If there has been any name synonymous with movie soundtracks, it was Ennio Morricone. The Oscar-winning film composer who scored more than 500 films, died on Monday in Rome. He was 91. Morricone’s lawyer, Giorgio Assumma, confirmed his death. He shared that Ennio had died of complications from a fall last week that fractured his leg.
Morricone is best known for his infamous melodies from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West, and The Mission. In 2016 he won the Oscar for best original score for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. He had received 5 previous nominations and an Honorary Award in 2007 that recognized his lifetime’s achievement.
The Italian composer was awarded with many accolades including 2 Golden Globes, 4 Grammy’s, and dozens of other international awards. Such as 11 David di Donatello Awards, which are Italy’s highest film honors.
Some of his best-known scores included the political drama The Battle of Algiers, Brian de Palma’s take on 1930’s gangsters, The Untouchables, and Cinema Paradiso.
Ennio was born in Rome, one of 5 children of Mario Morricone, a musician. His father taught him to read music and play various instruments before he began writing music at age 6.
Later in life, he attended the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, where he studied trumpet, composition, and direction under Goffredo Petrassi, a major Italian composer. He mad expertly mastered compositional skills and had a thorough knowledge of the classical tradition. however he found it difficult to earn enough money writing original pieces. While there, Morricone composed music for radio dramas and played in an orchestra that specialized in music written for films. His first film credit was recognized as Luciano Salce’s 1961 title, The Fascist.
In 1956 he married Maria Travia and they welcomed four children together: Marco, Alessandra, Andrea, and Giovanni.
His relationship with Hollywood
Morricone always kept his distance from Hollywood and made a point of remaining in his native Italy, even politely refusing to learn English. “You can see my decision as either a distinctive factor or as a limitation,” he commented. “I don’t feel it is a limitation.” Part of the reason was that, everyone knew him for his spaghetti westerns with Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood. Morricone always viewed himself as a composer for whom film work was only a part of his career.
At his live performances, he would include some of his concert pieces alongside selections from his film music. “As I am very old, people should know all the kinds of music that I write,” he observed. “Some people believe that I just write film scores, which is not true.”
His music has been sampled by Jay-Z and the Orb. His themes have been used to introduce concerts by Metallica, the Ramones and the Mars Volta among many others.
Tarantino and Morricone
Perhaps inevitably, Morricone was a favorite of Tarantino, an aficionado of spaghetti westerns and European cinema. Tarantino included extracts from Morricone’s work in Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2, in Death Proof, and in Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino’s Django Unchained contained Morricone’s newly composed song Ancora Qui alongside 3 of his existing compositions.
In 2013, Morricone presented Tarantino with a lifetime achievement award from the Rome film festival. Ennio declared he would not work with Tarantino again after being unhappy with the way his music was used in Django Unchained. However, he composed, orchestrated and conducted the score for The Hateful Eight, for which he won an Oscar.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte paid tribute to Morricone on Twitter. “We will always remember, with infinite gratitude, the artistic genius of the Maestro #EnnioMorricone. It made us dream, emotion, reflect, writing memorable notes that will remain indelible in the history of music and cinema.”
Italian President, Sergio Mattarella also shared his thoughts on the passing of the “distinguished and brilliant” artist, writing in a statement, “he left a profound mark on the musical history of the late twentieth century.”
Antonio Banderas, Edgar Wright and Kamal Haasan are some celebrities who paid their respects to the legendary Italian composer.
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