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Francesco De Masi

Composer Francesco De Masi, who scored well over 200 motion pictures during his career in the film industry, was born in Rome on January 11, 1930. De Masi's father was active in politics and served as Italy's ambassador to Romania, but De Masi showed a talent for music in his youth, and as a teenager he studied composition at San Pietro a Maiella in Naples under Achille Lango, who was also his uncle. When Lango was contracted to write music for a motion picture, he hired De Masi to serve as his assistant while working on the project, and the young man became fascinated with the process of making music for the movies. After completing his studies, De Masi moved to Rome to pursue a career in the cinema, and in 1951 he wrote his first film score for a documentary entitled Fiat Panis. De Masi wrote and arranged music primarily for documentaries during his early career, but in the '60s and '70s he became known for scoring Westerns during the height of the "spaghetti Western" boom, including such cult favorites as Il Pistolero di Arizona (aka Arizona Colt), Ammazzali Tutti e Toma Solo (aka Kill Them All and Come Back Alone), and C'e Sartana...Vendi la Pistola e Comprati la Bara (aka Sartana's Coming, Get Your Coffins Ready). However, De Masi's repertoire represented an eclectic variety of horror films (Orgia de los Muertos, aka Terror of the Living Dead), wartime dramas (Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato, aka The Inglorious B**tards), crime thrillers (I Familiari delle Vittime Non Saranno Avvertiti, aka Crime Boss), "sword and sandal" epics (Ercole l'Invincibile, aka Hercules the Invincible), and all other sorts of pictures, and though the bulk of his music appeared in Italian or Spanish productions, he wrote the score for the popular Chuck Norris vehicle Lone Wolf McQuade and worked with Basil Poledouris on music for the Judd Nelson comedy Making the Grade. When not busy with his career in film scoring, De Masi led and conducted several major symphony orchestras in Italy, and was a gifted horn player; his discography includes recordings of major works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. De Masi died in a hospital in Rome on November 6, 2005, after a battle with cancer. ~ Mark Deming
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