Howard Shore’s fantastical music to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ voted No.1 in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame

Howard Shore’s iconic and ethereal score to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy has been voted No.1 in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame 2023, as revealed by presenter Jonathan Ross on Monday 28 August.

Shore’s music to the film adaptations of JRR Tolkien’s beloved trilogy beat out tough competition from John Williams Schindler’s List, which topped the previous chart in 2020.

The Top 100 countdown kicked off with Aled Jones at 9am, featuring Alan Menken’s music for The Little Mermaid at No.100, following the release of the live action movie earlier this year. Margherita Taylor kept the countdown going from midday, before passing the baton to film fanatic and Saturday Night at the Movies presenter Jonathan Ross for the grand finale.

The first instalment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, premiered in 2001, with Shore’s music immediately capturing the hearts and minds of Middle-earth fans around the globe. With more than 80 different themes and motifs, Shore’s soundtrack secures its place as one of the most epic scores ever written, as intricately detailed and thoughtfully constructed as Tolkien’s thorough world-building.

Over the course of two further films, The Two Towers in 2002 and The Return of the King in 2003, Shore’s music only grew its loyal and devoted fanbase, augmented further by the use of his theme in the TV series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, with its first season premiering in September 2022.

On hearing the news of his win, composer Howard 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.”

Saturday Night at the Movies presenter Jonathan Ross, who announced the No.1 just before 7pm on air, added: “I’m so thrilled to see The Lord of the Rings make it to No.1 in this incredible celebration of history’s greatest film scores.

“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.”

With over 10,000 votes entered in this year’s chart, 2023 was also a good year for John Williams, who retains his title as the most popular film composer with five entries in the Top 20 alone, including his music for the Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter franchises.

Hans Zimmer is another composer featuring prominently in the chart, with his music for Gladiator reaching No.5, and his soundtracks for Interstellar and The Lion King also in the Top 25.

This year also saw some of the most exciting women composers in the industry today take their places in the chart. Germaine Franco makes her debut in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame at No.59 with her soundtrack to Disney’s Encanto, and Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir maintains her presence in the chart with her Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning Joker score at No.83.

Classic FM’s composer in residence, Debbie Wiseman, reached No.6 with her score to Wilde, with Rachel Portman’s Chocolat at No.62 and Angela Morley’s Watership Down at No.55.

Find the full Top 100 in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame here, and the Top 20 below:

  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 Jarr
  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 Badelt


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