Der Herr der Ringe (1992 German radio series)

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Der Herr der Ringe (German: The Lord of the Rings) was a German radio series based on The Lord of the Rings which first aired in a single series (season) in 1992, for a total of 30 episodes on German public radio. This radio series with a full cast of characters was a co-production between public radio broadcasters SWR (Südwestrundfunk) and WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), first aired from January to April 1992. On a legal level, the adaptation was fully approved by the Tolkien Estate.

The series was written and adapted for radio by experienced radio playwright Peter Steinbach and directed by Bernd Lau. The soundtrack for the series was composed by Peter Zwetkoff. The Der Herr der Ringe radio series consisted of thirty episodes of roughly 25 minutes each. The series first aired from January to April 1992, with the première of the first episode on 3 January 1992, on J.R.R. Tolkien's 100th birthday.[1] [2]

Average ratings for the première broadcast between January and April 1992 achieved above-average ratings of 100,000 listeners per episode.


The series aired in a single series (season) of thirty episodes, from January to April 1992.

  1. Ein festlicher Abschied ("A Festive Farewell")
  2. Der Ring bleibt bei Frodo ("The Ring Stays with Frodo")
  3. Der Feind regt sich ("The Enemy Is Moving")
  4. Hinaus in die Welt ("Into the Wide World")
  5. Eine nacht unter Elben ("A Night Among the Elves")
  6. Verschwörung der Freunde ("A Conspiracy of Friends")
  7. Süsse Gastfreundschaft ("Sweet Hospitality")
  8. Ein Waldläufer kommt ins Spiel ("A Ranger Enters")
  9. Der Feind greift an ("The Enemy Attacks")
  10. Der Rat Elronds ("Elrond's Council")
  11. In die Tiefen der Welt ("Into the Depths of the World")
  12. Durins Zeiten ("Durin's Times")
  13. Im Herzen des alten Reiches ("In the Heart of the Old Realm")
  14. Frodos Entscheidung ("Frodo's Decision")
  15. Die Gemeinschaft zerbricht ("The Breaking ot the Fellowship")
  16. Mit Horn und Trommeln ("With Horn and Drums")
  17. Neue Ziele ("New Goals")
  18. Ein Heer bricht auf ("An Army Breaks Forth")
  19. Kampf um die Hornburg ("Battle of the Hornburg")
  20. Nach Isengart ("To Isengard")
  21. Sarumans Stimme ("Saruman's Voice")
  22. Eine Falle für alle Hobbits ("A Trap for All Hobbits")
  23. Der Feind vor der Stadt ("The Enemy Before the City")
  24. Zum Tor der Toten ("To the Gate of the Dead")
  25. Die Verbündeten sammeln sich ("The Allies Gather")
  26. Feuer in der Stadt ("Fire in the City")
  27. Der Tod des Königs ("The Death of the King")
  28. Ein Köder für Mordor ("Bait for Mordor")
  29. Am Schicksalsberg ("On Mount Doom")
  30. Zu guter Letzt ("All's Well that Ends Well")


The series follows the storyline of The Lord of the Rings very closely and in a very faithful manner. Notably, this is one of the few adaptations of the novel in a different medium - be it radio or film - that omits very little of the original storyline, preserving even many of the minor and frequently omitted characters.

The events set after the War of the Ring are somewhat abbreviated, particularly the Grey Havens and Frodo's, Bilbo's and Gandalf's departure from Middle-earth).

Minor characters adapted from the novel include Gildor, Tom Bombadil, Goldberry, Daddy Twofoot, Farmer Maggot, Háma and Imrahil.


Role Actor
Narrator Ernst Schröder
Frodo Baggins Matthias Haase
Gandalf Manfred Steffen
Aragorn Hans-Peter Hallwachs
Samwise Gamgee Edgar Hoppe
Galadriel Gustl Halenke
Gimli Walter Renneisen
Peregrin Took Rufus Beck
Meriadoc Brandybuck Tobias Lelle
Legolas Matthias Ponnier
Elrond Peter Lieck
Haldir Gunther Cremer
Boromir Christian Redl
Bilbo Baggins Klaus Herm
Saruman Manfred Steffen
Tom Bombadil Peter Ehrlich
Farmer Maggot Günter Kasch
Old Noakes Wolfgang Laugwitz
Gríma Wormtongue Karl Lieffen
Éomer Rainer Schmitt
Denethor Heinz Schimmelpfenig
Éowyn Donata Höffer
Faramir Friedhelm Ptok
Háma Dieter Eppler
Treebeard Friedrich Schütter
Witch-king of Angmar Christian Mey
Celeborn Wolfgang Hinze
Théoden Werner Rundshagen
Gollum Dietmar Mues
Gaffer Gamgee Wolfgang Reinsch
Ted Sandyman Jochen Stern
The Mouth of Sauron Peter Gawajda
Goldberry Donata Höffer
Glorfindel Stefan Schwartz
Imrahil Gert Andresen
Beregond Klaus Spürkel
Glóin Heinz Meier
Gildor Charles Wirths
Daddy Twofoot Hans Edgar Stecher
Other roles Helen Elcka
Ingrid Adé
Jan-Paul Biczycki
Hans-Peter Bögel
et al

The series uses an abstract overarching narrator, similar to the approach of the 1980 German radio adaptation of The Hobbit and the 1981 British radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.

Manfred Steffen has a double role as Gandalf and Saruman.

Donata Höffer voices both Éowyn and Goldberry.

The series has one of the largest casts of unique actors of any Tolkien radio adaptation to date, possibly even still holding the record. The series utilised a cast of 60 actors and actresses in main character roles and 36 actors and actresses in supporting character roles.


  • Based on the works by: J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Written and adapted by: Peter Steinbach
  • Directed by: Bernd Lau
  • Music: Peter Zwetkoff (composer), Kammersprechchor Zürich (choir, vocals and songs)
  • Sound engineers: Roland Seiler, Udo Schuster
  • Recording director: Johannes Hertel
  • Editing: Christiane Köhler, Regina Kraus, Regine Schneider
  • Produced by: Südwestrundfunk (SWR) / Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)


The series' total runtime of twelve and a half hours were recorded in three recording studios in parallel, using the direct cut method on a computer. This radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings therefore became Germany's first digital radio play.

The overall production costs for the radio series amounted to nearly 500.000 € in today's currency. [3]


The music for the series was composed by Peter Zwetkoff. [4] It has an emphasis on traditional and orchestral instrumentation.


To date, there are two published book translations of The Lord of the Rings into German. The first, 1969-1970 translation by Margaret Carroux, Der Herr der Ringe ("The Lord of the Rings"), and the second, 2000 translation by Wolfgang Krege, equally titled Der Herr der Ringe.

Due to the year the Der Herr der Ringe radio series was produced in, it used the terminology and excerpts from the earlier and longer established translation by Carroux. [5]

Though the German radio series has been praised for its handling of the source material and the translated terminology, it has also received some degree of criticism in German Tolkien fan circles, for sometimes ignoring the correct pronunciation of some place-names and personal names in Tolkien's constructed languages. [6]


To date, this radio series has been commercially released on home media and for digital purchase by several publishers. The series was first published in 1992, after its first broadcast, by audio drama and audiobook publisher Cotta’s Hörbühne on 15 audio cassettes (in the Normal Edition) and 9 audio cassettes (in the Special Edition). In 1993, Cotta’s Hörbühne followed up the cassette release with publishing another home media edition on 10 CDs. This was one of their last major releases, as the publisher was disbanded by its parent company in 1993. [7] Subsequent re-releases of the series on home media since 1993 have been handled by audio drama and audiobook publisher Der Hörverlag, with their re-releases of the series published on 11 CDs. [8] In more recent years, the series has also been made available for digital purchase and download at The series has a total runtime of 756 minutes. [9]


  1. Most of the information in this article are translated from the article on Ardapedia, the German-language Tolkien wiki affiliated with Tolkien Gateway. Retrieved on 4 June 2021.
  2. German-language article on the Der Herr der Ringe radio series. Dated 10 August 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2021. Archived via the WaybackMachine of
  3. Peter Eckhart Reichel:'Hörbücher produzieren: Von der Idee zur fertigen Audioproduktion, Berlin 2013, Section: Was kostest eine Hörbuchproduktion?.
  4. Peter Zwetkoff article at the German-language Wikipedia. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  5. Elrond's - Published German translations of Tolkien's works (not entirely up to date). Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  6. Review of the Der Herr der Ringe radio series at Dated 15 August 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  7. Cotta’s Hörbühne article at the German Wikipedia. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  8. Der Hörverlag article at the German Wikipedia. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  9. The home media releases of the Der Herr der Ringe radio series can be found under the ISBN codes ISBN 3-89584-963-4 / ISBN 3-89940-265-0.

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