Matt Barry of Soundtrack.net has posted an exclusive “first listen” to the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, including 30-second clips from each track. While there are spoilers there for those unfamiliar with the books, I urge those unafraid to read his comments regarding these cues: he explains the subtleties and nuances of the music quite well.
I firmly believe that Howard Shore’s work on these scores is among the finest I’ve ever heard, with themes capable of standing on their own merits, even outside the realm of film scores. I could easily see a symphonic work developed from these motifs and cues, a work which could be performed outside of it’s filmic context. Rumors abound that Shore has such a work planned; I hope those rumors come true.
If you are interested in this kind of thing, the site also includes similar essays on the first two installments, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. And if you haven’t heard the soundtracks, do yourself a favor and get them!