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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Album Cover Art
2001 Regular
2001 Limited
Album 2 Cover Art
2003 Trilogy
Album 3 Cover Art
2005 Complete
Album 4 Cover Art
2010 Rarities Archive
Album 5 Cover Art
2018 Complete Re-Issue
Album 6 Cover Art
Composed, Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Co-Produced by:
Suzana Peric

Performed by:
The London Philharmonic Orchestra

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

The London Voices

The London Oratory School Schola

Solo Vocals by:
Edward Ross
Elizabeth Fraser
Miriam Stockley
Mabel Faletolu

Choral Text by:
J.R.R. Tolkien
Philippa Boyens
Fran Walsh
Labels Icon
Reprise Records
(Original and Limited)
(November 20th, 2001)

Reprise Records
(Trilogy Set)
(December 9th, 2003)

Reprise Records
(Complete Set)
(December 13th, 2005)

Howe Records
(Rarities Archive)
(October 5th, 2010)

Rhino/Reprise Records
(Re-issue Set)
(April 6th, 2018)
Availability Icon
The regular 2001 album originally priced between $15 to $17 in the stores is the regular U.S. release. The 2001 limited release is indicated by a higher price and a sticker indicating its "limited" nature on the front plastic, along with an optional version that comes enclosed in a faux red leather case. The musical contents are the same on both 2001 products. The value of the different cover inserts (on the trading block) is yet to be determined. They could very well end up useless unless you acquire a whole set of 4+ covers.

The 2003 trilogy set is essentially the original three albums from the films combined into one package (with no extra music). The 2005 set includes the complete recordings, priced initially for between $50 and $60, and features the DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound along with three CDs that offer 180 minutes from the score in 16-bit stereo sound. Other higher resolution variants on sound quality exist on the DVD. (See review for details.)

The 2010 Howe Records album called "The Rarities Archive" was only available in the back cover of the Doug Adams book The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores. That book had an MSRP of $60 but initially sold new for under $40.

The 2018 complete set is a re-issue of the 2005 product but with a Blu-ray disc rather than a DVD for the surround sound option. It debuted for $80 and remained in print longer than the two sequel set re-issues, retailing for less than $60 by 2020.
The score won both an Academy Award and a Grammy Award. The song "May It Be" was nominated for the same two awards. Both were also nominated for Golden Globes. The score was nominated for a BAFTA Award as well.
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2005/2018 Complete Set Review | 2010 Book/Rarities Archive Review
Buy it... on the 2005 or 2018 complete sets if you seek one of the best scores of the digital age of film music in a DVD-quality presentation that will, if you are properly equipped, stun both you and the people living down the street.

Avoid it... on the 2005 or 2018 complete sets if you do not use a surround sound system for your regular listening enjoyment and would prefer, in terms of content, the 70-minute 2001 album of highlights from the score.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 11/19/01, REVISED 8/30/20
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: (Howard Shore) No franchise in the history of the movie industry was as meticulously planned as Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, with several years of production coordination in the late 1990's leading to a series of three creatively superior and immensely popular films from 2001 to 2003. Not only did the work of Jackson and his dedicated crew enthrall the many hardcore fans of author J.R.R. Tolkien, but the appeal of his technically marvelous and well adapted films touched a wider audience that not only led to monumental box office returns, but critical accolades and countless Academy Awards (reaching beyond the usual boundaries of the technical categories for films in this genre). The translation of the saga of The Lord of the Rings happened to coincide with the same efforts being applied to the first of the Harry Potter books, making late 2001 an incredible time for fantasy enthusiasts. While the films were compared to each other frequently upon the close proximity of their debuts, the immense, epic quality of The Lord of the Rings surprised many industry prognosticators by emerging as the clear winner. Despite the many strengths of Christopher Columbus' endeavors for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the vast scope, stunning special effects, and intelligent narrative adaptation gave The Lord of the Rings a transcendent quality that has remained untouched in the rest of the decade. Perhaps the greatest key to success for this franchise was the adaptation of the original material, painstakingly cut to manageable size (though the films were still epics in length as well) by Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Another invaluable element of the narrative's equation would prove to be the music for the three films. Like the speculation a year prior to the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, there was much talk in film music circles about which composer would (or could) accept the laborious task of providing 12 hours of almost continuous music for the films over the course of four years of production, including the need for several source pieces that not only required ethnically unique instrumentation but also occasionally some expertise in Tolkien's specific language sets.

Many in the realm of film music mistakenly expected that veteran blockbuster composer James Horner would eventually receive and accept the assignment, especially given the strength of his thematically-complex and large scale fantasy writing for Willow (among others). When Howard Shore was announced as the artist of choice for Jackson's The Lord of the Rings franchise, initial collective gasps resonated from the film music and hobbit galleries. And yet, at a time when scores by the best known composers were beginning to be criticized for endlessly attempting to repeat old glories, the choice of Shore continuously made more sense. The composer had been typecast into a role of composing often subtle and introverted scores for cultish, dark films of suspense, horror, and disturbing drama, dating back to The Silence of the Lambs and The Fly. The extensive search for a composer for the Tolkien franchise, which had included Horner, Danny Elfman and Wojciech Kilar, ended with Shore because Jackson and Walsh were impressed by three facets of Shore's career: his ability to write intelligently for literary adaptations, his operatic sensibilities (as heard specifically in The Fly), and his broad knowledge of instrumental colors. The small contingent of the composer's dedicated fans prior to 2001 were understandably thrilled by the hire, because they correctly believed that Shore could provide an extraordinarily complex and memorable set of scores for this trilogy without resorting to the wholesale elements of predictability and simplistic brawn that a composer such as Horner may have employed. The exhilarating result of Shore's very lengthy efforts in the franchise gave the talented composer a chance to prove his critics wrong in the grandest of fashion, and it was an opportunity that he did not miss. With Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone successfully absorbing the explosion of wild-eyed overenthusiasm resulting from 2001's late autumn wealth of fantasy scores, Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring gracefully superceded the hype surrounding John Williams' highly anticipated score. It was only a matter of weeks before critics and fans alike realized that Shore's material for this first entry in the franchise was destined to be become a classic of modern film music, and the palpable anticipation of his own two sequel scores was immediate.

Shore's success with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and the subsequent two films had never been assumed, however. Whereas most composers take under a around month to write a score for a major picture, Shore cleared his schedule for an entire year in preparation for The Fellowship of the Ring (and he took the same amount of time for each sequel, too). There were several factors for the composer to concern himself with in his assembly of ideas for the score. Jackson's involvement of Shore in other areas of the production proved to the composer the scope of the endeavor, including the exotic, cultural reach of the film's visual constructs. More importantly, due to the extremely detailed nature of Tolkien's novels, Shore realized that he was dealing with a tale that required voices for countless different cultures and concepts, voices that often intermingled or outright merged over the course of the story. From this wealth of diversity in The Fellowship of the Ring and beyond, Shore created major themes and minor motifs for no less than 80 different concepts, none of which clearly stepping forward as the dominant identity of Tolkien's world as a whole. Rather, Shore constructed these themes with common figures and applied them in ways to suggest the tumultuous confluence of cultures in the melting pot of Middle-Earth in its entirety. The two greatest aspects of Shore's writing for all three scores are the composer's sense of conveying harmony almost exclusively to represent the bond of all the cultures in Middle-Earth and the extremely complicated connections between the various themes to central musical figures and phrases. The harmony is key because the scores for the trilogy never, even in their darkest, most frenzied measures, resort to sheer dissonance to frighten the listener, and, as such, the scores remain extremely attractive both in the film and especially on album. In this sense, Shore's technique for The Lord of the Rings is the exact opposite of Alex North's controversial and largely atonal approach to fantasy with Dragonslayer in the early 1980's. Only in two or three places in The Fellowship of the Ring does Shore utilize striking dissonant layers to solicit a fright response from the audience (the height of the chase in "Khazad-Dum" is among these few moments), allowing the score to resonate beautifully in each of its representations on screen.

While consistent harmony is key to the appeal of Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings in a general sense, the far more intriguing aspect of the works is the vast array of thematic representation and the sharing of common elements in those ideas. Shore uses, for instance, a rising three-note phrase to connect three of the most influential themes in The Fellowship of the Ring, subtly reminding audiences that there are connections at every level between the hobbits, the world of men, and the evil ring, among others. In some cases, as in the two themes for the fellowship of heroes and the villainous Isengard, Shore takes common phrases and inverts them for the two applications. The themes for Gollum and the ring itself share several progressions that help tie the two together as needed. Even underlying ostinatos are intertwined in the same method throughout the score. The attention that Shore closely paid to each phrase within a theme, the number of notes in those phrases, the antithesis of his progressions, and the merging of internal phrases from different themes to create a thematic cross-breed (as especially heard in the weaving of the four hobbit themes with the fellowship theme at the end of the first film) make the usual film score tactic of alternation between major and minor keys seem like a cheap trick (though there is some minimal use of that old, reliable technique as well). Beyond simply the structural considerations for each theme, Shore also changes the personality of each idea masterfully, depending on the guise needed for a particular scene in the film. Tempo alterations and the swapping or addition of notes to denote times of play or lament consistently keep each theme fresh to the ears. The instrumentation of each theme is equally important, itself serving as another layer of connectivity between cultures when they mix. Shore specifically utilized instruments appropriate to a world that existed more than five thousand years ago and charged these roughly 25 solo elements in providing most of the cultures with a sound so specific that they alone could carry the musical identity of an element in the story without the need for obvious thematic regurgitation. The ancient reed, pipe, string, and percussion contributions give The Lord of the Rings an invaluable sense of texture that few other modern scores attempt (and even fewer achieve successfully).

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Average: 4.3 Stars
***** 22,752 5 Stars
**** 8,565 4 Stars
*** 4,866 3 Stars
** 1,443 2 Stars
* 1,114 1 Stars
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LotR - Rarities Archive
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2001/2003 Regular and Limited Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 71:24
• 1. The Prophecy (3:54)
• 2. Concerning Hobbits (2:55)
• 3. The Shadow of the Past (3:33)
• 4. The Treason of Isengard (4:01)
• 5. The Black Rider (2:48)
• 6. At the Sign of the Prancing Pony (3:14)
• 7. A Knife in the Dark (3:34)
• 8. Flight to the Ford (4:15)
• 9. Many Meetings (3:05)
• 10. The Council of Elrond - performed by Enya (3:49)
• 11. The Ring Goes South (2:03)
• 12. A Journey in the Dark (4:20)
• 13. The Bridge of Khazad Dum (5:57)
• 14. Lothlorien (4:34)
• 15. The Great River (2:43)
• 16. Amon Hen (5:02)
• 17. The Breaking of the Fellowship (7:21)
• 18. "May It Be" - performed by Enya (4:16)
2005/2018 Complete Sets Tracks   ▼Total Time: 180:34
2010 Rarities Archive Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 79:13

Notes Icon
The original 2001 (regular) album's insert includes notes from director Peter Jackson and composer Howard Shore. Also featured are lyrics from each of the ensemble vocal segments from the score, as well as the Enya portions. A whopping two full pages of credits add to the clutter. No track times are provided on the packaging, adding even this fine point to the expansive woes of this album. Various useless goodies add to the cost of the 2001 limited album. The 2003 set includes general notes about the trilogy. The 2005 and 2018 complete sets feature a 45-page booklet with extraordinary notation about the music by Film Score Monthly regular Doug Adams. Those sets include extensive packaging extras, with the three regular audio CDs existing in a smaller case that can be stored separately from the massive book-like exterior.

A detailed, track-by-track analysis (a supplement to the notes on the complete 2005 set) was available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format for download from Warner Brothers at the following URL: It was not included in the product itself because of cost restrictions due to the booklet size and was available at that location for about five years before being removed.

There exists no actual packaging for the Howe Records album contained within the 2010 Adams book. It is initially difficult to extract the CD from its paper sleeve because they are glued tightly to the inside of the back cover.
Copyright © 2001-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring are Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2010, 2018, Reprise Records (Original and Limited), Reprise Records (Trilogy Set), Reprise Records (Complete Set), Howe Records (Rarities Archive), Rhino/Reprise Records (Re-issue Set) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/19/01 and last updated 8/30/20.
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