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Lord of the Strings: Violin used in Tolkien movie trilogy to be auctioned

Dermot Crehan played the Hardanger violin in the Lord of the Rings films.

Rod Minchin
Sunday 20 November 2022 09:28 GMT
Christopher Lee as the evil Saruman in The Lord of the Rings (European Press Agency/PA)
Christopher Lee as the evil Saruman in The Lord of the Rings (European Press Agency/PA) (PA Media)

The violin that called Tolkien’s hobbits to their quest and sounded the defence of Rohan against an orc army is to be auctioned next month.

Owned and played by former All-Ireland champion fiddle player Dermot Crehan, the Hardanger violin featured prominently in the music of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Used throughout the scores of all three films, it can be heard particularly clearly 30 seconds into Concerning Hobbits, the second track of the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring.

The fiddle is expected to fetch between £3,000 and £6,000 when auctioned by Gardiner Houlgate auctioneers in Corsham, Wiltshire on December 9.

Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore asked Mr Crehan to play a Norwegian Hardanger violin, now nicknamed the Rohan Fiddle, for the score because of its plaintive and haunting sound.

Mr Crehan, 68, said: “The fiddle’s basically been under my bed since before Covid.

“I’ve done a little bit of work with it but I’ve basically semi-retired and would love the fiddle to be passed on to someone who’ll use it.

“The best thing for a violin is not to be under the bed, but under someone’s chin.”

Talking about his involvement in the Lord of the Rings films, Mr Crehan said: “Working on Lord of the Rings was one of the high points of my career. It was a five-year collaboration and was very creative.

“When the project first came round, Howard Shore asked me to record some music inspired by the word hobbits.

“I sent him a demo recording of some traditional Irish music, which he loved. After all, there’s not much difference between leprechauns and hobbits.

“Howard didn’t want to use an Irish instrument, so asked me to get a Hardanger violin from Norway to give the music a different feel.”

Jamie South, the auctioneer who will sell the fiddle, said: “This is an instrument with a unique story. The Lord of the Rings films and book inspire huge interest among collectors and fans, so we’re anticipating interest from around the world.”

The Lord of the Rings soundtrack was recorded at EMI’s Abbey Road studio in London and Watford Colosseum. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King both won Oscars for best original score.

Originally from Dublin, Mr Crehan now lives in London. He was named All-Ireland Champion Fiddle Player for three consecutive years and Fiddle Player of London.

He was a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and was co-principal second violin with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for 12 years.

He has also worked on numerous film and television scores including two Harry Potter films, Legends of the Fall, Patriot Games, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Cold Feet, Downton Abbey and Shetland. He has recorded with Elton John, Sting, Robbie Williams and Westlife among others.

Hardanger violins are a traditional Norwegian instrument with a headstock that usually terminates in carved animal or a carved woman’s head. The body of the instrument is heavily decorated.

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