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Ennio Morricone

November 10, 1928 -
born in Rome, Italy, composed during the Contemporary period
A European who came to dominate the scoring of westerns, Ennio Morricone is a unique figure in the history of film music.

Morricone was born in Rome, the son of a jazz trumpet player, in 1928. He was a precocious musician, starting to compose at the age of six, and studied harmony and composition at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory. Post-war Italy didn't offer many opportunities for a serious composer, and Morricone worked in various jazz bands, as well as serving as a staff composer, arranger, and conductor on Italian radio and television. During the late 1950's, he landed a job as orchestrator and assistant to Nascio Nascimbene, then the leading composer in the Italian movie industry. Morricone began writing film scores in the early 1960's, but he first distinguished himself in the western field.

When U.S. studios' production of westerns slowed in the early 1960s, Italian (and Spanish) filmmakers stepped in to fill the gap, for the genre had lost none of its luster internationally. Morricone proved adept at writing memorable melodies with his first western, the Spanish-made Gringo, in 1963. His heavy style at that point emphasized the lower registers of the orchestra--cellos, basses, and brass--and often featured an orchestral "growl," a low dissonance that had been a favorite device of Dimitri Tiomkin. The song "A Gringo Like Me" closely followed the dramatic-pop western themes ("Gunfight At the O.K. Corral," "Rawhide") that Tiomkin had been writing for years with Frankie Laine in mind, with an added veneer of pseudo-operatic passion. InMorricone's second western score, Guns Don't Argue, he first hit on a distinctive style: the music emphasized melody more than beat, and had moments of flowing lyricism; it also introduced whistling and featured fairly prominent use of a guitar. That same year, Morricone was commissioned to write the music for A Fistful of Dollars, an Italian-made western by director Sergio Leone, based on Akira Kurosawa's samurai movie Yojimbo and starring Clint Eastwood.

This film, with its emphasis on violence, revenge, and duplicity and its minimal reliance on dialogue, was a new kind of western; it was hugely popular in both Europe and the U.S. Morricone's score featured whistling, flutes, electric guitars, jew's harp, and wordless choruses (and occasional choral grunts), along with the usual complement of strings, brass, and percussion, all hooked around haunting melodies. Two sequels followed, For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966), each directed by Leone, starring Eastwood, and featuring Morricone's music. The latter was particularly bold, featuring choirs in sweeping, wordless flourishes, closer to Wagner than Delius but with Puccini-like lyricism, depicting the action and emotional content of the script.

Westerns comprised only a tiny part of Morricone's output, but they created a lasting demand for his work. He scored as many as eight or nine movies in a year, from offbeat westerns such as Two Mules For Sister Sara to modern crime dramas like Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, from controversial experiments like Pasolini's Salo to mainstream efforts like Brian DePalma's The Untouchables. Since the mid-1960's, Morricone's work has appeared in as many as 250 movies. He's received Academy Award nominations for his music in Terence Mallick's Days of Heaven (1978) and Roland Joffe's The Mission (1986). In the 1980's, his music received long-delayed recognition from outside the film music community when New York-based avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn used it as the basis for performances and recordings by jazz chamber ensemble, doing for Morricone what Miles Davis had previously done for Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, and Victor Young, among others. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Title: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score
x

Track List: The Legendary Italian Westerns: The Film Composers Series, Vol. 2

Title: The Legendary Italian Westerns

Comments

Yo-Yo Ma~ thinking of if I stay
garicksr6
This is from the movie untouchables to! Great piece!
Absolutely wonderful
Wonderful.
The Great Ennio Morricone. A true legend and hero of the human race. Thank you for sharing your gift, Ennio!
Sleepy Time
"When you say Taco, say Viva, if you feel lucky, Punk. Well do ya Punk? Do ya?
Great movie I have it
Yo-Yo Ma is great!
These three guys are amazing,i had the chance to meet them in person, their voices are amazing,i love IL VOLO
As a boy westerns then I saw Conan. Great composer really great. Don't see that enough today.
jennifer.het h
Listen to the musette he did with Robert Mcfarrin . So funny .
lukeskinner9 3
Amazing
Loved his work in "Memoirs of a Geshia" fell in love with his music!
this arrangement is pure grace, laced with the solar winds and the light of the stars.
surferchic93 8 7
Love it!
davidn411
in the other room. heard this and i said to myself damm, bach wrote the soundtrack for 'once upon a time america'? he's cooler than i thought
idelo
Amazing
So beautiful
I could listen to this music forever!
ignacio_rios 1 2 3
Wow...wow... At first I was omg it's so amazing
godslittlepr i n c e s s 2
Wow love this song great composer! :)
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Say awesome if u luv composed music! Awesome!:)
blademaster3 4 0 2
Truly iconic
Epic!
WHOA i love this, this is so AWESOME :D HOORAY :D :D :D
his music and Yo-Yo Ma's interpretati o n are beautiful... I am in love with it.
nicegirlreal l y 7 8 9
The first time I became aware of the name Ennio Morricone was when "Lloyd George" was on TV in the UK with "Chi Mai" as the theme music. It wasn't until later that I realized he was behind so much of the film music in all those westerns. Then came "The Untouchables " - the score still sends chills through me. But the sound of that harmonica in "Once Upon A Time In The West" and the orchestral sound that goes with it has to be some of the most stirring music in all of moviedom.
ENNIO is platinum sound
mesmerizing .....
paul_drago
perfection
It just doesn't get better than this.
The classic masterpiece that got me totally hung up on this guy was "Once Upon A Time In The West".
He is one of the very few that I could listen to for hours on end.
One word... Beautiful.
All His music is memorable, deep, beautiful
I love this piece. It puts me in a trance every time I hear it:)
Ennio Morricone was perhaps the first film composer that captivated me when I was just a young boy. I had the "dollars trilogy" soundtracks and listened to them endlessly. The music still captivates me.
I have loved his work for years. An Italian who captures the passion in every note with his heart. Grazie tanto!
aultcruzpl
So beautiful... .
One of my favorite films is Once Upon a Time in the West. I love all his music!
fabya4
captivating, passionate, and deep. unbelievable . I love it!
Wow - the combination of Yo-Yo Ma and Ennio Morricone - we are talking chill bumps.
brittonbell
what's not to love about his music?
I love his music, most of it. It's very relacking and thought-prov o k i n g at the same time. I never tire of listening to it.
My favorite score from this musical giant is The Mission.
My favorite score by Morricone is Cinema Paradiso...H i s pieces are so lush and sensuous...
ronron4me
Where is the soundtrack from The Legend of 1900? What an amazing piece of work!
forest_roy
Perfection!! !
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