Marquette University acquires score to 'The Lord of the Rings'

July 26, 2018

Symphony from composer Johan De Meij bears the name of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel that inspired it

MILWAUKEE — The score to "The Lord of the Rings," an award-winning symphony bearing the name of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel that inspired it, has been added to Marquette University's extensive archival collections on the famed English author.

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 Marquette's Department of Special Collections and University Archives from the Dutch composer Johan de Meij.

The composer began work on the symphony in 1982 and it was first performed in 1988.

"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," said William Fliss, curator of Marquette's J.R.R. Tolkien collection. "We are excited to make the manuscripts available for use in research by scholars and students."

In 1989, the completed work earned de Meij the prestigious Sudler Prize for wind band composition. He now is composing "Return to Middle Earth," his fifth symphony, and will conduct its premiere performance at Valparaiso University on Nov. 3, 2018.

About Marquette's J.R.R. Tolkien collection
The collection contains the original manuscripts of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy in addition to various other original documents. Marquette has developed a significant collection of Tolkien's published works, with a book collection of more than 1,200 volumes. There is a collection of more than 270 titles of periodicals produced by Tolkien enthusiasts. Other literature consists of book reviews, dissertations, studies of Elvish languages, poems and songs, sketches and paintings, games and puzzles, and commemorative documentaries.

For media: Please contact Christopher Stolarski at (414) 288-6060 or at, to receive photos of the score and preliminary sketches developed by De Meij.