Shore's Parting Shot
In case you still have doubts that Shore felt a deep and conscious debt to Wagner when composing this score:
Ever listen all the way through the credit roll at the end of Return of the King? Not many have, I suspect; it's over ten minutes long. I never had myself until my friend Scott Marley pointed out the little joke Shore provided for those who were willing to hang on until the end.
Here is how Shore chose to end his trilogy (I am not counting the fan club list that follows on the Extended Edition, as that was never part of the theatrical version):
Where have we heard this music before? In Shore's score, nowhere; this is completely new music. But we have heard it before nonetheless:
That is an excerpt from the ending of Die Walküre, the second opera in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. So we have Shore choosing at the end of this immense work to leave us with a wry little nod of thanks to Wagner as the last thing we hear.
(Actually, for those Wagnerites reading this, I hear in Shore's ending passage echoes of at least three Ring passages: the ending of Die Walküre as noted; the "Nature/Rhine" theme; and the "Rainbow Bridge" theme from the ending of Das Rheingold.)