DB: Have you ever thought of finding Liszt and Beethoven works that
well with Tolkien? The more dramatic parts of "Les Preludes" would make
arresting accompaniment to some of Tolkien's more exciting scenes, even
it's a bit more "formal" than what passes for movie music these days.
the finale of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony sound like good
music to you?
JH: Good suggestions. Les Preludes? Why not. The idea of the
"fantastic" is not without possibilities regarding Franz Liszt. The
closest he ever got to the world of "Fairie" was in the concert etude
"Gnomenreigen," though to be sure, the Germanic notion of "Gnomes" was
probably different than what Tolkien wanted. I have often thought that
his monumental B minor Piano Sonata might be a good match with the
psychology of the power of the Ring. Beethoven 7th? It's one of my
favorite symphonies. My father took me to a symphony concert when I was
in the 2nd grade and that was on the program. I fell in love with it
and subsequently wore my father's LP of Bruno Walter and the Columbia
Symphony down to the grooves. My favorite modern performance is Carlos
Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic. It is truly a spectacular
DB: Watch out for the phenomenon that many professors have found, of
who write papers based on the movies, and not on the book they were
supposed to have read.
JH: Thanks for the warning. Actually, that was one of the first items
I took up on the first day of class. "If you rely on the Jackson movies
to keep up with the plot and character development, you won't pass this
course. You MUST read every word of the text during the course of the
semester." I've structured the discussion time in such a manner that if
they haven't done the assigned reading it will be very apparent, and
part of their semester grade is based on their participation in class.
One thing that I learned almost immediately, is that movies are the
preferred vehicles for story telling with this generation, not books.
When we discussed the idea of the "numinous" and the "wonder" of myth,
legend, and fairy tale that drew Tolkien's heart out, I asked the
students if they had ever experienced that. Their responses were
telling, for they all cited movie examples, not books. So for some of
these children, reading a 1000-page piece of literature is a brand new
experience. One student has a reading disability and was quite
concerned about how he was going to manage the 1000 pages. I suggested
Rob Inglis' book on CD. He checked it out of the library and followed
along in the text, and was one of the main participants in our first
discussion session. I am simply like a kid in a candy shop on this one.
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