February 28, 2001
Composer of the Rings
After a few months into the production, there was only one important remaining question regarding the film crew. Who would be the composer?
The first man rumored to be up for the position was Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stokers Dracula, Portrait of a Lady, The Ninth Gate). At one point it looked almost certain that the Polish composer would be the one. After that point of certainty, rumors began to fly that New Line executives were looking to get James Horner (Braveheart, Titanic, and approximately 100 other films) to work his cut-and-paste dramatic score magic.
Then, out of nowhere, it seemed that the composer would be one Howard Shore. It was not long before it was confirmed by Shores own mouth: "Yes, I am doing Lord of the Rings." It was a simple declarative statement. Howard likely made it without the foggiest idea that those eight little words held serious import with thousands of Tolkien fanatics around the world.
Now the scene has been set, and we have come in full circle to the question, "Who is Howard Shore?"
He is the Composer of the Rings. He has been given a duty that could either catapult him into cinematic music history or sink him into infamy. He is important to the success of the film, for it is often the score and sometimes the score alone that portrays the emotional resonance of a film. What would Chariots of Fire be without its music? What would Ladyhawke be with better music? How would the rest of the movie be illumined if Celine Dion crooned a little pop ditty at the end of Blade Runner? The possibilities and the terrors are endless.
Can Howard Shore deliver a score worthy of what could be the film event of the next three years?
That is yet another question that can not truly be answered until December 2001. However, permit me the indulgence of believing that my opinion matters, and let me say, "Yes, I think he can."
Howard Leslie Shore was born on October 18, 1946 in Toronto, Canada. In the early 70s, Howard was a member of the horn section in a Canadian band called "Lighthouse," a jazzy pop-rock ensemble that bore a passing resemblance to the likes of Chicago. From 1975 to 1980, Shore was musical director for NBCs Saturday Night Live. Yes, he was the man who wrote the SNL musical theme (in 1993 he wrote the main title theme for Late Night with Conan OBrien). Do not be troubled just yet. Howard Shore HAS composed film scores.
In 1978 Shore wrote the score to a small Canadian horror film called I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses. This led to his scoring David Cronenbergs The Brood in 1979, and Shore quickly became the directors composer of choice. Videodrome, Scanners, The Fly, Naked Lunch, Crash, and eXistenZ were all twisted and unique cinematic pieces of Cronenberg's imagination, and all of them had Howard Shore scores. Howard was nominated three times for the "Best Music Score" Genie Award (Canadas equivalent of an Oscar): one nomination for The Brood, another for Naked Lunch, and an actual win for the work he did on Dead Ringers, Cronenbergs acclaimed 1988 film starring Jeremy Irons. Mr. Shore also wrote the score for the 2000 film short Camera; yes, it is another David Cronenberg effort. Clearly, Shores music is appreciated by at least a few individuals.
There are others.