Library Acquires Tolkien-Inspired Symphony

May 2018—The Lord of the Rings, an award-winning symphony bearing the name of the J. R. R. Tolkien book that inspired it, has found a home in Raynor Memorial Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

The original, handwritten 193-page score, as well as parts for each instrument and preliminary sketches created for each of the work's five movements were acquired by the library's special collections department through a purchase from the composer. These manuscripts are now part of Marquette's extensive archival collections on J.R.R. Tolkien and, as such, are available for use in research by scholars and students.

Created by Dutch composer Johan De Meij, The Lord of the Rings symphony was first performed in 1988, making it one of the first—if not the first—musical composition related to The Lord of the Rings to attain international standing without any link to movies. De Meij began work on The Lord of the Rings in 1982; by 1989, the completed work had earned him the prestigious Sudler Prize for wind band composition. Thirty years after the release of his masterpiece, De Meij is now composing Return to Middle Earth—his fifth symphony. He will conduct its premiere performance at Valparaiso University in November, 2018.

More information about the De Meij manuscripts and the Tolkien collections can be obtained from William Fliss, curator, J. R. R. Tolkien Collection, in the library's special collections department.

Tolkien archivist Bill Fliss and composer Johan De Meij

Tolkien archivist William Fliss and composer Johan De Meij

Marquette students and Johan De Meij

De Meij discusses the score with Marquette students

Exterior of Raynor Memorial Libraries