Howard Shore: ‘I write film music in a 19th-century world. I live in a forest’

Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore has revealed how he continues to write some of the most inspiring music around in an exclusive interview to mark his fifth successive victory in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame.

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Oscar-winner Shore won the annual Classic FM listeners' poll with his music for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

Asked if he considers film music to be a type of classical music, he said it is an art form of its own that can be approached on its own terms.

"It's not the same as writing purely concert music," the composer told John Brunning in an interview. 

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But there have been many great composers who have "written incredible pieces and also worked in film", Shore says.

The Canadian-born composer might have included himself among those composers. As well as completing work on Peter Jackson's third instalment of The Hobbit, Shore has recently written a number of concertos, including one for cello and one for piano, and a song cycle. 

With so much work on his plate, Shore maintains a rigorous working schedule which includes daily composition.

"I write music every day and I have been doing that since I was a youngster," Shore says of his routine of composing with a pencil on paper.

"It doesn't feel like a day to me unless that pencil is moving on those pages and ideas are being formed."

Howard Shore on composing

Shore says he has to be in a "place of beauty" to compose. "The world that I write in is very 19th Century and very green. I live in a forest. The connection to nature is very important to me. And I think that was also the connection to Tolkien’s work. I know how important that was to Tolkien and his writing: everything that was green and good."

Asked which of his own scores he likes the most, Shore chooses his work on films set between the period of silent movies and 'talkies', in particular two Martin Scorsese pictures, Hugo and The Aviator. He also favours his scores for two 1950s-set movies, Ed Wood and Naked Lunch , and The Fly .  

"I do really like working in different periods," he explains. "That also reflects my work with Tolkien, as well."


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