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The Gondorian soldiers have retreated to the upper level of Minas Tirith, where a Mountain Troll beats its great leaden hammer upon the final door. The men have nowhere left to go. Pippin is fearful of death and tells Gandalf, “I didn’t think it would end this way.” Gandalf, unwavering in the face of danger, quietly regards him. “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here.” At this, the apparent hour of Mankind’s doom, Shore introduces one of the most important musical themes in The Lord of the Rings, the theme of the Grey Havens.

The cellists of the London Philharmonic embrace this diatonic melody in the most singing ranges of their instruments. Cor anglais and clarinet offer humble counterlines and full strings harmonize with placid, non-vibrato chords. Gandalf tells Pippin of the next world that awaits—the reward for a life lived honorably.

The door shakes again and the Grey Havens theme fades, replaced by a stepwise cluster. Gandalf nods to Pippin. Their time has come.

On the Pelennor, the tide has turned. The Mûmakil toss the Rohirrim about like playthings. And, from the sky, Théoden sees a shadow approach. Horns build as the Witch-king’s fell beast clutches Théoden and Snowmane, his horse, in its jaws and spits them back to the earth. Théoden gasps for air, pinned beneath Snowmane. The Lord of the Nazgûl approaches.

The film uses a different first performance on the Grey Havens theme, which features humming voices. This music was edited in from the music wrote for the film’s concluding chapters.

© The Annotated Score (The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films)

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