Johan de Meij Collection of Tolkien Symphonies
Biographical/Scope & Content Note


This collection contains manuscripts and supporting records documenting the creation and reception of two symphonies by Dutch-born composer, Johan de Meij, inspired by the fictional works of author J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973).


Biographical Note

Born in Voorburg, the Netherlands, in 1953, Johan de Meij studied trombone and conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague. He worked professionally as a trombone and euphonium player with major orchestras and ensembles before achieving widespread fame with the debut of his first symphony, The Lord of the Rings, in March 1988.

In 1989 DeMeij's Symphony No. 1 The Lord of the Rings garnered the prestigious Sudler Composition Prize and has remained an internationally popular performance piece since its debut. The success of his first symphony led De Meij to work exclusively on composing and conducting.

De Meij returned to the works of J. R. R. Tolkien for the inspiration behind his fifth symphony, Return to Middle Earth, which debuted in November 2018. 

For information about Johan de Meij and his works, visit his website.


Scope and Content

The Johan de Meij Collection of Tolkien Symphonies is divided into two series, each devoted to one of the two symphonies De Meij created based on the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. The first series, covering Symphony No. 1, is much larger in size than the series devoted to the more recently released Symphony No. 5


Series 1: Symphony No. 1 The Lord of the Rings, 1982-2019 (4.0 cubic feet) documents the creation and reception of De Meij's first symphony. It is further divided into 5 subseries: 

Subseries 1: Manuscript composer score (1.5 cubic feet) consists of the original handwritten final score for the piece, divided into its five movements.

Subseries 2: Manuscript individual instrumental parts (0.9 cubic feet) contains De Meij's handwritten arrangements for the individual instruments performing the piece.

Subseries 3: Manuscript preliminary sketches (0.4 cubic feet) holds the original handwritten sketches and notes that preceded the composer score.

Subseries 4: Published score and recordings (0.8 cubic feet) contains the official score published by De Meij's company Amstel Music as well as recorded performances of the symphony. All recordings are on compact disc unless otherwise noted.

Subseries 5: Performance history (0.8 cubic feet) is an assortment of records that document public reception of the symphony. In addition to a large cache of programs, the subseries contains many press articles about De Meij's symphony, as well as a small number of academic writings about his work. 

Series 2: Symphony No. 5 Return to Middle Earth, 2018-2019 (0.2 cubic feet), consists of manuscript sketches from De Meij's fifth symphony as well as correspondence, programs, recordings, and media accounts related to its performances.