Sibelius of the Rings

My frame of mind for the day is largely determined by what is playing on BBC Radio 3 when it switches on at 6am as it does every morning to wake me up. This morning it happened to be the rousing Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite by Jean Sibelius. An intermezzo is very often a piece of fairly nondescript music played while people change the sets on stage during an opera or theatre performance, but this one is actually a terrific piece in its own right.

Often when the radio switches on when I’m asleep I don’t actually wake up immediately, but somehow seem to be able to incorporate the music into a dream. As I slowly emergedfrom my slumbers this morning my half-asleep mind somehow put this music together with a sort of action replay of the Ride of the Rohirrim, as Theoden’s army arrives to relieve the siege of Minas Tirith from The Lord of the Rings; the preamble fits well with the riders and horses gathering into line and preparing for battle, and the main theme conjures up the subsequent cavalry charge in rousing fashion.

My lunchtime task today has therefore been to find a clip of the film on Youtube and see how the music works. I suggest you turn the sound off the film clip (first youtube link) and let it run until about 58s in before starting the second which has the actual music on it. That way the peak of the crescendo and loud cymbal crash in Sibelius’ score coincides with the impact of the charge upon the orc formation.

5 Responses to “Sibelius of the Rings”

  1. great fun. thanks for sharing.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    “…as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.”

    We read that passage in an English lesson at school, well before I read LotR. A few paragraphs before it was the deployment by Sauron’s forces of the battering ram Grond. In the cinema version there was chanting of “Grond” but no explanation, which must have mystified viewers who had not read the book, and I wonder if its name was stated in the extended DVD version.

    My favourite scene in the film trilogy (not my favourite part of the book) was the passage of the Mines of Moria in the first film, not least because of the chanting in the accompanying music, which was most effective.

  3. Bryn Jones Says:

    I recall falling asleep one night without switching the radio off. Sibelius’s magnificent Fifth Symphony started playing in the early hours, and immediately I woke up. I couldn’t bring myself to turning it off, so spent half an hour listening to it, then suffered hours of insomnia.

    • telescoper Says:

      At 6am when my radio comes on I get the last 30 mins of Through the Night before the Breakfast show starts. The Breakfast show has much more chat and only plays short pieces of music, in contrast to the night show which often plays entire symphonic works with minimal talk in between. No prizes for guessing which I prefer!

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        Through the Night plays an unusual mixture of music, with many pieces from lesser-known composers alongside the standard classical repertoire. It uses concerts from a number of countries which are assembled, I understand, by Radio 3 for broadcast to those countries, which use their own versions of the continuity announcements. It therefore includes a wide range of national composers whose music is seldom played in western Europe.

        The programme provides a very interesting addition to the Radio 3 schedules. It’s a pity it’s broadcast overnight, although it must be available online for later listening. I have at times recorded broadcasts (automatically) to listen to during normal hours.

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