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Our favourite Lord of the Rings songs, as the soundtrack tops Classic FM poll

Christopher Lee as the evil Saruman in The Lord of the Rings (European Press Agency/PA) (PA Media)
Christopher Lee as the evil Saruman in The Lord of the Rings (European Press Agency/PA) (PA Media)

The soundtrack to The Lord Of The Rings has been voted the nation’s favourite film music in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall Of Fame 2023.

Howard Shore’s score beat the likes of Schindler’s List, which was runner-up, and Star Wars, which came in third place.

More than 10,000 votes were cast by members of the public in a poll to find the nation’s most popular piece of film music. The top 100 were played on Classic FM before the number one was revealed by chat show host and radio presenter Jonathan Ross at just before 7pm on Monday.

He said: “I’m so thrilled to see The Lord Of The Rings make it to number one in this incredible celebration of history’s greatest film scores in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame.

“JRR Tolkien’s adventures are beautiful, spectacular films, but the experience is so enhanced by the incredible score that I’m delighted to see Howard Shore’s music getting this much love.”

Reacting to the news, Shore said: “Many thanks to all the Classic FM listeners. I’m very happy that I was able to bring you a little closer to JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth.”

Other music in the top 20 included the soundtracks of Gladiator, Chariots Of Fire, Titanic, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Godfather and Interstellar.

There were some lesser-known soundtracks also on the list: Debbie Wiseman’s composition for Wilde came in at number six on the list, John Barry’s Dances with Wolves came in at seven and Migel Hess’ Ladies in Lavender came in at number 14.

John Williams emerged victorious as the nation’s favourite composer in the list with five of his scores in the top 20 alone – Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.

The first Lord Of The Rings film in the trilogy premiered in 2001 and won Oscars for visual effects, make-up, cinematography, and best original score.

More recently, it has enjoyed a resurgence with the launch of The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power TV series. Season one was released in 2022.

In honour of his score topping the poll, we’ve picked our favourite songs from Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings’ soundtrack.

1. Evenstar

This gorgeous song was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and stars Canadian-Armenian opera singer Isabel Bayrakdarian. If you’re a fan of the trilogy it’ll transport you to the second film’s moving father-daughter scene right away. Here for the tunes? There’s no denying that Bayrakdarian has otherworldly talent as she reaches her very highest notes.

2. Aragorn’s Song

Towards the end of the The Return of the King, Aragorn sings to his new subjects in one of the most moving scenes in the whole film – which isn’t half saying something given that the three-hour movie is one epic sequence after another. It’s the contrast between the historical importance of his coronation, contrasted against the softness of his folk song, which gives the scene such welly.

3. Minas Tirith

The track Minas Tirith takes listeners on a journey: first it’s eerie, reflecting the danger that’s heading towards the white city, then it seems to gain confidence, becoming bold and bombastic, reflecting the grandeur of Gondor’s capital. Then the track suddenly quietens, as a soprano cuts through the orchestra: fans are transported to the breath-taking moment in the Return of the King, when Gandalf uses his staff to repel the Nazgûl who are picking off soldiers galloping back from the battle of Osgiliath.

4. The Uruk-hai

Peter Jackson did such a good job of depicting Saruman’s savage warriors that over two decades later, they remain one of film’s scariest (and ugliest) antagonists. The scene of the fighters running across the plains carrying Pippin and Merry is enough to send shivers down your spine; Shore’s track, The Uruk-hai, is the perfect match for the drama, becoming truly frightening two minutes in, as a thunderous clanging in the composition seems to mirror their marching.

5. Andúril

The moment that Aragorn takes the reforged sword Andúril from Lord Elrond is one of the most pivotal scenes of the entire third film. His acceptance of the sword means he will be able to command The Dead Men of Dunharrow, and will therefore win the decisive battle of Pelennor Fields. Shore’s Andúril, which soundtracks the scene, reflects the importance: the track is both dramatic and uplifting.

The Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame 2023, Top 20:

1. The Lord of the Rings – Howard Shore

2. Schindler’s List – John Williams

3. Star Wars – John Williams

4. Out of Africa – John Barry

5. Gladiator – Hans Zimmer

6. Wilde – Debbie Wiseman

7. Dances with Wolves – John Barry

8. Jurassic Park – John Williams

9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Ennio Morricone

10. The Mission – Ennio Morricone

11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – John Williams

12. Chariots of Fire – Vangelis

13. Indiana Jones – John Williams

14. Ladies in Lavender – Nigel Hess

15. Doctor Zhivago – Maurice Jarre

16. The Magnificent Seven – Elmer Bernstein

17. Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

18. The Godfather – Nino Rota

19: Titanic – James Horner

20. Pirates of the Caribbean – Klaus Bedelt

Classic FM is available across the UK on Global Player, 100-102 FM, DAB digital radio and TV, and ClassicFM.com.