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Ancalagon the Black

Johan de Meij

After 30 years, composer Johan de Meij revisits Middle-Earth, the enchanting mythological world of J.R.R. Tolkien, with his Symphony No. 5 Return to Middle Earth. Although there are some thematic reminiscences of his monumental first symphony The Lord of the Rings from 1988, De Meij is putting a completely different musical vibe into this new symphony. There is an important role for a solo soprano and a mixed choir: they sing in Ilkorin, one of the Elvish languages ​​of Middle-Earth. The Orcs and other thugs also take the stage, but they only use raw screams in their own language, also known as 'black speech'.

Symphony No. 5 consists of six movements:

I) Miri na Fëanor (Jewels of Fëanor)
II) Tinúviel (Nightingale)
III) Ancalagon i-môr (Ancalagon, the Black)
IV) Arwen Undómiel (Evenstar)
V) Dagor Delothrin (The War of Wrath)
VI) Thuringwethil (Woman of Secret Shadow)

The symphony was commissioned by The Middle Earth Consortium Project, organized by the Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana (USA). The World Premiere took place November 3rd, 2018 with the composer conducting.

In 2019 several other important premieres were presented, respectively the Asian Premiere with Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra, conductor Johan de Meij,the European Premiere with Harmonie St. Michael Thorn, conductor Ivan Meylemans, and the German Premiere with Landesblasorchester Baden-Württemberg, conductor Björn Bus.

Explanation of the movement:

Ancalagon i-môr (Ancalagon the Black)

The greatest of Morgoth’s winged dragons, Ancalagon the Black was defeated in the War of Wrath by Eärendil the Mariner (husband of Elwing, Tinúviel’s granddaughter). Eärendil succeeded in sailing to the Undying Lands using the light of the Jewel of Fëanor, which his wife had inherited. He battled Ancalagon in the sky above Morgoth’s stronghold, and the fall of the dragon crushed the towers of Thangorodrim, punctuating Morgoth’s ultimate defeat.


Performance Notes


* The cello part is not optional, although there are cues in other instruments for important passages. 4 cellos minimum, and 2 string basses are recommended.

* There is an additional contrabass-clarinet part available, pretty much the same as the double bassoon. The part does not appear in the score or the set of parts. Order free pdf’s through the Amstel Music website (www.johandemeij.com)

Ancalagon i-môr (Ancalagon the Black)

* The effect in m. 42-43 a.o. in the saxes: try to imitate an ugly scream on just the mouthpiece (without the neck);

* At m. 229, the four Orc Drums are introduced – they play an important role in mvt. V. Use empty oil barrels with coarse wooden sticks or other mallets]. They should be placed in a half circle behind the orchestra, with the XL Bass Drum in the back-centre. For the soft passages, use a cloth or a towel, to dampen the sound.