Hi everyone! Our composer of the month for December is Howard Shore! I chose him because he's releasing a new soundtrack this month for "The Hobbit," for which I'm very, very, VERY excited. Also, I think his work on the Lord of the Rings (LOTR for short) series is astonishing. Even if you're not a fan of the movies, I think you must listen to the music. For most movies, there may be two or three main themes that crop up throughout, but because of the scale of LOTR, Shore had to compose dozens of themes. Each character or set of characters in the vast cinematic world of Middle Earth has their own specific melodies, and ALL of them are beautiful. In my opinion, not one is unoriginal or cliched. He also recorded over 10 hours of music with an orchestra and various vocal artists for the three films. To give you a perspective, most composers only give an hour per movie...that means he, with the help of his production team, wrote, scored, and recorded THREE TIMES the normal amount of music for each LOTR film. He also arranged songs in the original languages that J.R.R. Tolkien invented for his books, which is incredible because writing and arranging songs in normal English can be devilishly hard! I love his work on these films, and so I think he's worth learning about as a composer!
Howard Shore was born on October 18, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is cool for me because I'm Canadian via my Canadian father :) He studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and from 1969 to 1972, he played alto saxophone in a band called Lighthouse, which incorporated sounds from rock, classical, jazz, and swing styles to create their sound. Here's one of their popular songs-One Fine Morning. I like it! It's got a good rhythm :)
Shore was the musical director for Saturday Night Live from 1975 to 1980, and fun fact: he's the one who suggested the name "The Blues Brothers" to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi for their "band" on SNL. His first major film score was for director David Cronenberg's "The Brood" and like the Williams/Spielberg duo, Shore has since worked on all for Cronenberg's subsequent films except one. In 1991, he scored the Oscar winning film, "The Silence of the Lambs." He received his first set of award nominations for this score, although he did not win any awards-a more light-hearted film, Beauty and the Beast, swept most of the awards that year.
Shore's leap into the film music spotlight came with the Lord of the Rings scores in the early 2000s. He won three Oscars for his work on LOTR: two for Best Original Score-"The Fellowship of the Ring" and "Return of the King" and one for Best Original Song-"Into the West"-Return of the King. This set of scores is so popular that he actually tours and conducts orchestras playing the Lord of the Rings Symphony, like a composer rock star! (John Williams does this too for his music-their music is legendary!! ) Here's a link to various Youtube playlists that contain basically all his music from LOTR. I recommend just hitting play and letting the glorious music wash over you for 10 hours.
Since the success of LOTR, Shore has continued to write many other beautiful scores, which I think get overshadowed by LOTR. He wrote lovely music for "Doubt," starring Meryl Streep, my favorite actress. He also scored "The Aviator," "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," "A Dangerous Method," and "Hugo," all of which are lovely in their own right. He definitely has a style that's evident throughout his work. You hear it especially in comparing his work on "The Aviator," "A Dangerous Method" and LOTR. Classical and elegant is the best way to describe it. I think he's wonderful, and I can't wait for his Hobbit score, which brings me to the treat part of today's post...
Treat: We don't have to wait to listen to the "Hobbit" score because we can stream it online right now via Rolling Stone! Yay! Listen to it now! I'm going to wait to review it until next week after I've seen the movie, but I'll tell you that I got chills listening to the first track. Lord of the Rings, along with Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean, introduced to me to the wonder that is movie music, so Shore's LOTR themes hold a very special place in my heart.
Well, that's all I have for you this week! Next week, look forward to the Hobbit score review as well as some other movie music related topic yet to be determined! Comment below with your thoughts on Shore's music!