Lord of the Rings Score

You Can See the Original “Lord of the Rings” Score in Milwaukee

Marquette University has just acquired Johan de Meij’s critically acclaimed opus.

It’s been 64 years since The Fellowship of the Ring – the first volume in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy – was published. But fans around the world have yet to tire of the sweeping vistas and expansive cityscapes of Middle Earth.

Lord of the Rings Score

And soon Milwaukeeans will be able to see Dutch composer Johan de Meij’s award-winning “Lord of the Rings” score at Marquette. The university’s department of Special Collections and University Archives has just acquired the handwritten 193-page score, as well as parts for each instrument and preliminary sketches created for each of the work’s five movements.

Johan de Meij started working on the symphony in 1982, and it was first performed in 1988 – long before the LOTR film franchise was even a glimmer in Peter Jackson’s eye.

According to William Fliss, curator of Marquette’s J.R.R. Tolkien Collection (yup, the university houses thousands of Tolkien-related relics, including sketches, paintings, games and puzzles associated with his iconic trilogy, in a special collection on campus), “This symphony is significant because it was one of the first – if not the first – musical composition that attained international stature related to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ not linked with any film or movie.”

The manuscripts will soon be available to scholars and students interested in consulting them for research projects.



Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.