The reason I mention this in connection with the Star Wars scores is that I remember hoping that the "The Lord of the Rings" music would be like a modern version of the "Star Wars" scores, in a sense, delivering the same musical variety in particular with respect to the characters and their themes.
Well, whatever one thinks of it (I love it to pieces, obviously) I think could be at least fairly said that Howard Shore's score does have quite distinct and varied themes for different characters and groups. The Shire, the Riders of Rohan, Gondor, Sauron, Saruman, etc. all have their own leitmotifs.
The thing is I felt this never really came through in the films. It's hard for me to explain since, yes, obviously, all those themes are there. But for me, personally, they never came close to achieving that same effect that was achieved in the Star Wars scores where the music IMHO not only reflected how characters and places changed but also told part of that story itself.
I think part of the reason might be that, as I mentioned, I find a lot of the music in "The Lord of the Rings" to be rather generic. I suppose the best way I can put it is that I feel the themes from "Star Wars" are firmly based in the "Star Wars" universe whereas I perceive most of the themes in "The Lord of the Rings" to be firmly placed in Hollywood fantasy films.
I also realize now that in my perception you lose part of the story, part of the tale if you take away the "Star Wars" music. I don't have the same feeling towards "The Lord of the Rings" at all. Since it seems rather generic to me you could simply lift cues from other similar movies and it would work as well as it does now.
Just to underline this: This really is just my perception of it. I wished I enjoyed the "The Lord of the Rings" soundtracks more than I do. And I appreciate that many people really love them.