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Op. 48 - The Children of Húrin, The Silmarillion Part Three

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Artwork by kind permission of Ted Nasmith

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Volante Opera Productions released a complete commercial demo recording of this work.  CDs and scores are available from their website.

By comparison with the difficulties encountered elsewhere in the cycle, the preparation of the text for The Children of Húrin was simplicity itself; indeed, this was the first part of the work to be completed in text as well as in music. The words derive almost entirely from Tolkien’s own completed texts, with some minor adjustments for “obscure” words or to provide continuity in abridged passages.


The First Triptych opens with a short prologue, in which the voice of Morgoth is heard cursing Húrin and his kin. The first scene shows the departure of Túrin from his mother. The words for these two scenes is derived entirely from Unfinished Tales with one or two small insertions from the published Silmarillion text.


In the second scene Túrin brings about the death of Saeros, and flees from Doriath; Beleg receives the sword Anglachel, and sets out in pursuit of him. The material of this scene derives partly from the Unfinished Tales and Silmarillion material, but here and only here some reference is made to earlier texts included in Tolkien’s sketches. In the third scene, where Beleg finds Gwindor, rescues Túrin and is slain by him, I have of necessity been forced to transform some of the reported speech of The Silmarillion into direct speech; but much of the course of the action here remains in the original words, and is sung by the chorus.


In the Second Triptych, the Nargothrond episodes of the fourth scene presented special problems since the connected narrative in Unfinished Tales fails at this juncture and also because the materials available in The Silmarillion are very disparate. This to a certain extent justified a bold approach (although nothing like as bold as some of the solutions required elsewhere) and the whole of the Nargothrond episodes before Tumhalad were dealt with in a series of four “quadrants” between Finduilas, Túrin and Gwindor, with brief choral interjections both dramatic (as in the setting of Ulmo’s warning) and explanatory. However, in order to fashion a musical unity, some cavalier treatment of the basic material was indicated—Gwindor, for example, borrows his opening words in Scene Four from Beleg; and in an attempt to furnish an extended musical aria for Finduilas, not only were two separate speeches conflated but she also in turn appropriated some words from Gwindor, translating them from the second to the first person in the process.


In the fifth scene the chorus describes the battle of Tumhalad (not named as such in the score); this and Túrin’s encounter with Glaurung derive entirely from The Silmarillion. In the sixth scene Niënor herself falls under the enchantment of Glaurung, and Morwen is lost in the wild; the sung dialogue comes from Unfinished Tales, but the narrative again derives largely from The Silmarillion.


The Third Triptych opens with an extended orchestral prelude, and the seventh scene then describes Túrin’s arrival in Brethil and his reception by Dorlas and Brandir; here all the material is drawn from Unfinished Tales. The eighth scene covers Niënor’s arrival in Brethil, and concludes with a love duet for the soprano and tenor with chorus. The words for the latter derive from The Lay of Leithian and therefore echo the earlier love duet in Scene Eight of Beren and Lúthien.


The ninth scene then describes the final tragedy and the deaths of the incestuous brother and sister; the text here comes again almost entirely from Unfinished Tales, here at their most finished. Finally an epilogue, again entirely orchestral with this time some spoken dialogue, shows Húrin’s final meeting with Morwen. Here the Unfinished Tales text fails completely, and the dialogue is drawn from The Silmarillion, where Christopher Tolkien formed a conclusion by drawing on Tolkien’s incomplete Wanderings of Húrin: one of Tolkien’s most moving passages of writing.


When the work was originally conceived as an independent entity, and when extracts were first performed in Oxford in 1982, the work was entitled Narn i Hîn Húrin, the title given to the extended version of the story included by Christopher Tolkien in Unfinished Tales. It now appears that the title was amended by Christopher Tolkien from his father’s original Narn i Chîn Húrin, on the grounds that the word Chîn would be mispronounced as English “chin”—a suspicion which I imagine would be well-founded. However, in later volumes of The History of Middle-Earth, Christopher Tolkien has now reverted to his father’s original spelling. It seems to me that it would be confusing to make consequent alterations to the title of the work (which has already in part been performed); nor does it seem to me that Christopher Tolkien’s original fears about the potential mispronunciation of Chîn are any less valid now than when the alteration was originally made. I have therefore reverted to the original sub-title of the work and adopted this as the main title: The Children of Húrin. This will overcome any potential future confusion, and the retention of Narn i Chîn Húrin as the sub-title will show the reference back to the chapter of Unfinished Tales.



3 Flutes (3rd Flute doubling Piccolo)

2 Oboes

English Horn

2 Clarinets

Bass Clarinet

3 Bassoons (3rd Bassoon with extension to play low A)

4 Horns

3 Trumpets

2 Tenor Trombones

Bass Trombone



Three Percussion Players (Side Drum, Tenor Drum, Bass Drum, Tamborine, Cymbals, Triangle, Gong, Xylophone, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Wind, Thunder)

Pianoforte (doubling Celesta)


12 First Violins

12 Second Violins

8 Violas

8 Violoncellos

6 Double Basses


Creatures of Evil:


MORGOTH (Bass), the Enemy

GLAURUNG (Bass), the first and greatest of Dragons




FINDUILAS (Soprano), daughter of Orodreth King of Nargothrond

GWINDOR (Bass-Baritone), a lord of Nargothrond, captive of Morgoth

BELEG CÚTHALION (High Baritone), a Captain of Doriath

MABLUNG (Bass), a Captain of Doriath

SAEROS (Character Tenor), counsellor to the King of Doriath




HÚRIN THALION (Spoken Role), Lord of the House of Hador

MORWEN ELEDHWEN (Mezzo-soprano), his wife

TÚRIN (Heroic Tenor), their son

NIËNOR (Soprano), their daughter

BRANDIR (High Baritone), leader of the men of Brethil

DORLAS (Character Tenor), a woodman of Brethil


Mixed chorus Unseen Voices and woodmen of Brethil


The Curse of Húrin (Prologue)

Morgoth’s minions have captured Húrin, a mighty Lord of Men of the house of Hador, in the  Battle of Unnumbered Tears.  He lays a curse upon Húrin’s family, and binds him to a high place to witness their doom.


The Departure (Scene One)

Morwen, the wife of Húrin and heavy with child, is with their son Túrin.  The pair debate the fate of Húrin, with Túrin believing that he is dead. Morwen decides to send Túrin away to the Elven Realm of Doriath for protection from the Easterlings that now rule their land.  She bids him farewell.


The Exile of Túrin (Scene Two)

Once Túrin reaches Doriath Morwen gives birth to a daughter, Niënor.  Túrin grows and becomes a fierce warrior, but is forever touched by sorrow and worry for his mother and sister.  Saeros, a friend of King Thingol, mocks Túrin and insults Morwen.  Túrin overpowers him and forces him to run for his life whilst he chases him.  Mablung tries to stop Túrin but a fearful Saeros leaps from a cliff and dies.  Mablung attempts to take Túrin before the King but Túrin scorns his judgement and leaves.  Beleg, Túrin’s friend, enters having sought the truth of the encounter. The King      pardons Túrin, deeming him wronged and provoked, and offers any reward to Beleg for returning him. He takes with him the Black Sword Anglachel, as a gift from the King.  Beleg vows to find his friend and bring him back. 


The Death of Beleg  (Scene Three)

Beleg searches for Túrin and comes across Gwindor, an elf of Nargothrond, unconscious by a tree. Beleg wakes Gwindor, who tells him that he has escaped from capture in Angband and that he recently saw a company of Orcs passing with a man in chains. Beleg, followed by Gwindor, chases after the Orcs through a wild storm and comes upon their camp.   There he finds an unconscious Túrin and attempts to free him using Anglachel.  This wakes Túrin, who jumps to his feet and in the darkness takes the sword and slays Beleg, believing him to be an Orc.  A flash of lightning  reveals Beleg’s face and Túrin realises his mistake. A grieving Túrin learns from Gwindor of a  rumour in Angband about a curse upon Húrin’s family.


Túrin in Nargothrond (Scene Four)

Gwindor brings an incognito Túrin to Nargothrond.  He tells Túrin that he will be safe there but Túrin believes it would be better for all of the host of Nargothrond to take the fight to the         enemy.  Finduilas, the daughter of King Orodreth, betrothed of Gwindor, finds her heart turned towards the stranger.  Gwindor, realising he has lost his love, has turned sullen and distant towards Túrin.  Gwindor tries to confess his love to Finduilas and warns her not to trust Túrin; he reveals all he knows of Túrin’s family and curse. Finduilas confesses to Gwindor that, while she loves him, her love for Túrin is greater.  She admits that she knows that Túrin does not love her in return, seeing her like a mother and a Queen.  She greets Túrin by his name and berates him for not telling her himself.  Túrin blames Gwindor for bringing his curse back upon him but Gwindor believes that the curse lies on the man, not his name.


The Sack of Nargothrond (Scene Five)

The host of Nargothrond, under Túrin’s command, goes forth into battle against Morgoth.  The dragon Glaurung lays siege to Nargothrond and succeeds in destroying it.  Gwindor is killed and Finduilas is captured. Túrin rushes back to the ruins, only to be intercepted by the dragon, who holds him in his bewitching gaze whilst Finduilas is carried away.  Once the dragon’s spell breaks, Túrin rushes away after Finduilas.


The Loss of Niënor (Scene Six)

Morwen and Niënor, now under the protection of Mablung, come in search of Túrin. Morwen attempts to leave Niënor behind and go on alone. However, her daughter insists on staying with her and searching for her brother.  As Morwen decides to search for Túrin at Nargothrond, Mablung attempts to stop them going any further. He cannot fulfil his duty to protect them if they continue. Morwen and Niënor carry on without his escort. Morwen becomes separated and lost in the ruins of Nargothrond.  Niënor comes upon Glaurung, who casts a spell of forgetfulness upon her.  She runs off into the forest. 


The Master of Doom (Scene Seven)

Túrin comes into the forest of Brethil, encountering a group of men led by Dorlas.  Túrin learns that Finduilas was slain by the Orcs and that Dorlas spoke to her as she lay dying.  Dorlas         recognises Túrin as the great captain of Nargothrond.  The chieftain of the men of Brethil, a lame man named Brandir, approaches and berates Dorlas for greeting the cursed man. Túrin           determines to forget his name and kin, which have only brought evil to others, and takes the name Turambar, the Master of Doom.


The Maiden of Tears (Scene Eight)

Niënor, still under the spell of forgetfulness that Glaurung placed on her, also comes to Brethil, where she is discovered by Dorlas and Túrin.  Túrin and Niënor find themselves irresistibly     attracted to one another.  Túrin gives her the name Niniel, maiden of tears, and the two fall quickly in love.  They marry and Túrin vows to never go to war again, unless to protect her or their home.  She becomes pregnant and for the first time in Túrin’s life he is at relative peace.


The Death of the Children of Húrin (Scene Nine)

Brandir warns his people that Glaurung is coming to destroy them.  Túrin vows to kill the dragon and goes forth with Dorlas. Dorlas and Túrin approach Glarung’s location but Dorlas, turning to flee when he sees the dragon, falls into a ravine and dies.  Túrin presses on alone and succeeds in killing the great worm.  Brandir approaches with Niënor in search of Túrin.  They find him      unconscious at the feet of the dying dragon, who with his final breath removes the spell of         forgetfulness from Niënor.  In horror at the realisation that she is pregnant with her brother’s child, she throws herself to her doom in the river.  The men of Brethil come in search of her, but Brandir tells them all of Túrin and Niënor.  Túrin awakes and when Brandir tries to tell him the truth he calls him a liar and slays him.  Mablung approaches, hailing the slayer of Glaurung. Túrin asks him for tidings of his family. He is told the truth, that Morwen is lost and Nienor was bewitched and ran off into the wilds. Túrin calls upon his sword, Anglachel, to end his life and throws himself upon the blade.


The Curse Reaches its End (Epilogue)

Húrin, freed from captivity, comes to Túrin’s grave. There he finds a dying Morwen.  She asks him what happened to their children and he cannot answer.



extracted from The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and The Lays of Beleriand (edited by C R Tolkien)

used by kind permission of the estate of the late John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and HarperCollinsPublishers



The Curse of Húrin  (Prologue)


The Curtain rises on a scene in total darkness. Out of this unlight the comes a gigantic voice, hugely amplified and seeming to come from all around the auditorium.



I am the Elder King*, who was before the world and made it;

the shadow of my purpose lies upon it,

and all that is in it bends slowly and surely to my will.


A sudden beam of light illumines the blackness. Pinpointed by this beam, Húrin is seen standing totally alone, proud and defiantly erect.



But upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of doom,

and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair.

Wherever they go, evil shall arise.

Whenever they speak, their words shall bring ill-counsel.

Whatsoever they do shall turn against them.

They shall die without hope,

cursing both life and death**.


HÚRIN [standing proudly erect]

You speak in vain.

For you cannot see them, nor govern them from afar;

not while you keep this shape, and desire still to be a King visible upon the earth.



Yet I may come at you,

and all your cursed house;

for you shall be broken on my will,

though you all were made of steel.


Húrin sinks abruptly to his knees, as though felled by a sudden swordstroke.



The shadow of my thought shall pursue them, even to the ends of the world.


HÚRIN [bowed, but still defiant]

You are not the Lord of Men and shall not be,

though all Earth and Heaven fall in your dominion.

Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those that refuse you.



Beyond the Circles of the World I shall not pursue them.

For beyond the Circles of the World in Nothing.

But within them they shall not escape me,

until they enter into Nothing.


HÚRIN [hardly breathed, prostrate]

You lie...



You shall see, and you shall confess I do not lie!


The section of the stage on which Húrin lies prostrate rises rapidly to a great height; here he will remain throughout the action.



Sit now there! and look out upon the lands

where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou lovest.

And with my eyes shalt thou see,

and with my ears shalt thou hear;

and never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto the bitter end.


The voice ceases Húrin alone remains, unmoving on his pinnacle of rock.

ELDER KING?: Here MORGOTH is trying to deceive HÚRIN into believing he is the ELDER KING.

** THE CURSE UPON THE FAMILY OF HÚRIN: Here is the driving force behind much of the action in this part of the cycle.  If not the most evil act MORGOTH inflicts upon someone, it is definitely the most sadistic we witness. Rather than kill his foe he curses him and his family then chains him up where he has to watch it eat away at everyone he holds dear.

The Departure  (Scene One)


Slowly light spreads across the remainder of the stage; as it does so the blinding light on Húrin abates somewhat, although his gaze remains fixed on the action. On the remainder of the stage there stand two other rocky monoliths in the form of a gateway.



Morwen the wife of Húrin remained alone, silent in grief.

Her son Túrin was yet young, and she was again with child.

The Easterlings* came into the land; they dealt cruelly with the people of Hador,

robbed them of all they possessed and enslaved them.


The light has now disclosed a bare and windswept hillside, upon which the gateway stands; all else is shrouded in mist. Beneath the stones of the gateway are seen standing Morwen with her son Túrin; they remain awhile motionless, until Túrin suddenly starts to pace angrily to and fro.



When will my father come, to cast out these ugly thieves? Why does he not come?



I do not know. It may be that he is slain, or that he is held captive;

or, again, it may be that he was driven far away,

and cannot yet return through the foes that divide us.



Then I think that he is dead;

for nothing could keep him from coming back to help us, if he were alive.



I do not think that either of these things is true, my son.


Both remain motionless, brooding in silence.



Who knows now the counsels of Morgoth?

Who can measure the reach of his thought,

who sat now, a Dark Lord upon a Dark Throne in the north,

weighing in his malice all the tidings of the earth?


Morwen stirs suddenly from her brooding, and turns with impatience towards her son.



And yet he does not come; so you must go, and go soon.



Go? Whither shall we go? Over the mountains?



Yes, over the mountains, away south. But I did not say we, my son.

You must go, but I must stay.



I cannot leave you; I will not leave you!

The heir should stay in Húrin’s house to guard it!


MORWEN [bitterly]

The heir should stay! To be a thrall?

If you wish to be a man, you will do as I bid, and take heart!

I will follow you, if things grow worse...and if I can.



But how will you find me, lost in the wild?



I know whither you are going; and if you come there,

and if you remain there, I will find you, if I can.

For I am sending you to Doriath,

to the court of the Elvenking Thingol and of his great Captains,

Mablung of the Heavy Hand and Beleg Cuthalion.


Túrin covers his eyes and appears to weep.



It is hard, Túrin my son. Not hard for you only.

It is heavy on me in evil days to judge what is best to do.

But I do as I think right;

for why else should I part with the thing most dear that is left to me?


Túrin embraces his mother with sudden violence. Then he turns away from her and advances slowly towards the very front of the stage. The increasing light on his face shows the agony in his expression. Morwen, standing within the gateway, grips the posts of the door with whitening knuckles.



Morwen, Morwen, when shall I see you again?


At once total darkness engulfs the door where Morwen still stands. Túrin remains unmoving at the front of the stage; his father watches motionlessly from his raised pillar far above. ​

EASTERLINGS: The name given to primitive tribes of MEN from the East.  Opportunistic and fluid in allegiances, they take over the lands decimated by MORGOTH and often serve his cause.

The Exile of Túrin  (Scene Two)


During the following, shadows flit across the rear of the stage like sunlight shafting through leaves.



And Morwen gave birth to her child, the daughter of Húrin;

and she named her Niënor, which is, Mourning.

But Túrin, passing through great perils,

came at last to the Girdle of Doriath.


The gradually increasing light shows that the lintel posts have been transformed, and now resemble the trunks of forest trees.



And there he was befriended by Beleg Cuthalion;

and he grew fair and strong, but he was touched with sorrow,

filled with fear for his mother and his sister,

and grew in grimness of heart and great anger.


Túrin at the front of the stage turns with a gesture, so that his back is towards the audience.



Are all the women of Hithlum wild and loveless,

uncouth and unkempt as their cast-off sons?



Now Saeros, one high in the counsels of the King,

begrudged to Túrin the honour he received; and he waylaid Túrin,


The play of shadows at the rear of the stage reflects the narrative of the chorus.



But Túrin overcame him,

and set him to run naked as a hunted deer through the woods.



Morwen! now shall you mocker pay for his scorn!


As he enters into the shadow-play individual characters are seen: the fleeing Saeros and, in the further distance, other Elves led by Mablung.



Hold, Túrin, hold! this is Orc-work in the woods!



Orc-work in the woods for Orc-words from a thrall!


The fleeing Saeros has turned back towards Túrin, but at this moment he falls headlong to the ground. Túrin comes quickly behind him; but Saeros is dead. At the same time Mablung comes swiftly forward. All remain motionless. There is a long tense silence.



The King must judge these deeds.



If the King were just, why choose a heart of malice for his friend?

I abjure his law and his judgement.



One death is enough.

I bid you return with me, as a friend.

When the King learns the truth, you may hope for pardon.



I refuse your bidding. I will not seek pardon.

I will go now where the King’s doom cannot find me.



Fare free! for that is your wish.

But well I do not hope for, if you go in this way.

A shadow lies on your heart.

When we meet again, may it be no darker.


Túrin turns scornfully away from them and passes swiftly from the stage. Mablung turns to his companions.



How shall we harbour one who scorns the law, or pardon one who will not repent?


BELEG [suddenly appears from the shadows at the back of the stage]

Lord, may I yet speak?



You come late.



Truly, Lord; but I was delayed. I sought the truth...


All turn towards Beleg; he begins silent to explain the actions of Saeros and Túrin.



Then all was searched and told; but the net was cast over Túrin,

and he was enmeshed in it, and led away.



Such fault as can be found in Túrin the King pardons,

holding him wronged and provoked.

But where can he be found? for he has left our land, and the world is wide.



He shall be found; for if he lives or walks still abroad,

I shall find him, though all others fail.



At this parting, Beleg Cuthalion, ask for any gift, the King will not deny it to you.



I ask then for a sword of worth. I choose the blade of Anglachel*.



There is malice in that blade.

It will not love the hand it serves;

neither will it remain with you long.



Nonetheless I will wield it while I may.

I will seek Túrin if I can until I find him, and bring him back to Doriath;

and gladly will I welcome his return.

For I love him well.


He turns to follow Túrin; darkness envelops the scene.

ANGLACHEL (IRON OF DOOM): Sword forged by the dark elf EÖL from a meteorite and begrudgingly given to THINGOL in payment for letting his make his home in NAN ELMOTH. A black blade that is capable of cutting through iron, supposedly filled with the malice of it’s creator.  The blade is attributed with sentience as it glows with a pale fire.  MELIAN sensed this and warned THINGOL not to use it.

The Death of Beleg  (Scene Three)


The darkness which has covered the stage is lit by fiery flashes, as of a distant but slowly approaching thunderstorm.



So Beleg departed from Doriath, following the track of the Orcs;

and as he passed by night through the land

he came on one who lay asleep at the foot of a great dead tree.


In the increasingly steady illumination one of the great pillars can once more be discerned; it now assumes the form of a massive dead tree, overhung with ivy and moss. The scene remains but dimly visible in the intermittent flashes of lightning; all is dark, still and brooding. Through the murk Beleg Cúthalion approaches; he sees Gwindor unconscious at the foot of the tree. He bends over him, rousing him solicitously.



My friend, my friend, who are you? What fate has brought you to this terrible place?



I name myself Gwindor son of Guilin,

that lord of Nargothrond whom Morgoth captured,

escaped by secret tunnels known only to myself,

thus spent and bewildered in the mazes of this forest.

But as I lay and lurked among the trees

I saw a great company of Orcs passing northwards;

among them was a man whose hands were chained,

and they drove the man onward with whips.



That is Túrin, whom I seek; and whom I will release.



You will but join the man in the torment that awaits him!


Beleg has already hastened away, and makes no response. The storm grows steadily closer and the thunder is now clearly heard. In the lightning flashes Túrin himself can now be seen, chained to the other pillar of the stage.



The storm rode up out of the west;

and lightning glittered on the mountains far away.

When all in the camp were sleeping, silently in peril they entered in;

and found Túrin, and carried him out to a thicket of sharp thorns a little way above.


The action proceeds as described by the chorus.



And now the storm grew very near.

And Beleg drew his sword Anglachel,

and with it he cut the fetters that bound Túrin;

but Túrin was roused into a sudden wakefulness of rage and fear.



The Orcs are come again to torment me! Give me the sword!



And slew Beleg Cuthalion, thinking him a foe.


Túrin stands, with the sword Anglachel in his hands, looking down at the body of Beleg while the storm and lightning crash and flash upon the scene.



And in the lightning he looked down on Beleg’s face.


The face of Túrin suddenly lights up with recognition and horror. The storm reaches its climax; Gwindor turns away and crouches down with his hands over his eyes. Húrin on his pillar reaches out his hands towards his stricken son, and again remains motionless. A long pause, while the storm slowly dies down. Gwindor rises and approaches Túrin cautiously.



Who are you?



A thrall escaped, whom Beleg met and comforted,

who once was Gwindor son of Guilin,

and now returns to Nargothrond where Finduilas daughter of the King awaits me.

There I may forget my captivity in Angband.



Then you have seen Húrin of the House of Hador, the warrior of men?



I have not seen him.

But rumour of him runs through Angband that he still defies Morgoth;

and Morgoth has laid a curse upon him and all his kin.



That I well believe.


Gwindor slowly picks up the sword Anglachel, placing it in Túrin’s hand; and leads him slowly out. Húrin, on his pillar, allows his arms to drop once more loosely to his side. The lights fade and the Curtain falls.

Túrin in Nargothrond  (Scene Four)

The Great Gate of Nargothrond extends across the width of the stage. Beyond the Gate, to the back, lies the darkness of the Hidden Caves; before it, there is sunlight and the road leading from the refuge. The Gate is here reached by a stone-wrought bridge which, it is suggested, spans the mighty river flowing past the Gate to the front. At first the scene is shrouded in darkness, and the voices of Elven women are heard. The lights rise; across the bridge come Túrin and Gwindor. They halt on the bridge, turning into the sunlight.



Thus did Túrin come to Nargothrond.



All is well now. Our enemies are still surprised, and afraid.

And still good days lie before us...for a while.



And what then?



Winter. And after that another year, for those who live to see it.



And what then?



The wrath of Angband.

We have but scorched the fingertips of the Black more.

It will not withdraw.



Yet victory is victory, however small, not is its worth only in what follows from it.

Better is it to win a time of glory, though it be short-lived;

for the end shall be no worse.



Petty victories will prove profitless in the end.

In secrecy alone now lies any hope; until the End come.



You speak of secrecy, and that therein lies the only hope;

but could you ambush and waylay every scout

and spy of Morgoth to the last and least,

yet from that he would learn that you lived and guess where.

Though mortal men have little life beside the span of the elves,

they would rather spend it in battle than fly or submit.

The defiance of Húrin Thalion is a great deed;

and, though Morgoth slay the doer,

he cannot make the deed not to have been.

Even the Lords of the West will honour it;

and is it not written into the history of the world,

which neither Good nor Evil can unwrite?


He and Gwindor turn and pass through the Gate into Nargothrond. Darkness descends on the scene, and the passage of time is suggested.



And Finduilas daughter of Orodreth the King knew them and welcomed them;

but her heart was turned from Gwindor,

and against her will her love was given to Túrin.


Túrin and Finduilas are seen, walking before the Gate.



I had a sister once*, or so I called her; and of her you put me in mind.

But she was a yellow flower in the green grass of spring;

and had she lived she would now perhaps be dimmed with grief.

But you are queenly, and as a golden tree; I would I had a sister so fair.



But you are kingly, and yet grave; I would I had a brother so valiant.

And I do not know your true name; but I will call you Thúrin, the Secret.



That is not my name; and I am not a King.



Your heart and mind are elsewhere, by rivers in springs long past.



Do not let the words of Gwindor fright you.

He has suffered in the darkness of Angband;

and needs all solace, and longer time for healing.



I know it well.



But we shall win that time for him! Nargothrond shall stand!

Never again will Morgoth the craven come forth from Angband,

and all his reliance must be on his servants.

They are the fingers of his hands; and we will smite them,

and cut them off, until he draws back his claws.

Nargothrond shall stand!


Again there is darkness across the stage, and the light suggests the further passage of time. Gwindor stands on the bridge, looking out across the river. Túrin comes quietly behind him.



Gwindor, dear friend, you are falling back into sadness; do not so!

for your healing will come in the houses of your kin, and in the light of Finduilas.


Gwindor looks at him but makes no reply.



Why do you look at me like that?

Often your eyes have gazed strangely at me of late; how have I grieved you?

I would that we were one in mind;

for to you I owe a great debt, and I shall not forget it.



Will you not?

Nonetheless your deeds and counsels have changed my home and my kin**.

Your shadow lies upon them.

Why should I be glad, who have lost all to you?


Once again darkness. The lights rise to disclose Gwindor in converse with Finduilas.


Daughter of the King, let no grief lie between us;

for though Morgoth has laid my life in ruin, you still I love.

Go whither love leads you; but beware!

A doom indeed lies upon this man,

as seeing eyes may well see in him; but a dark doom.

Enter not into it! and, if you will, your love shall betray you to bitterness and death.

For hearken to me!

Though he be indeed of secret birth, his name in Túrin,

the son of Húrin whom Morgoth holds in Angband and whose kin he has cursed.

Doubt not the power of Morgoth Bauglir! Is it not written in me?



Your eyes are dimmed, Gwindor.

You do not see nor understand this thing that is here come to pass.

For I love you, Gwindor, and I am ashamed that I love you not more;

but I have taken a love yet greater, from which I cannot escape.

I did not seek it, and long I put it aside.

But if I have pity on your hurts, have pity on mine:

for Túrin son of Húrin loves me not, nor will.

He also needs solace, and is bereaved of his kin.

He seeks me out, and sits long with me, and comes ever more glad away;

you both have your needs.

But what of Finduilas?—if any of us three be faithless, it is I!

And what of your doom and rumours of Morgoth?

What of death and destruction?

For Túrin is mighty in the tale of the world,

and his stature shall reach further in some far day to come.

He is proud, but he is merciful.

He is not yet awake, but still pity can ever pierce his heart, and he will never deny it.

Pity maybe shall be the only entry. But he does not pity me.

He holds me in awe, as were I both his mother and a Queen!



Cast the stones of your pride into the loud water,

that the creeping evil may not find the Gate.


Túrin comes from the Gate in haste, and in full armour. Finduilas runs to his side.



Túrin son of Húrin, why did you hide your name from me?

Had I known who you were, I should not have honoured you less;

but I should better have understood your grief.


TÚRIN [to Gwindor]

You call my doom upon me, from which I would lie hid!



Your doom lies in yourself, not in your name.


Darkness descends across the stage.

TÚRIN’s SISTER: The sister TÚRIN refers to here is not NIËNOR but his sister who died tragically of a disease that had come out of ANGBAND when she was only three years old.

** THE DEEDS AND COUNSELS OF TÚRIN: TÚRIN, during his time at NARGOTHROND quickly avails himself as the BLACK SWORD or MORMEGIL, a mighty warrior who helps the ELVES hold back the onslaught of MORGOTH. His deeds earn him the ear of King ORODRETH and he uses this position to constantly argue for a change in strategy: to stop hiding and take the fight to MORGOTH.  His words are eventually heeded and ORODRETH agrees, they begin to prepare to march out to war.

The Sack of Nargothrond  (Scene Five)


Flashing fire and smoke flicker in the darkness, growing ever and ever more impenetrable.



Then the warriors of Nargothrond went forth*;

but greater far was the armament of Morgoth,

and none but Túrin could long withstand the approach of Glaurung.


In a sudden burst of flame the mask of Glaurung, as a great golden dragon, is seen.



On that day all the pride and the host withered away,

and Gwindor son of Guilin was wounded to the death;

and even as Túrin sped back in search of Finduilas,

the dreadful sack of Nargothrond was achieved.


Through the mist and wreck the Gate of Nargothrond is seen, in ruin and destruction. Túrin strides across the bridge with drawn sword. In the murk are dimly discerned shadowy figures bearing away the spoils and captives out of the caves behind the Gate.



Finduilas! Finduilas! Finduilas!



Leaves fall from the trees in a great wind. The autumn passes to a cold winter.


GLAURUNG [suddenly appears through the Gate]

Hail, son of Húrin! Well met!...Evil indeed have been all thy ways, son of Húrin.

Slayer of thy friend, thief of love, captain foolhardy, betrayer of thy kin!


Túrin stands still, seeing himself as in a mirror misshapen by malice, and loathing that which he sees. More captives  are brought from the Gate; among them is Finduilas.


FINDUILAS [being dragged rapidly away]

Túrin! Túrin! Túrin!



He may not stop his ears against that voice that will haunt him hereafter.


Túrin starts to himself, drawing his sword, and leaps at Glaurung who draws himself swiftly backwards and higher, as if rearing to strike.



If thou wilt be slain, I will slay thee swiftly.

But small help will that be to Niënor and Morwen.

No heed didst thou give to the cries of the elf-woman.

Wilt thou deny also the bond of thy blood?

Glad shall thy father be to learn that he hath such a son; as learn he shall.


Until this moment Húrin has been again motionless upon his pillar; now, as before, he raises his hand as if in supplication towards his son. Túrin, as if bereft of his own will, turns abruptly away and rushes across the bridge as if in pursuit. It begins to grow dark and mists arise from the river.



Haste thee now, son of Húrin! or never shalt thou see Morwen again,

and never shalt thou see at all Niënor thy sister; and they shall curse thee.


Darkness has already shrouded the scene; the fires of Glaurung disappear into the mist.

THE DESTRUCTION OF NARGOTHROND: TÚRIN has led the forces of NARGOTHROND off to war but, unbeknownst to him, MORGOTH’s hordes choose that moment to attack the city—when the majority of the defenders are away. The warriors see the destruction from the distance and try to rush back but are too late.

The Loss of Niënor (Scene Six)


The mists continue to swirl across the stage and totally obscure the scene. Through the mists which shroud the stage Morwen and Niënor are seen wearily stumbling. They are intercepted by Mablung, together with a small company of guards.



Then Morwen* was distraught,

and she rode forth with Niënor into the wild to seek her son,

or some true tidings of him.

And Mablung was sent from Doriath to guard them,

bidding Niënor to return with him.



Mourning you have named me;

but I will not mourn alone for father, brother, mother.

But of these you only have I known, and nothing that you fear not do I fear.



What then would you do?



I go with you; I go where you go.

Rather to Doriath, for reverence of those who rule it;

but, if not, then westward to Nargothrond.

Indeed, if either of us should go on, it is I rather, in the fullness of strength.



I go on, as I have purposed. Come you also; but against my will.


She turns away, and Niënor follows her. Mablung, remaining as if in doubt, turns to his companions.



Truly it is by lack of counsel not of courage that Húrin’s folk bring woe to others!

Even so with Túrin; but not so with his fathers.

But now they both are fey, and I like it not. What is to be done?


MORWEN [turning back to answer]

Seek for tidings of Túrin, and of Nargothrond.

For this end we are all come together.



Fey are you both, and foolhardy.  Now hear me! 

I was bidden not to stay you with strength;

but I was bidden also to guard you as I might.  In this pass, one only can I do.



We are come too far now to turn back in fear.

The mists cover the stage, and they disappear into them.


Thus the ladies were lost, and of Morwen no tidings came to Doriath again. 

But Niënor came through the reek into the sunlight,

and looked into the eyes of Glaurung.

Niënor alone remains visible; at the same time the Gate of Nargothrond is once more discerned.  The mask of Glaurung appears suddenly as sunlight pierces the mists.  Niënor starts and turns as if to ruin; then turns and confronts the eyes of the Dragon.



What do you do here?



I do but seek one Túrin that dwelt here awhile.  But he is gone, maybe.



I know not.  He was left here to defend the women and weaklings;

but when I came he deserted them, and fled. 

A boaster but a craven, it seems.  Why seek you such a one?



You lie.  The children of Húrin at least are not craven.  We fear you not.



Then you are fools, both you and your brother; and your boast shall be made vain. 

For I am Glaurung!

 For a moment, Niënor remains as though transfixed.  Then she turns, her face and mind a blank expression of despair**, and stumbles running back across the bridge and towards the river.  Húrin on his pillar sinks down in despair as the Curtain falls.

THE JOURNEY OF MORWEN: When MORWEN stops receiving news of TÚRIN from DORIATH she leaves her home, with NIËNOR, and goes herself to DORIATH to ask about his whereabouts.  It is there that THINGOL imparts all he knows of her son and of rumours of the MORMEGIL who fights with the warriors of NARGOTHROND. The two ladies then decide to leave DORIATH to search themselves and that is when THINGOL orders MABLUNG to escort them.

** FORGETFULNESS: GLAURUNG is not only a massive fire-breathing dragon.  His more cunning powers of bewitching and bewildering his targets are displayed here. The cruel act of GLAURUNG here is to remove NIËNOR of her memories rather than her life.

The Master of Doom  (Scene Seven)


When the curtain rises the scene is largely covered with green-leaved trees: to the right of the stage these completely shroud one of the standing stones but to the left the other stone is still to be seen, standing alone and overlooking a deep river gorge which lies towards the back of the stage.  Húrin still remains on his pillar; but now he lies prostrate, clutching at the sides of the stone, and his face is shrouded and invisible.  It is dawn, and the day is slowly breaking.  Túrin is seen lying exhausted beneath the standing stone by the edge of the gorge.  Dorlas appears through the woods leading a number of men; they stop in amazement at the sight of Túrin, then Dorlas comes across and gently rouses him.



Who are you, and what do you here?



Are there then any left, who will suffer me to darken their lands? 

My friends, I am on a grievous errand: to find Finduilas, daughter of Nargothrond,

or at the least to learn news of her. 

For many weeks I have been searching.         



Seek no more; for by this stream the foul creatures of Morgoth slew their prisoners;

and the daughter of Orodreth they fastened to a tree with a spear.         



How do you know this?                    



She spoke to us, before she died. 

She looked upon us as though seeking one whom she had expected, and said:

"The Black Sword.  Tell the Black Sword that Finduilas is here."  

She said no more.  She lies here buried beside the river.


Túrin remains frozen for a moment, staring at the standing stone.  Then he collapses prostrate at its foot. Dorlas turns to the others.



Too late! this is a piteous chance. 

But see! here lies the Mormegil himself, the great Captain of Nargothrond.


Brandir, wrapped in furs but with a circlet of gold about his brow, has slowly limped out of the forest; he looks down on Túrin with pity.



O cruel men of Haleth! why did you hold back death from this man? 

For here is brought the last bane of our people.



And should we leave this man woe-stricken to lie by the way?


BRANDIR [stands for a moment locked in mental combat with Dorlas; then he turns forlornly away] 

You should not indeed.  Doom willed it not so.


He leans over Túrin, who comes slowly to his senses and rises.



All my deeds and past days were dark and full of evil. 

But a new day is come. 

Here I will stay at peace, and renounce name and kin;

and so shall I put my shadow behind me,

or at least lay it not upon those whom I love. 

Turambar, Master of Doom, shall be my name;

forget that I am a stranger among you, or that I ever bore any other name.

Brandir bows low to him; the men move away into the trees.  Dorlas alone lingers by Túrin.



You have renounced your name, but the Black Sword are you still;

and does not rumour say truly that he was the son of Húrin,

and Lord of the House of Hador?



So it is said.  But publish it not, I beg you, as you are my friend. 

The Maiden of Tears  (Scene Eight)


Through the darkness which has descended moonlight begins to filter.


UNSEEN VOICES            

Around the gloom gathers; darkness grows across the sea,

red blood flows beside the waters.                           

The wind wails, the wolf howls, the ravens flee.

The ice mutters in the mouths of the sea. 

The captives sad in their dungeons mourn.

Thunder rumbles, and the fires burn.

Niënor, naked, comes stumbling through the woods running like a hunted beast.  Then suddenly, in a swoon of utter weariness, she falls as one stricken into a deep brake of fern.  The moon rises higher; then Dorlas comes running through the woods with Túrin.


Hither, lord! here is the young woman lying, and she lives!


Túrin bends over her, and lays a cloak about her; slowly she wakes.



And all things that she saw seemed new to her and  strange;

behind lay only an empty darkness, ahead the light that she sought.


Now, lady, will you not tell us you name and kin,

and what evil has befallen you, that you run thus naked in the woods?


She looks at him, and begins to weep silently.


Here you are safe, and may rest this night. 

And in the morning we will lead you to our homes in the forest. 

But we would know your name; will you not tell us?


Again she weeps.



Do not be troubled! Maybe the tale is too sad to tell. 

But I will give you a name, and call you Níniel, Maiden of Tears.


NIËNOR [raises her head, and shakes it slowly]  

Níniel...what are you called?





NIËNOR [she pauses, as if listening for some echo; then shakes her head again] 

And is that just the name for you alone?



It means Master of the Dark Shadow. 

For I also had my darkness, in which dear things were lost;

but now I have overcome it, I deem.



And did you also flee from it, running until you came to these fair woods?


I fled for many years.



And when did you escape, Turambar?


I escaped when you did so. 

For it was dark when you came, Níniel,

but ever since it has been light;

and it seems to me that what I sought has come to me.


(There lies a shadow on this man, and I am afraid. 

But he has escaped from it, even as I.  And is he not worthy of love?)



(From the green mound she came,

the wraith of a slain maiden on the grave of Finduilas. 

Is that a sign, and how shall I read it?)...

Time passes.  We have waited, and now I will wait no longer. 

I will go back now to war in the wild,

or I will wed you, and go never to war again,

save to defend you if some evil assails our home.



She takes him with joy; and spring turns toward summer.


She has risen and falls into his arms.  The moon sets and darkness once more descends across the stage.

The Death of the Children of Húrin  (Scene Nine)


UNSEEN VOICES            

Though all to ruin fell the world

and were dissolved and backward hurled

unmade into the old abyss,

yet were its making good, for this:

the dusk, the dawn, the earth,

the sea, that love for a time might be.

A hot sun spreads across the scene; mists rise slowly from the river.  The growing light discloses Brandir with a great many of the men of Brethil, looking out across the river.



Praised be the Black Sword of Brethil, through whom its enemies are overcome!


Men of Brethil, a deadly peril comes upon us,

which only great hardihood shall turns aside. 

For, if Glaurung comes, then we must abandon this place,

and scatter far and wide; so some may escape, and live. 

If we go up against the dragon with strength,

we shall but offer ourselves to death.


TÚRIN [comes hastily forward from amongst the men]  

Nay, that is the worst; and it shall not come to pass,

if my counsel and fortune be good. 

It is the doom of the Dragon that, however great his armour,

he must go beneath with the belly of a snake. 

Thus, men of Brethil,

I go to seek the belly of Glaurung, by what means I may. 

Who will come with me? 

I need but one with strong arms, and a stouter heart.


I will go with you, lord;

for I would ever go forward rather than wait for a foe. 

Will none of you others take the place of Brandir,

whose limbs by hazard betray him?


TÚRIN [looks at Dorlas with disapproval, and goes humbly and sympathetically to Brandir]

My lord, I do not scorn you. 

We go in haste; our task will need strong limbs. 

Your place is with your people; for you are wise, and a healer. 

And it may be that there will be great need of wisdom and healing ere long.

BRANDIR [sternly to Dorlas] 

Go then, but not with my leave. 

For a shadow lies on this man, and it will lead you to evil.


NIËNOR [comes running through the woods, and clings weeping to Túrin]  

Go not forth, Turambar, I beg! 

Challenge not the shadow that you have fled from! 

Nay, nay, flee still, and take me with you, far away!



Níniel most dear, we cannot flee together, you and I. 

We are penned in this land. 

And even should I go, deserting the people that befriended me,

I could but take you forth into the houseless wild,

to your death and the death of our child. 

But take heart, Níniel. 

For I say to you: neither you not I shall be slain by this Dragon,

nor by any foe of the North.


He kisses her gently on the forehead, and BRANDIR leads her away. Túrin remains alone with Dorlas.



When dusk falls, we must creep to the river. 

But beware! For the ears of Glaurung are as keen as his eyes, and they are deadly. 



This is a sure way to death.



It is the only way, to death or to life.



We spend our waning strength to no avail.



But where all lies on chance, to chance we must trust.               



And is this all our hope?


The sun has set, and darkness has enveloped the forest; across the river are seen the fires and the golden mask of Glaurung approaching.  Dorlas turns and runs towards the river; and then, turning to flee, falls into the ravine with a cry. 



Alas! it is fatal to walk in my shadow! 

Now you are alone, Master of Doom,

as you should have known it must be. 

Now conquer alone!   


He springs towards the river where the mask of Glaurung approaches.  The mists rising from the river partially conceal the combat.



Hail, Worm of Morgoth!  Well met again! 

Die now, and the darkness have thee!  Thus is Túrin son of Húrin avenged.

The roars of the Dragon suddenly cease, and a deathly silence falls.  In the  darkness nothing at all can be seen; then through the trees come Niënor and Brandir.


Níniel, fear not the worst until you must.  But did I not counsel you to wait?



The Master of Doom is gone to challenge his doom,

and how shall I stay and wait for the slow coming to tidings, good or ill? 

How shall I stand, or sit, or pass the dreadful hours? 

I understand you not.


Nor I myself; and yet I am afraid.


Is this the way?


What is the way? 

We have not now any hope, save to escape the Dragon,

and flee from him while there yet is time. 



The Black Sword was my beloved and husband, and only to find him to I go. 

What else could you think?


She runs towards the back.


Wait, Níniel!  Go not alone!  You do not know what you will find!


The mists and darkness suddenly part; the mask of Glaurung is seen twisted in its death agony.  At its feet lies Túrin.



Turambar, Turambar, come back!  Hear me!  Awake! 

For it is Níniel.  The dragon is dead, dead, and I alone am here by you.


GLAURUNG [dying]  

Hail, Niënor, daughter of Húrin!  We meet again ere the end. 

I give thee joy that thou hast found thy brother at last. 

And now shalt thou know him:

a stabber in the dark, treacherous to foes,

faithless to friends, and a curse unto his kin,

Túrin son of Húrin! 

But the worst of his deeds thou shalt feel in thyself*.


He dies.  Niënor slowly stands, looking down on Túrin with horror and anguish.


Farewell, O twice beloved! 

A Túrin Turambar turún’ ambartanen:

Master of Doom by Doom o’ermastered!  O happy to be dead! 


She runs rapidly towards the river.


Water, water!  Take now Níniel Niënor daughter of Húrin! 

Mourning, mourning daughter of Morwen!  Take me down to the Sea!


She casts herself into the ravine.  Brandir hastens behind her and looks down into the dark chasm in horror.  Day begins to dawn as men come in haste from the forest.



Have you seen her?  For Níniel is gone.


Níniel is gone for ever. 

The dragon is dead, and Turambar is dead; and these tidings are good. 

Hear me in silence!  Níniel the beloved is also dead. 

She cast herself into the water, desiring life no more;

for she learned that she was none other than Niënor daughter of Húrin,

ere her forgetfulness came upon her,

and that Turambar was her brother, Túrin son of Húrin.

All stand in horror; and from the darkness by the river a voice is suddenly heard.



You, Anglachel my sword, are stronger than I. 

All blood will you drink.  Yours is the victory.

All remain still as Túrin comes from the back and advances towards them.



Nay, be glad! for the Dragon is dead, and I live. 

But where is Níniel? for her first would I see;

and to her first will I tell of the deeds in the night.


Níniel is not here.



That is well then.  I will go to my home.


No, no!  Your house is empty.  Níniel is not there.  She is dead.         



How do you know?   How did you contrive it? 



The contriving was yours. 

She fled from you, that she might never see you again:

Niënor, the daughter of Húrin.


Yes, I am Túrin the son of Húrin; so long ago you guessed. 

But nothing do you know of Niënor my sister. 

It is a trick of your own vile mind,

to drive my wife witless, and now me. 

You limping evil, will you dog us both to death?



On his deathbed even a Dragon will speak true:

Túrin son of Húrin,

a curse unto thy kin and all that harbour thee!



And what shall be said of you, Club-foot? 

Who brought her to the malice of the Dragon? 

Who stood by and let her die? 

Who came hither to publish this horror? 

Who would now gloat before me? 

Do men speak true before death? 

Then speak it now quickly! 



I do not fear to die;

for then I will go to seek Níniel whom I loved,

and perhaps I shall find her again beyond the Sea.



You shall sleep with the Worm, your soul’s mate,

and rot in one darkness! 

He has raised his sword and hews Brandir to death.  All stand in terror as the blood-red sun rises.  Mablung enters through the forest with his Elven followers, and halts at the sight of Túrin.



You have slain the Great Worm! 

Praised for ever shall be your name among Elves and Men! 



I care not; for my heart also is slain. 

But since you come from Doriath, give me news of my kin.

MABLUNG [with concern] 

They went into the wild seeking you, against all counsel. 

Morwen none have seen since that day;

and Niënor fled naked into the woods as like a wild deer, and was lost.



I am blind, blind,

groping since birth in the dark mist of Morgoth! 

Go back to Doriath, and may winter shrivel  it!   

This only was wanting.  Now comes the night! 


Immediate darkness covers the scene.  A cold light illuminates the very front of the stage; in it Túrin stands alone, holding up his sword. Húrin on his pillar has risen and stands looking tensely towards his son. 



Hail, Anglachel, iron of death, thou alone now remainest! 

No lord or loyalty dost thou know; from no blood wilt thou shrink. 

Wilt thou therefore take Túrin Turambar? 

Wilt thou slay me swiftly?


A cold voice rings from the blade in answer.

Voice of the SWORD  

Yea, I will drink thy blood gladly,

that I may forget the blood of Beleg my master,

and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly. 

I will slay thee swiftly.


Túrin sets the blade upon the ground, and casts himself upon the point.  The black blade breaks asunder, and Túrin lies still.  There is a long silence.

THE FINAL CRUELTY OF GLAURUNG: In death the dragon returns the memories that he had taken from NIËNOR.

The Curse Reaches its End  (Epilogue)


The pillar of Húrin begins to descend.  It settles to the ground; Húrin, like one in a dream, slowly moves brokenly towards the body of his son.  And from the darkness on the other side Morwen is seen standing over the body.



You have come at last.  I have waited too long.  



It was a long road.  I have come as I could.



But you are too late.  They are lost.



I know.  But you are not. 



Almost.  I am spent.  I shall go with the dawn. 

Now little time is left; if you know, tell me! 

How did she find him?             


Húrin does not answer; instead he sits down below the standing stone, with her beside him. The light begins to fade, and Morwen sighs and lies still, clasping ever Húrin’s hand.  Húrin looks down at her.



She was not conquered...  


He remains still, as the darkness closes over him. 


The Curtain falls very slowly.

Musical Analysis

Prior to the performance of sections of Narn i Hîn Húrin (then so named) given by the Tolkien Society in Oxford in 1982, I prepared an introduction to the music for publication in the journal Amon Hen.  In this I wrote at some length about the nature of the music, and since this publication may well no longer be available, some of what I then said might well be cited now:


The music differentiates between three different worlds.  The music of Morgoth, Glaurung and the Orcs is jagged and thrusting, often dissonant.  The music of the elven kingdoms is solemn and slow and founded on calm and smooth harmonies; much of it is founded on extended melodies which proceed without interruption for lengthy periods.  The music of the humans partakes of both spheres, restlessly moving by chromatic stages from dissonance to consonance and back again.  Between the three worlds lies the music of the chorus, primitive and often simple in style, like the music of the ancient poet who narrates the Narn to the audience.


The music of the Enemy is founded upon two cells, one melodic and one rhythmic.  The theme of Morgoth himself [originally heard in Fëanor] is simply turned upside down to become the theme of Glaurung, and the rhythm of Morgoth’s opening words derives from and in turn generates the theme which depicts the Orcs.  The theme of Morgoth’s curse closely derives from that of Morgoth himself. 

For the stately melodies of the elves one may cite the theme of the House of Hador; of Doriath [originally heard in both Fëanor and Beren]; of Mablung and of Beleg Cuthalion (both of these originating as parts of the Doriath melody itself); of Finduilas; and of the Second Children of Ilúvatar [also deriving from earlier citations in Fëanor and Beren], which concludes the work as a whole).  [All of these, except those noted, are heard for the first time in Húrin.]


There are also short motifs which are developed symphonically, tending to transform themselves melodically in response to harmonic pressures, particularly the new themes of Húrin and Morwen; others are in themselves chromatic, such as Niënor, Brethil and Brandir.  Túrin himself has no theme—his personality is reflected through his treatment of the other themes and melodies—but the names of Turambar and Níniel do.  [All of these themes without exception are heard for the first time in Húrin. Only that of Húrin himself reappears in Gondolin.]


One should also note (to take one example) the shared musical harmonies, rhythms and melodic cells which lends a virtual identity to Morgoth and Glaurung, an identity which is underlined by the fact that both roles are taken by the same singer.  At one stage I had even contemplated an actual alteration of Tolkien’s text, implying an actual physical identity (it is, after all stated that Glaurung “spake by the evil spirit that was in him”) but quite rightly Christopher Tolkien objected to this even in the context of Húrin as a separate work, and it could find no place at all in a complete Silmarillion cycle.  Indeed the musical underpinnings, emphasising Glaurung’s role as a creature of Morgoth’s will, was and should have been sufficient.


What I did, and do, regard as important is that Glaurung’s influence over Túrin and Niënor is not simply to be regarded as stemming solely from Morgoth.  It stems rather from within themselves, and therefore their resultant incest also stems from the same source.  Glaurung’s words to Túrin demonstrate to the latter a vision of himself, as a murderer, traitor and foolhardy boaster, which is not unknown to him; on the contrary, he is fatally ready to believe such descriptions, because this view of himself is what he himself already believes in his innermost thoughts.  It is for this reason, as much as because of any enchantment of Morgoth, that he hides himself and his identity in Brethil, as he has already fled from Doriath: because he seems himself in the role of a fugitive from justice.  This is the shadow that, as Mablung proclaims early in his career, lies upon his heart; and that grows darker.


Similarly with Niënor.  When she was in Doriath she of course learned of her brother’s flight from there, and can but have concluded that his failure of await the King’s judgement argued a measure of weakness.  Consequently when Glaurung tells her that this same brother, left to defend the women and weaklings, deserted them and fled, it is a lie that she is already half-prepared to credit.  Her defiance, her statement that "the children of Húrin at least are not craven", betrays her inner uncertainty; for if the least that she can say is that they are not craven, what else does she believe?  Glaurung, inevitably, provides the alternative answer that she fears: “Then you are fools, both you and your brother”, and it is the confirmation of these innermost fears in the dragon’s words which finally drives her memory from her.  At the end of the tale Morwen is the only one undefeated, if only because she has still not faced the questions within herself that her ill-fated family have; and Húrin will not answer her final question.


This approach to the work explains two mysterious chordal sequences which recur throughout the score.  One is the representation of the shadow lying on Túrin’s heart, that shadow upon which Mablung remarked, and reappears thereafter on many occasions.  The other first appears when the chorus sings of Finduilas’s cries to Túrin when she is taken from Nargothrond: “He may not stop his ears against the voice that will haunt him thereafter”.  This is the voice both of Finduilas and of his own conscience, and it too will reappear many times.


At the end of the work, Túrin is dead, and it is therefore appropriate that the long orchestral lament over the fallen hero should nonetheless recall us to thoughts of his living father; it begins with this theme in its original form, and continues to dominate the music.  As the orchestral climax is reached the theme of the curse returns in a triumphant apotheosis as Morgoth, his ambitions fulfilled, releases the broken Húrin back into the world.  Here at last he encounters Morwen his wife, bent and anxious but still unbowed.  As she dies and the sun rises, a polyphonic web of themes shows the conflicting thoughts and emotions that are running through Húrin’s head.  For Túrin is not the hero of  Narn i Hîn Húrin; he reacts to other events, and when he initiates action on his own account the results are invariably disastrous.  It is therefore here, in this final and lonely defiance, that it is finally established that the father is indeed the protagonist.  As he looks on the dead body of his wife, at the scene of the tragedy which engulfed their children, the musical reflection of his thoughts turns not to despair but to the theme of the Second Children of Ilúvatar, the theme that first occurred in the Narn when Túrin declared what may be seen as some of the key words of the work:

Though mortal men have little life beside the span of the elves, they would rather spend it in battle that die or submit...Is it not written into the history of the world, which neither Good nor Evil can unwrite?


On these words the teller of the Narn may bring his narrative to a fitting end.


There is nothing in this analysis which needs revision, but obviously it does not tell the whole story.  While the same differentiation between different realms of music is clearly and carefully maintained throughout the cycle as a whole, the dichotomy between the different strands is perhaps most closely observed in this, the first work of the cycle to actually be written.  The remainder of this musical analysis, which follows the same procedure as that previously adopted in Fëanor and Beren and Lúthien, and which includes references back to the music examples included in those analyses, should be read in the light of the foregoing. 


The Prologue opens with a hulking statement of 4 on the solo tuba, and Morgoth’s opening words are declaimed over the same accompaniment as that which accompanied his first words as the Enemy in Fëanor.  The rhythm of the opening phrase, I am the Elder King, his grand claim to be the rightful Ruler of Middle-Earth, has however a significance which goes far beyond the words themselves, and it will assume a role as the theme which reinforces Morgoth’s claims to be the Master of the Fates of Earth.  It will be noted that the theme has already been heard before, in Fëanor, as 35; but here in Húrin it will assume a far greater importance, for (to quote The Silmarillion in Tolkien’s own words) in this Tale is laid out much of the most wicked works of Morgoth Bauglir. 4 returns again, and now leads to a new theme, that of the captive mortal Húrin:




and this is immediately succeeded by another new theme, which will become significant as the theme of Morgoth’s curse upon Húrin’s children (it will be noted that this derives closely from one of Morgoth’s own themes, 18, to which reference has already been made):




the whole of Morgoth’s opening statement coming to a halt with the characteristic intervals of the augmented fourth (28).


Húrin himself does not sing when he replies; indeed, his is the only purely spoken role in the whole of the cycle.  The origins of this lay in the original plan for one solitary work, and arose because of the need for the performer taking the role of Húrin to spend the greater part of the evening perched aloft on top of a raised pillar or platform.  I considered that this was asking a lot of the singer, if the role were to be sung, since singers cannot be guaranteed to be models of athletic perfection.  By throwing the role, therefore, open to an actor, it was possible to arrange for the sheer physical effort to be undergone by a great many more would-be performers.  Having said this, the spoken voice in this scene is rightly dwarfed by the cavernous and amplified voice of Morgoth, and the dramatic contrast of this is in itself desirable.


Morgoth attempts to daunt Húrin; in the original tale, he takes a sword and breaks it in front of Húrin’s eyes.  The theme of the sword is heard:




and the augmented fourths of 28 are intertwined with the diminished seconds of 14.  Húrin says that Morgoth cannot pursue his children beyond the Circles of the World (12), and Morgoth chillingly agrees because beyond the Circles of the World is Nothing.  Húrin’s protestation that Morgoth lies is hardly whispered, and 109 rears and plunges through the whole spectrum of the orchestra as Húrin is raised to the high place from which he will behold the workings of Morgoth’s curse.  As Morgoth ceases, 109 dies down and is replaced by another new theme, that of Húrin’s forsaken and pregnant wife, Morwen: 



The first scene opens with a brief passage for chorus, which begins with a reference back to the theme of Húrin; but this reference will later assume an independent identity, as the theme of the storytellers (the chorus) who are telling the Narn:





4 flickers uneasily in the orchestra as the chorus tells of the irruptions of the Easterlings, the thralls of Morgoth, into Húrin’s abandoned kingdom.  112 brings this passage to an end, and another new theme appears, that of Húrin’s family, the House of Hador:



and, as will be seen, this theme assumes importance for the remainder of the cycle, even reappearing in the very final bars of The Fall of Gondolin; because it is the theme of the Houses of Men, the Elf-friends, whose actions will come increasingly to dominate not only the rest of The Silmarillion, but the Second and Third Ages of Middle-Earth as well.  Túrin is angry at the invasion of his land by the Easterlings (4 flickers uneasily again), and 108 and 109 accompany his complaint.  Morwen’s reply (111) is fatalistic, and 4 hints at her fears; Túrin is unable to restrain his tears, and 109 takes on a new and plangent form.

The chorus take over as Morwen and Túrin fall silent.  The once ominous theme of 94 now takes on a violent and menacing aspect, as they ask


Who knows now the counsels of Morgoth?

Who can fathom the depth of his thought,

and 4 rumbles forbiddingly in the bass.  Morwen is roused from her gloomy contemplations, and 112 becomes more agitated as she tells Túrin that he must leave his homeland and depart for the South.


Túrin is devastated and the thought of abandoning his mother and the house of his fathers, but 113 underlines not only his protests but Morwen’s reply that she does not wish him to fall into slavery and thraldom.  109 also sounds through the orchestra, but Morwen now returns to the theme of Doriath, 10, which had already been foreshadowed in the preceding material; and then, as she bids farewell to her son, 111 takes on a heightened tone as the melody of her extended aria.  Morgoth’s minor seconds interrupt the lyricism as Túrin turns and cries Morwen, Morwen, when shall I see you again? — the last phrase to a reminiscence of 109— before 4, 109, 35 and an exaggeratedly rapid reiteration of 111 lead to the end of the scene with a final reference to 4.

The second scene opens with an extended passage for chorus describing the birth of Niënor to the pregnant Morwen, the journey of Túrin to Doriath, and his fostering and upbringing there.  Throughout the scene a short jerky figure, derived from the profile of 108, continually makes its presence felt:




and in its initial appearance this is heard against the theme of Niënor: 




and a brief reference back to 108, while the chorus’s narrative is set to 112.  The theme of Doriath (10) is now heard once again at full length, with 114 forming a persistent counterpoint; and at its climax the chorus takes over one wing of the lengthy melody, which will become the specific motive associated with Túrin’s friend and protector, the elf Beleg Cúthalion:




The chorus sings of Túrin’s growing despair and anger at the fate of his abandoned mother, and reference is made to Saeros, Turgon’s adviser, who takes advantage of this despair to rouse Túrin’s wrath. 


In some staged performances it may be it is felt that this provocation should be made more explicit, to explain what is after all the first of many killings for which the rash Túrin is responsible; in that case there exists a version of the scene where Saeros verbally upbraids Túrin (although the music for this scene remains otherwise unchanged)  Otherwise the cause for Túrin’s explosion into violence is given only by the repeated and heavy reiterations of Morwen’s own theme (111) in the bass under the increasingly violent clamour of 114. 


It is these various forms of 114 which underpin the music as Túrin sets Saeros before him to run naked as a hunted deer through the woods, and these are soon joined by the shadow of 4.  As Mablung comes across the chase and calls to Túrin to hold, his own theme (like Beleg Cúthalion’s, another wing of 10) is proclaimed by the trombones:



and 109 finally peals out as the luckless Saeros falls headlong and lies dead.  The opening limb of 10 is given out by a solo cello, and the pizzicato basses give one last hint of 114. 

The various limbs of 10—firstly, Mablung’s 117 and then 10 itself—underpin Mablung’s call for Túrin to return with him to face the judgement of Thingol; but Túrin refuses (114, 109 and 108) and Mablung reluctantly lets him depart.  109 is now succeeded by a new theme, a twisted chordal sequence which depicts the shadow which Mablung perceives to lie upon Túrin’s heart (this is one of the two psychological themes referred to in the Amon Hen paper to which reference was made earlier):




As Túrin passes from the stage, 109 and 108 compete with 117 as Mablung asks How shall we harbour one who scorns  the law, or pardon one who will not repent? but he is immediately answered by 116 as Beleg appears on the scene.  The final phrase of 10 is heard as he begins to explain the nature of Túrin’s dealings with Saeros, and the chorus (initially to 112, but moving upwards now) tell of Túrin’s capture by the Orcs who bound him and led him away.  Themes from Fëanor which depicted the Orcs (30, 16 and 17) return and struggle with 108 before 10 suddenly returns and the action moves back to Beleg and Mablung in Doriath.

Mablung recognises that Túrin has been provoked (111) and Beleg says that he will seek him out to bring him back to Doriath (various parts of 10 including Beleg’s own 116).  Mablung offers Beleg a sword of worth and Beleg chooses the dark blade of Anglachel (110 returns from the Prologue).  Mablung warns him that it will not love the hand it serves but Beleg is undaunted.  To a full statement of 10 he declares his intention of finding Túrin.


The final chords of 10 are suddenly interrupted as the third scene begins.  A furious fugato begins on the theme of 17, and this leads to a series of descending scales constructed around Morgoth’s diminished fifths: 




which will form the major themes of the thunderstorm which is soon to break.  30 and 16 accompany the chorus (who sing another variant of 112) as they tell of Beleg’s pursuit of the Orcs who have captured Túrin.  As Beleg comes across the sleeping and weary Gwindor in the forest, the first of Gwindor’s two themes is darkly given out by the bass clarinet: 




and the strings then immediately give the second part of the theme, ending in a similar phrase:




Beleg’s theme itself is coloured by the diminished-fifth harmony as he rouses Gwindor, who explains about his captivity in Angband (4) and his escape.  As he tells of seeing the Orc-band passing northwards, 119 flickers in the wind, and 30 is percussively given out by strings and whips before a full orchestral declaration of the same theme accompanied by 16.  A final blast of 4 accompanies the two as they set out in pursuit of the Orcs and their captive, and the full orchestra boils and bubbles with 17 and 119.


The chorus describe the rescue of Túrin from the orc-camp by Beleg and Gwindor; existing material (16, 30, 120 in conjunction with 116, 108 and 121) accompanies their description of the scene.  The storm draws nearer (17 and 119) as Beleg draws his sword to cut Túrin’s bonds (110 and 108) but Túrin is roused, thinking the Orcs have come again to torment him (16 and 30 again), and seizing Beleg’s sword (110) kills him.  As he stands amid the raging storm (17) the lightning (119) shows him Beleg’s face, and a violent orchestral climax combines 116, 109, 17, 119, 108, 113, and 35 in a passage of towering ferocity.  Slowly the storm dies down, and 17 mutters away into the distance.


Gwindor rises and approaches Túrin nervously (120 and 121).  In answer to Túrin’s expressionless question Who are you? he explains his escape from slavery to a rising series of chords:




which will recur, and then talks of his forthcoming return to Nargothrond (64 from Beren and Lúthien here returns for the first time).  Túrin asks whether Gwindor has seen his father (108) but Gwindor says he has not (122), although rumour of him runs through Angband (109) that he still defies Morgoth (35), and Morgoth has cursed both him and his kin (109).  As he leads Túrin away, several themes from earlier in the scene return in a final valediction: 35, 110, 116 and finally a whispered 109 brings the first triptych to a sombre conclusion.

The second triptych, set throughout in Nargothrond, opens by contrast in clear light.  A wordless female chorus, divided into near and distant voices, give out a new theme which will become that of the elven princess Finduilas:




The fourth scene is divided into four quadrants, divided by varying intervals of time.  At the opening of the first quadrant Túrin and Gwindor come to Nargothrond, and Gwindor (to 64, 122 and 4) tells of the wrath of Angband which he soon expects.  When he talks of the coming winter, a churning melodic line (partly derived from 121) accompanies his words: 




The optimistic Túrin (113) is more confident, but Gwindor (122) remains unconvinced.  Túrin now sings the words quoted earlier in this analysis, those which will become the final melody of the work:




Finduilas says that although she does not know his true name (108 hints at it), she will call him Thurin, the secret.  Túrin, alarmed at the nearness of her guess (musical as well as linguistic), changes the subject of the conversation to Gwindor (120 and 121) and the defence of Nargothrond which will give time to Gwindor for the healing he needs:




A ffff restatement of the opening phrase of 123, answered fff by the full wordless chorus, leads to the third quadrant of the scene. 

Túrin taxes Gwindor with his growing depression (122) and is startled by Gwindor’s reaction (124); he wishes that he and Gwindor were one in mind (120 and 121), but an ominous rattle of 35 hints at darker passions beneath the surface.  Gwindor (122) does not explain, but references to 109 and the dark theme of Túrin’s shadow (118, now heard for the first time since its initial statement in Scene Two) say more than his silence can.  The wordless chorus, now heard for the last  time, is now confined to male voices in four parts, and they sing only the final section of the extended melody of 123; the full strings play 120, molto espressivo.

The fourth quadrant opens with Gwindor attempting to warn Finduilas against Túrin.  His opening words exactly recapitulate the music from the beginning of the first quadrant, but this is soon interrupted by 121, and then by 125 as he speaks of Túrin’s dark doom (35 mutters in the bass, followed by 108).  4 rises menacingly through the orchestra, to be succeeded rapidly by 109 and then by 41.  The impassioned climax of his appeal is followed by a forceful statement of 120; but Finduilas is unmoved.  To a delicate filigree accompaniment wound around a restatement of 123, she sings of her love for Túrin; but recognises that this love is unrequited (125 wistfully played by the clarinet, leading to a cold restatement of 126.  Further references to 64, 4 and 120 lead to her impassioned plea What of death and destruction? set to a violent restatement of 94.  Her recognition of Túrin’s worth (set to an insouciant restatement of 125) leads back to her own 123, now ever more emotionally charged; and this is succeeded by Ulmo’s words of warning to Orodreth and the people of Gondolin: Cast the stones of your pride into the loud river, that the creeping evil may not find the gate sung by the chorus to the final phrase of 123 while the orchestra hints violently at the theme of Glaurung, the creeping evil referred to (15).

Túrin comes from the Gate in haste and armed ready for battle; Finduilas asks him why he has concealed his identity (64), for then she would better have understood his grief (111).  Túrin reacts with anger (109) to Gwindor’s betrayal of his name (35), but Gwindor responds that the doom lies with Túrin himself (118) and not in his name (120).  The scene ends as phrases from 123 dissolve into silence.


Suddenly 30 and 16 erupt as the fifth scene begins with a description of the battle of Tumhalad.  4 and 35 also make their presence felt.  When the chorus begins its description of the battle 127 describes the warriors of Nargothrond in attack, and 108 illustrates Túrin’s attack; but the sudden appearance of the great dragon Glaurung (15) puts all to flight.  Gwindor (120 over 16) is killed and Túrin speeds back to Nargothrond (64).  Finduilas’ melody of 123 is heard molto espressivo over the discordant barkings of 16, 30 and 35 as the scene shows the sack of Nargothrond.  Túrin comes rapidly across the bridge in the first wind of winter (124) and is confronted by Glaurung.


Glaurung’s opening words (set to 28) are accompanied at first by a high tremolo on the piano, and then by constant repetitions of his own 15 and 35.  Distorted versions of various themes are heard during his taunting of the son of Húrin (110) as slayer of thy friend (116), thief of love (64), captain foolhardy (127) and betrayer of thy kin (109); but as Túrin stands still, seeing himself “in a mirror misshapen by malice”, a new theme is heard as Finduilas, calling for assistance, is dragged rapidly away by the Orcs:



as the chorus sing the words of the narrator:


He may not stop his ears against the voice that

will haunt him hereafter.

This is the second of the “psychological” motifs referred to in the Amon Hen article cited earlier.


Túrin, suddenly stirring and coming to himself (110), makes to attack Glaurung (15), but Glaurung is unmoved (41); Túrin’s death will be of small help to his mother (111) or his sister (115).  Túrin has paid no heed to the cries of Finduilas (64 rapidly interrupted by a violent restatement of 128); if he denies the need of his kin (28 and then rapidly figured repetitions of 111), Húrin shall learn of it (109).  As Túrin turns away to go in search of his abandoned family, 109 and 108 are heard over a new figuration on the timpani, derived ultimately from 110:




This figure is repeated one hundred and eleven times, like a thought drilling deep into Túrin’s mind.  Glaurung mocks him, bidding him haste in search of Morwen (111), or his kin shall curse him (109).  The same figuration continues as the sixth scene opens with a brief reference to 113 and 111 as the chorus describe the riding of the distraught Morwen into the wild searching for her son (108); and how she is followed by her daughter Niënor (115) and Mablung (117), who bids the women return with him to Doriath (111).

Niënor proudly replies that she will not return (115); she is called Mourning, but she will not mourn alone for father, brother, mother (111).  Morwen asks what she would do; Niënor replies that she would rather go to Doriath (10), but is willing to follow her mother to Nargothrond (121 followed by 64).  Morwen insists she will go on (111) and as the figuration of 129 begins again (this time for eighty-two repetitions) Mablung turns in dismay to his companions (117), asking what is to be done.  Morwen will not be swayed, and Mablung finally agrees to follow her also.


The repetitions of 129 now become ever more convoluted as they are overlapped one with another in three different rhythms.  The mists descend on the stage, and both women become lost.  Niënor alone comes through the mist to Nargothrond (4) and looks into the eyes of Glaurung (15, followed by the same tremolo on the piano).  The course of the conversation with follows has already been referred to in the discussion on the Amon Hen article cited earlier.  As Glaurung calls both Niënor and her brother fools, the piano tremolo descends to a deep reference to 14 and the texture of his utterances become identical to those of Morgoth himself (even the use of Morgoth’s monotone).  References to 4 and 15 lead to repeated restatements of 35, yet more reiterations of 129, a solitary declamation of 109 and a cluster of timpani chords as Niënor, her memory stripped from her, runs in despair from the Gate and the curtain falls.

The third triptych opens with an extended orchestral prelude, which begins with a reiterated rhythm on the harp:




which underpins the following expressive melody played by cor anglais and strings:




the final phrase of which is an echo of 106; then 131 is repeated in its entirety over a new and flowing accompaniment.  After a middle section depicting the sunrise in the forest glade of Brethil where most of the action of the third triptych will take place, the melody of 131 returns over its original accompaniment of 130, and the latter brings the prelude to an end.  It then begins again as the men of Brethil enter the glade, led by Dorlas, and the first words of the latter, Who are you, and what do you here? will become the theme of Brethil itself:




Túrin revives (to 109), and explains that he has been searching for Finduilas (64) for many weeks (128).  Dorlas (132) says that his search is over, and tells of Finduilas’ death to a final extended statement of 123, played on solo violins.  Túrin falls in a swoon (109 against the closing phrases of 123, and followed by 128 over a throbbing bass in the timpani and strings), and Dorlas recognises him as the hero of Nargothrond (108 followed by 127). 

Brandir, the leader of the men of Brethil, enters; his theme depicts at once his nobility and his dragging gait:




He upbraids the men for bringing hither the last bane of our people, but when Dorlas protests (132), he bends over the unconscious Túrin to succour him:




Túrin revives and sings regretfully of his past life:


All my deeds and past days were dark and full of evil. 

But a new day is come,

and the theme of his opening words will recur many times in the remainder of the action:




134 returns as he sings of his resolution to stay in Brethil at peace, and put his shadow (118) behind him.  He will take a new name, Turambar, Master of Doom:




and he begs the men of Brethil (132) to forget that he is a stranger among them, or that he ever bore any other name. 


Brandir bows low in acknowledgement of his wishes (133), and he and his men move away into the trees (134).  Dorlas alone remains (136), and asks if he is not in truth the son of Húrin (132); Túrin replies obliquely, but begs Dorlas not to give away his secret.  As they turn to follow the others, the lower line of 134 is heard in isolation on a solo cello.


The interlude which follows is given to the chorus alone over a thudding timpani ostinato, with fleeting references to 121 (the captives sad) and 94 (their dungeons); and it is the latter theme which leads into the eighth scene.  Over a bass line derived from 4 Niënor runs into the glade, and 115 is combined with itself in various rhythmic guises.  The men of Brethil come in pursuit of her (132, similarly rhythmically transformed), and as she revives the second phrase of 113 is combined with a transformed and other-worldly variant of 129 and the underlying rhythm of 130. 


Túrin asks her for her name and kindred, but she is unable to answer, even when he offers to lead her to our homes in the forest (the original form of 132).  A desperate hint at 115 still leaves Niënor speechless, so Túrin declares that he will give her a name, Níniel, Maiden of Tears:



She accepts the name, and asks for his: Turambar (136), he replies, which means Master of the Dark Shadow (118).  130 begins again in the strings, and continues for its full length, becoming the theme which underlines the duet during which Turambar and Níniel realise their love for each other.  The middle section of this becomes an interlude during which time passes and then Turambar proposes marriage to Níniel (to 131 again) and the final phrase (106) is taken up enthusiastically by the chorus, echoing not only the words but also the music of Beren and Luthien.

The ninth scene opens as Brandir stands before the people (133) and tells them of the advent of Glaurung (15), which means that they must flee (4 together with 132).  But Túrin scorns such advice (127); he proposes to confront the Dragon (110).  He calls for men to accompany him (4 and 15 combined, followed by 136 and then 132); Dorlas pours scorn on the crippled Brandir (132 leading to 133) who cannot lead his people, but Turambar defends him:

Your place is with your people, for you are wise, and a healer. 

And it may be that there will be great need

of wisdom and healing ere long.

Brandir is unmoved.  He allows Dorlas to go (132), but refuses to bless the expedition, for the shadow which lies on Túrin (118) will lead them to evil (109).  Níniel too, who now comes running through the woods (137), also tries to dissuade Turambar; but he is similarly unbending (135), bidding her remember their unborn child (a sudden reminiscence of 115, followed by 35, reminds the listener of the unwitting incest which has given rise to this situation).  He prophesies that neither he nor Níniel shall be slain by the Dragon (113), nor by any Foe of the North (15).  He kisses her gently and raises her, sending her away with Brandir and the other woodsfolk: 137 gives way to a calm recollection of 131 and then Brandir’s own theme 133 ppp on the woodwind.

Túrin and Dorlas are left alone to confront Glaurung.  The coming of the Dragon is heralded by eruptions of 4, 14 and 35; and Dorlas, turning as if to flee with the other men, falls into the ravine and is killed (132) leaving Túrin alone (108 and 109, leading to 136).  His combat with the Dragon contrasts 15 and 35 with 4 and 110, and his final words to Glaurung and the darkness have thee! echo 28 before he too falls unconscious by the side of his defeated foe (35). 

Gently 130 sounds again as Niënor steals cautiously out of the woods (137), accompanied by Brandir (133).  She will not wait for tidings, she tells him (136 with 130 ever more thrustful in the bass).  Brandir still counsels patience, but she runs on before him and comes to the unconscious body of her brother (115).  As she bends over him, calling his name Turambar, Turambar! (to 136), the orchestra gives out 15. 35, 108, 4, 133 and 137 in one heartfelt flood over three bars.  She calls out to him that the Dragon is dead (15) but the dying Glaurung awakens for the last time to remove the enchantment from her senses.  His music here recalls that when he placed similar enchantments on Túrin, as he calls her brother a stabber in the dark (116), treacherous to foes (16), faithless to friends (64), and a curse until his kin (108), Túrin son of Húrin (109).  His last words are set to 109 descending to a voiceless bottom C.  Niënor is horrified; she stands looking down at her brother with anguish (35), runs towards the river as her own theme 115 returns to haunt her, and casts herself into the ravine (35) as Brandir looks on horrified (133).


The men of Brethil return out of the forest (130 and 132), asking where Níniel has gone (137).  Brandir confronts       them  (133),  telling  them  that  the Dragon is dead (15), that Turambar (for so he thinks) is dead (136), and that these tidings are good.  131 sounds once more gently in the orchestra as he tells the people that Níniel is also dead, for she has discovered in truth who she really is, the sister of her husband.  The people stand in horror; and at that moment Túrin’s voice is heard from the river (110).  He has revived.  He comes briskly forward (108), seeking his wife (137) to tell her of what has happened.  Brandir tells him that Níniel is not there (a final whisper of 131), and tells Túrin that Níniel was really his sister (109, as the curse begins to fall upon Túrin).  Túrin is aghast (108); he recognises that some may have guessed his identity (the bass line of 134, as when Dorlas made a similar guess at the end of the seventh scene), but that nothing could be known of his sister (115): It is a trick of your own vile mind, to drive my wife witless, and now me. 133 sounds through the orchestra in various distortions, but Brandir remains firm, calling him by his name Túrin son of Húrin (to Morgoth’s 28).  133 in fragmented blocks of sound punctuate Túrin’s increasing despair, and he draws his sword and hew Brandir to death (110).  At that moment Mablung enters the glade (117), praising Túrin’s deed in slaying the Great Worm (15); but Túrin is no longer capable of response (10 and 137).  His request for news of his family is greeted by Mablung with dismay (129 returns and rises to ever-greater heights until it is overwhelmed by 35.  This is the moment when Túrin realises the full measure of what has happened, as similarly the Finnish hero Kullervo finds in the Kalevala (on which Tolkien states several times in his correspondence the tale of Túrin was initially founded).  It is therefore perhaps appropriate that one chord is quoted here from Sibelius’s Kullervo, where it depicts the same instant of recognition:



Túrin’s rage is extinguished; he is blind, blind, groping since birth in the dark mist of Morgoth (109).  He curses Doriath (10) and hails the coming of the night; as he flees into the forest, 108 gives way to 109 and 35 and one final statement of 136.


The cold light reveals Túrin standing alone and speaking to his sword.  As in the Finnish legend of Kullervo, the sword answers him declaring its willingness and eagerness to take his life (110 in various ethereal and otherworldly forms).  Túrin casts himself on his sword.  A slow funeral march begins, initially building up from 108 and then expanding into a new theme: 




which gives way in its turn to a hint of 127.  At the climax 109 screams its way down through the full orchestra, and Húrin’s pillar which has stayed aloft above all the action, settles to the ground.  The funeral march begins again as Húrin makes his way towards the body of his son, and then turns to 111 as he sees Morwen crouched by the side of the grave.  Wisps of the funeral march accompany their conversation; since Húrin does not sing, Morwen here reduces herself to his level of humanity by speaking also.  He will not answer her questions; instead, he sits down by her and holds her hand as 139 weaves its way through a tangled web made up of many of the themes associated with their luckless children: 111, 137, and 136.  Finally 111 sounds once again as Morwen grasps his hand, and lies

still.  He looks down upon her, and 42 returns, bestowing its gentle benediction across the scene (for a fuller description of this passage, see the section from Amon Hen cited earlier).  The final phrase is a transformation of 108 and 112, the web of myth through which the whole of the tragic history has been viewed.



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