and Faramir’s Dream was also reworked as a solo aria for tenor. These three extracts, all somewhat remodelled from their original, were included in the score of The Lord of the Rings: fragments and episodes.

In 2021, during Paul's revisiting and finishing of his Lord of the Rings section of the Tolkien Cycle (now intended to be performed over a slightly more modest 6 evenings) The Black Gate is Closed was extensively overhauled, now thematically linked to the other material, and reorchestrated in line with the rest of the cycle.  The three acts of what was The Black Gate is closed now become chapters of the third and fourth sections of The Lord of the Rings.

The arrow below will take you to the page for the revised work.

Op. 5a - The Black Gate Is Closed, Suites 1-3

Scored for orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

The Black Gate is closed has many faults of dramatic pacing and orchestral balance; but some parts of the score were always too good to be lost, and one section (the Prelude to the Third Act, which opens the third of these Suites), found its way substantially unchanged into The Children of Húrin.  In these suites, too, there may be seen the original germs for themes that were afterwards developed in a different manner and subsequently incorporated into later work.

The original version of the motif of the Ring had already been rhythmically and melodically altered, whilst retaining its original harmonic outline, some three years later when it found its way into The Hobbit and from there, later again, into the Akallabêth and Beren and Lúthien.  Gollum’s theme also found its way, melodically changed, into The Hobbit; but the ‘hobbit’ theme itself was not changed at all. Although the ‘Sauron’ motif used in The Hobbit and Beren and Lúthien also derived from work in The Black Gate is closed, it only figures briefly in the Suites, and in both cases in a slightly changed rhythmic form. There is also a hint of the Shelob theme which later (in a rhythmically changed version) became the theme for Ungoliant in Fëanor.

At the original time of writing the instrumentation of the Suites was reduced for a normal-sized orchestra. The passages chosen for inclusion were largely the orchestral interludes between scenes, and as such do not give a completely rounded impression of the opera as a whole; but each of the suites does present, in chronological order, sections from each of the individual Acts. As such they may be fairly said to give an overview of that section of the complete work. There are some brief extracts from the vocal sections (the Fisherman’s song is one; another is the Oliphaunt chorus), where the vocal parts have been rescored into the orchestra. 

 

The full orchestration of the original suites was never completed, having the same lacunae as the full score from which they derived; this was rectified when they were extracted for publication in 1998. At the same time some alterations were made to the barring of the original, and some minor amendments were made to the orchestration. The temptation to alter various of the themes to what might be regarded as their more ‘familiar’ later guises was, however, resisted.

Op. 8c - The Hobbit, Suites 1& 2

Scored for orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

The habit of extracting orchestral suites from larger-scale works has tended to fall into disuse, at any rate in the operatic field, during the twentieth century.  In the days of Rimsky-Korsakov, for example, it was the standard procedure for composers themselves regularly to publish an orchestral suite of music from each of their operas, often composing additional linking material in order to do so.  In the twentieth century suites have been adapted from operas by Britten, Walton and Tippett among others, but these have more usually been the work of other hands; only Vaughan Williams in this country regularly made a habit of producing a suite from each of his larger operas.  These suites (and others from my operas) are in part an attempt to revive the custom, and in each case some considerable adaptation of the original material has been made in order to create a unified whole.

 

Over Hill and Under Hill

 

These two suites contain extracts from both the operas, Over Hill and Under Hill and Fire and Water, but intermingle them; thus the movement entitled The banners of lake and wood comes in fact from Fire and Water, where it forms an interlude following the death of Smaug.  The two suites are however unified by the theme of the Shire, stated at the beginning of the first movement of the first suite (after the opening chords) by the cellos and restated with variations in both suites, finally appearing at the very end of Fire and Water as Bilbo returns to his home.  The first movement is a combination of the prelude to Act One of Over Hill and Under Hill with the first interlude (which follows the initial meeting of Bilbo and Gandalf) and presents the Shire theme itself followed by three variations of increasing elaboration. The second movement consists of the second interlude from Act One, as the company set out into the Wilderlands, continues into a brief interlude from Act Two describing the valley of Rivendell, and concludes with the extended interlude which describes The finding of the Ring. This begins with the music which accompanies Bilbo’s actual discovery of the Ring and then continues into a dark and sombre passage which portrays the grim significance of this discovery, in a passage which subsequently found employment in Beren and Lúthien; finally this dissolves into a slow dripping figure on the vibraphone, as the scene changes to the cave of Gollum and prepares for his appearance.

The last movement of the first suite, The banners of lake and wood, begins with the themes associated with Bard and the Master of Esgaroth; it then reprises the melody first heard in Act One of Fire and Water and sung to the words “The King beneath the Mountain” (although the actual setting of the words is lost).  The whole is then repeated with variations before the theme of the Elvenking heralds the arrival of Thranduil’s army at Esgaroth.

 

Fire and Water

 

The second Hobbit suite draws entirely from the final Act of Fire and Water.  It opens with the massive funeral march for Thorin Oakenshield, continues with the music associated with the return of Bilbo and Gandalf to Rivendell, and concludes with Bilbo’s song as he reaches his home.  In between there is a flashback to the interlude before the Battle of the Five Armies; this opens with Bard’s theme and then gives another variation on the Shire theme, reduced to a series of slow-moving chords, as Bilbo stands on watch and hears the drumbeats and trumpet-calls sounding in the early morning light.  Bilbo’s song brings a final citation of the Shire theme:

Eyes that fire and sword have seen

and horror in the halls of stone

look at last on meadows green

and hills and trees they long have known.

Op. 9 - Tolkien Songs

Scored for voice and piano

The Tolkien Songs were written (and re-written) during the early 1970s and were all conceived as part of an extensive cycle on The Lord of the Rings.  They have all been subsequently orchestrated and in this form are included in the Episodes and Fragments published in 2001.  Quite apart from their existence as fragments of The Lord of the Rings, a number have also found further employment elsewhere. Strider is developed as part of the conclusion of the one-act episode Tom Bombadil; the Song of the Eagle is found in a transposed version for violin and harp (or oboe and piano) as one of the Three Romances; the Song of the Wanderer became the third of the same Romances, and also exists as the final scene of Fire and Water; the Drinking Song was incorporated into the central section of Mead beneath the leaves, the third of the Four winds for chamber ensemble; and the Song of the Prisoner was incorporated, in an altered version, into Beren and Lúthien, as are quotations from Farewell to Lórien (which is set to Tolkien’s own improvised tune).

Op. 10 - Tom Bombadil

Scored for soloists and orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

This score formed part of a massive cycle which Paul planned in the 1970s with texts from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  The score was substantially completed in short score in the summer of 1976 but was then abandoned.  In preparing the final version in 1998 he completed the episode in accordance with the original plans and sketches, and the orchestration was completed as far as possible from those sketches, with only minor amendments to the original short score for reasons of practicability.

This 1998 version was slightly cut and then became part of Paul's final version of The Lord of the Rings completed in 2021.

Click on the arrow below to be taken to the page for the final version.

Op. 11 - The Grey Havens

Scored for soloists, chorus and orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

This episode originated in the song The Sea Bell written in the early 1970s and was then expanded and completed in vocal score during the following years.  However I always  regarded  the  final  segment  as unsatisfactory, and when I was orchestrating the piece in 2001 I took the opportunity to compose a new ending drawing on material from similar scenes in The Silmarillion

It is this revised version which is included in the collected edition; the original manuscript is lodged in the Welsh Music Archive at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

This 2001 version was underwent further cuts and revisions to become the epilogue of Paul's final version of The Lord of the Rings completed in 2021.

Click on the arrow below to be taken to the page for the final version.

Op. 11a - The Sea Bell

Scored for tenor and piano or orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

Although the very long ballad The Sea Bell originated from the same period as the earlier Tolkien Songs, it can be regarded as in many ways the original germ from which The Silmarillion grew.

It was at a very early stage extended by the addition of the closing scenes from The Lord of the Rings to become part of The Grey Havens. The main theme (which recurs many times in the course of the ballad) was then adapted to become the principal melody of the slow movement of the third symphony Ainulindalë, and from there found its way into all five parts of The Silmarillion as one of the principal themes associated with the Elves (and, in a further adaptation, it also forms the main material of the work for flute and piano Daeron).

This version of this ballad and opus number applies for the complete early version.  When it is used in the final 2021 version of The Lord of the Rings it is heavily cut and modified from this original and falls under the opus number for that work.

Op. 13 - Songs of the Mark

Scored for male choir and piano or orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

The Songs of the Mark were originally part of Paul's aborted 1970s version of The Lord of the Rings. They were originally intended to have full orchestral accompaniment, but at that time never progressed beyond short score. Subsequently they were fully scored and form part of The Lord of the Rings: episodes and fragments.

They have now found their rightful place in the 2021 completed version of The Lord of the Rings.

Click on the arrow below to be taken to the page for the final version.

Op. 33 - Shadow-Bride

Scored for solo voice, viola and piano

Paul was given permission by Rayner Unwin in 1978 to compose this setting of one of J. R. R. Tolkien's non Middle-Earth poems.

Shadow-bride was written with viola and piano accompaniment as a commission for Sheila Searchfield and Myra Ricketts who gave the first performance at the Greenwich Festival in 1978. 

 

The material from the song was later utilised (to describe a similar situation) in the second scene of The Fall of Gondolin.

Along with the video below, a performance of this work is available on the album Akallabêth and other Tolkien Works released by Prima Facie records.

Op. 36 - Symphony No. 3 Ainulindalë

Scored for orchestra Scored for orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.2:pfte/cel: hp: str)

A full description and analysis of this work is available on the "Orchestral Works" page.

Op. 42 - Akallabêth

Scored for solo piano

(orchestral version is Op. 42a)

Although the Akallabêth uses a number of musical themes already composed for other works in my ‘Tolkien cycle,’ it was always designed as a totally independent and original work. It was commissioned in 1982 by James Meaker both as a display piece and as a symphonic poem in rondo form based on one of the concluding chapters in J R R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. As such some of the material later found its way into other part of the cycle.

 

After a brief introduction based on the theme of Ilúvatar, the main rondo theme depicts the fleets of the Edain setting sail to Númenor, and after a second theme (in The Silmarillion associated with the Valar) the main rondo theme returns majestically. A pastoral interlude recalling the tale of Aldárion and Erendis leads to Sauron’s theme, and then to that of his enchantments (chiefly the Ring); both of these latter themes recur in Beren and Lúthien. 

  

A third statement of the rondo theme leads to the return of the sea music, now turbulent and accompanying a more triumphal version of the earlier pastoral theme as the venturers of Númenor return as conquerors to Middle-Earth.  Finally the rondo theme returns for a fourth time, now corrupted by Sauron’s theme in the bass line, and his music now assumes an ascendancy.  A brief and sad reflection of the theme of the Valar depicts the sailing of the Númenoreans through the unnatural calm of the ocean towards the Blessed Realm; and then a violent eruption depicts the downfall of Númenor into the sea, and Sauron’s theme dissipates like a breath of wind.  The final section is a funeral lament, in which the rondo theme makes a final appearance; expanded for orchestra and chorus, this also appears at the end of The Fall of Gondolin. The piano rondo ends differently, however, with a heavy chord containing all the notes of the opening theme of Ilúvatar played simultaneously.

A recording of this work is commercially available on the album Akallabêth and other Tolkien works.

Op. 42a - Akallabêth

Scored for orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

Although the Akallabêth uses a number of musical themes already composed for other works in my ‘Tolkien cycle,’ it was always designed as a totally independent and original work. It was commissioned in 1982 by James Meaker both as a display piece and as a symphonic poem in rondo form based on one of the concluding chapters in J R R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. As such some of the material later found its way into other part of the cycle.

 

After a brief introduction based on the theme of Ilúvatar, the main rondo theme depicts the fleets of the Edain setting sail to Númenor, and after a second theme (in The Silmarillion associated with the Valar) the main rondo theme returns majestically. A pastoral interlude recalling the tale of Aldárion and Erendis leads to Sauron’s theme, and then to that of his enchantments (chiefly the Ring); both of these latter themes recur in Beren and Lúthien. 

  

A third statement of the rondo theme leads to the return of the sea music, now turbulent and accompanying a more triumphal version of the earlier pastoral theme as the venturers of Númenor return as conquerors to Middle-Earth.  Finally the rondo theme returns for a fourth time, now corrupted by Sauron’s theme in the bass line, and his music now assumes an ascendancy.  A brief and sad reflection of the theme of the Valar depicts the sailing of the Númenoreans through the unnatural calm of the ocean towards the Blessed Realm; and then a violent eruption depicts the downfall of Númenor into the sea, and Sauron’s theme dissipates like a breath of wind.  The final section is a funeral lament, in which the rondo theme makes a final appearance; expanded for orchestra and chorus, this also appears at the end of The Fall of Gondolin. The piano rondo ends differently, however, with a heavy chord containing all the notes of the opening theme of Ilúvatar played simultaneously.

The orchestral version of the score follows the outline of the piano original as detailed above, except that the pastoral interlude and succeeding material discussed in the second paragraph is omitted.

A recording of this work is commercially available on the album Akallabêth and other Tolkien works.

Op. 45 - Daeron

Scored for solo flute and piano

The romance for flute and piano Daeron was written in the late 1980s as a ‘spin-off’ from the work on The Silmarillion which was then proceeding apace. It was always intended, for example, that the opening section would be used in orchestral form as the prelude to Scene Four of Beren and Lúthien, although it derives originally from the opening of the much earlier song The Sea Bell; but the final stark recapitulation was entirely new, and it was only much later that it was in its turn orchestrated to form the interlude at the end of the Fourth Scene.

 

The middle section however was derived from the rejected fourth movement of the Flute Sonata.

Op. 46a - Fëanor Suite

Scored for chorus (ad lib) and orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

The suite consists of five extracts from the complete work. 

 

The first movement, The haven of the Swans, forms the prelude to the Seventh Scene and describes the  harbour of Alqualondë with its sea-wrought arch and many lamps; the rocking rhythm of the sea is heard in every bar.

 

The second movement forms part of the First Scene and describes The awakening of the Elves.  The long-limbed melody which arises out of the opening material will recur many times in the work as the theme associated with the Hidden Kingdom of Doriath.

 

The next movement, also from the First Scene, describes The waters of Cuiviénen by which the Elves awake, and takes up the Doriath theme developing it further in conjunction with other themes associated with the Elves.  

 

The fourth movement forms the end of the​ Second Scene and describes The two Trees which give light to the land of the Valar, alternately opening and closing.  The single theme is developed in two alternate strands, and then dies down as the choir describes the ‘noontide of the Blessed Realm’. 

 

The last movement, The three Jewels, forms the end of the Third Scene and describes the Silmarils that Fëanor forms from the light of the Trees. The main theme of the Silmarils is surrounded by other themes associated with the Blessed Realm and the Elves, and ends as the Jewels are hallowed by Elbereth and Mandos.

Op. 47a - Beren and Lúthien Suite

Scored for chorus (ad lib) and orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

The suite consists of five extracts from the completed work.

The first movement, The Thousand Caves, is the prelude to the Fourth Scene and depicts the Halls of Menegroth in Doriath, with changing vistas on every side.  The music here is the main Doriath theme, with the flute of Daeron the minstrel prominent. 

 

The flute also dominates the second movement, The woodland glade, which forms the opening of the Third Scene and leads into a chorus with words drawn from The Lord of the Rings: “The leaves were green.”  

 

The third movement, Lúthien’s dance, takes material from the Third Scene and expands it in the Seventh Scene as she dances before Morgoth: a dance to raise nameless passions and desires. 

 

The fourth movement returns to the Third Scene and forms the end of the Love scene.  Daeron’s flute theme is mingled with the themes of Beren and Lúthien themselves, and these latter continue to weave around the chorus as they sing further lines from The Lord of the Rings: “As Beren looked into her eyes…” 

 

The final section of the suite, The halls of Mandos, describes Lúthien’s journey beyond death in search of Beren, and her song before the Lord of Death who grants her request to rejoin her beloved.  At the end the chorus sing the final lines from Aragorn’s lay in The Lord of the Rings.

Op. 47b - Beren and Lúthien Love Scene

Scored for 2 soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra

The Love scene from Beren and Lúthien constitutes the whole of the third of the epic scenes from the second part of The Silmarillion, and was one of the very last parts of the  whole score of the cycle to be composed.

The arrangement retains the original text but employs a very much reduced orchestration designed for concert performance by small choirs: flute solo, string quintet, piano duet and percussion. However the original solo and choral parts remain unaltered.

Op. 48a - The Children of Húrin Suite

Scored for solo tenor (ad lib) and orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

The three movements of this suite are all drawn from the Third Triptych.

 

The first, The forest of Brethil at dawn, is the prelude to the Seventh Scene; the main theme will become the melody of the love duet.

 

The second movement, Turambar, is a transcription of Túrin’s words as he resolves to take a new name and so “put my shadow behind me”.

 

The final movement consists of the whole of the Epilogue of the work.  It begins with a Funeral march for Túrin, and the main theme of this march then surrounds the dialogue between his grieving parents which leads to the Death of Morwen.  The end of the work softly breathes the theme of mortality which will assume greater importance in the last part of the cycle.

Op. 49a - The Fall of Gondolin Suite

Scored for tenor and soprano soloists, chorus and orchestra (3.4 rec.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

This suite consists of three movements.

After a Wedding March which opens Scene Seven, the theme of mortality is taken up and developed to form an extended Love duet for Tuor and Idril; the words are drawn from Tolkien’s poem Aeflwine’s Hymn to Eärendil.   In the middle section the theme of the Valar is heard twice; it has occurred many times before in the course of the cycle, and in the suites it has already been heard in the final section of Beren and Lúthien

The second movement consists of the long narration given to Tuor at the beginning of Scene Five, The horns of Ulmo.  This sets the poem of the same name and consists of two main themes which intertwine with one another, then taking up in turn the opening of the Wedding March and the theme of the Valar before the original material returns. 

 

The final movement, The passage to Valinor, is the Epilogue to the whole cycle and again contrasts a number of themes, some of which have previously been heard (but not in these Suites).  At the climax the theme of the Two Trees from Fëanor returns, sung by a distant chorus from over the water.

Op. 49b - The Fall of Gondolin Wedding March

Scored for orchestra (3.4rec.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

The wedding march from scene seven of The Fall of Gondolin separated out for concert performance.

Op. 49c - The Fall of Gondolin Wedding March

Scored for solo piano or harp

The wedding march from scene seven of The Fall of Gondolin separated out for concert performance by piano or harp.

Op. 59 - Fragments & Episodes from The Lord of the Rings

These fragments and episodes, some of them substantial, were written at various times over a period of thirty years.

 

In the 1970s Paul prepared a complete libretto for a complete cycle of operas based on J R R Tolkien’s legend The Lord of the Rings which extended over a period of thirteen evenings (including two evenings derived from The Hobbit which acted as a prologue). I had at this stage already written The Black Gate is closed (which would form the ninth of the thirteen evenings) and the two evenings of The Hobbit

 

The largest of these fragments have their own opus numbers and entries above: Tom Bombadil and The Grey Haven but there also remain a number of other sketches and fragments.  These range in scope from the very substantial series of scenes which open this selection of fragments (the first three and a bit scenes from the third evening) to the patches of one minute or less. 

Although these various fragments were composed at various times over thirty years, it is no longer possible to state with any great degree of certainty when some of the fragments were in fact written, since some of them derive from little more than undated sketches. The original manuscripts of all the material included here have been lodged with the National Library of Wales.

Almost all of these fragments have since found their final home in the 2021 revision and completion of The Lord of the Rings.

Op. 60 - The Lay of Eärendil

Scored for solo tenor and piano or orchestra (3.3.3.3:4.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

A setting of the song that Bilbo sings in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the RIngs.

The music of the setting employs many themes from the Tolkien Cycle—inevitably so, since it shares much of the same subject matter.  Indeed, for a while this work was regarded as an appendix to The Silmarillion, bringing the whole story to an end in a manner more conclusive than was possible in the span of The Fall of Gondolin.  The themes used in The Lay of Eärendil therefore have the same relevance as those in the larger cycle, and reference may be made to the analysis of that work.

By the very nature of its text, The Lay of Eärendil reflects and mirrors the musical nature of the score for the Tolkien Cycle, and many of the motifs found in the ballad carry the same meaning and connotation as those in the larger work. 

The very opening theme of The Lay, declaimed freely by the solo trumpet, consists of the four notes CDAG, which reflect the dedication of the work to Craig Harvey (Re being the French term for D).  This theme recurs throughout the work, and is used to separate each of the verses of Tolkien’s original poem.

This work was later consumed and expanded into The War of Wrath to be used as the driving narrative for the second triptych.

Op. 60a - The Lay of Eärendil 

Scored for mixed choir and piano or orchestra (3.3.3.3:8.3.3.1:1.4:pfte/cel: hp: str)

This opus number refers to the choral version of The Lay of Eärendil. 

 

This came to life as the choral narrative in the second triptych in The War of Wrath. The additional elements that were specific to that work were removed and a few minor alterations were made so that this could once again be a stand alone piece.

Op. 68 - Umbar

Scored for organ

In the mythology of Tolkien Umbar is the haven where the ships of the Númenoreans land during the Second Age for their conquest of Middle-earth, The opening and closing passages represent the forbidding landscape of the inlet—which Tolkien nowhere describes, but which I imagine as being enclosed by towering cliffs.

 

The central section quotes the passage from the Akallabêth which describes the voyage of the Númenorean fleet across the ocean and their landing to the sound of trumpets. This landing will eventually lead to the downfall and destruction of the island of Númenor, and the music is suitably menacing.