Program Notes

Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings & Richard Wagner’s The Ring: Side-by-Side

This weekend’s 2022-2023 season finale performances feature music by two composers, Howard Shore and Richard Wagner, both of whom were taken by the concept of “The Ring.” In point of fact, the unique juxtaposition of these two composers’ music has rarely been presented to illuminate this concept.

Howard Shore’s beloved film music composed for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy including, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King bring to life the powers of the ring. The films are based on the masterpiece by the English writer, J.R.R. Tolkien. A new 2022 tv series, “The Rings of Power,” seeks to further explore the mysteries behind the legend.

Richard Wagner’s, Der Ring des Nibelungen consists of four of Wagner’s greatest operas. This magnum opus took Wagner 28 years to compose and rehearse. It was finally performed for the first time in 1876.

The four operas of The Ring cycle are: Das Rhinegold (The Rhine Gold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods.) Each year in Bayreuth, Germany the city where Wagner had a theater built for presentation of The Ring operas, the cycle is presented.
The works of The Ring cycle are loosely based on German heroic legend, namely Norse legendary sagas. The complete Ring cycle takes place over four nights of opera performances, with some 15 hours of playing by the orchestra. You might say, it’s a herculean endeavor!
This program essentially comprises the “greatest hits” by Shore and Wagner from these two epic bodies of work. No doubt you’ll recognize favorites such as Concerning Hobbits and The Shadow of the Past. Shore’s music is so delightfully descriptive of the film’s elements.

The program begins with Wagner’s famous Ride of the Valkyries. It sets the stage for what will be some very exciting performances. Siegfried’s Rhine Journey represents Wagner at his best and Wotan’s Farewell is pure magic. The MSO and I hope you enjoy this experience which given the featured works by Shore and Wagner, will truly be like no other.