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Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone, Grand Officer OMRI, (Italian pronunciation: ['?nnjo morri'ko?ne\]; November 10, 1928) is an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor and former trumpet player, who has written music for more than 500 motion pictures and television series, as well as contemporary classical works. His career includes a wide range of composition genres, making him one of the world's most versatile, prolific and influential film composers of all time. Morricone's music has been used in more than 60 award-winning films.His absolute music production includes over 100 classical pieces composed since 1946. During the late 1950s Morricone served as a successful studio arranger for RCA. He orchestrated over 500 songs and worked with music artists such as Paul Anka, Chet Baker and Mina. However, Morricone gained worldwide fame by composing (during the period 1960-75) the music for Italian westerns by directors such as Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari and Sergio Corbucci, including the Dollars Trilogy, A Pistol for Ringo, The Big Gundown, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Great Silence, The Mercenary, A Fistful of Dynamite and My Name is Nobody.During the 1960s and '70s, he built long-term associations with directors such as Gillo Pontecorvo, known for the war film The Battle of Algiers, Bernardo Bertolucci for whom Morricone scored the 1976 epic film Novecento, Henri Verneuil, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mauro Bolognini, Dario Argento and Elio Petri. Morricone composed music for all film genres, ranging from comedy and drama to action thrillers and historical films. He achieved commercial success with several compositions, including "The Ecstasy of Gold", the theme of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Man with Harmonica, the protest song "Here's to You" sung by Joan Baez and "Chi Mai". Between 1964 and 1980 Morricone was also the trumpet player and a co-composer for the avant-garde free improvisation group Il Gruppo. In 1978, he wrote the official theme for the 1978 FIFA World Cup.Since 1977, Morricone boosted his career in Hollywood by composing music for some of film history's most prolific American directors such as John Carpenter, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols and Oliver Stone. Morricone has composed the music for a number of Academy Award-winning motion pictures including Days of Heaven, The Mission, The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso and Bugsy. Other noteworthy scores include Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Thing, Casualties of War, In the Line of Fire, Disclosure, Wolf, Bulworth, Mission to Mars and Ripley's Game. In the 1980s and '90s, Morricone continued to compose music for European directors. His music for La Cage aux Folles, Le Professionnel, Once Upon a Time in America and ¡Átame! are among his best-known film scores. He has composed music for numerous television series, including the acclaimed television miniseries Moses the Lawgiver, La Piovra, The Secret of the Sahara, Marco Polo and Nostromo.He is also associated with the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore, composing all the music for all his films since Cinema Paradiso (1988), such as award-winning scores for Legend of 1900, Malèna, La Sconosciuta and more recently Baaria (2009) and The Best Offer (2013). Other recent Morricone works include the music for the television series Karol and scores for The End of a Mystery, 72 Meters and Fateless. In the 2000s, Morricone's music has also been reused in movies and television series such as The Sopranos, The Simpsons and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.He has conducted many orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra. Morricone is serving as one of the main conductors of the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta since the mid-1990s. He has conducted over 200 concerts worldwide since 2001 and is still performing regularly. In November 2013, Morricone began a world tour to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his film music career.In 2007, Ennio Morricone received the Academy Honorary Award "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music". He has been nominated for a further five Oscars during 1979-2001. Morricone has won three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, five BAFTAs during 1979-92, ten David di Donatello, eleven Nastro d'Argento, two European Film Awards, the Golden Lion Honorary Award and the Polar Music Prize in 2010.EarlyIn 1953 he was asked by Gorni Kramer and Lelio Luttazzi to write an arrangement for some medleys in an American style for a series of evening radio shows. The composer continued with the composition of other 'serious' classical pieces, thus demonstrating the flexibility and eclecticism which will always be an integral part of his character. Many orchestral and chamber compositions date, in fact, from the period between 1954 and 1959: Musica per archi e pianoforte (1954), Invenzione, Canone e Ricercare per piano; Sestetto per flauto, oboe, fagotto, violino, viola e violoncello (1955), Dodici Variazione per oboe, violoncello e piano; Trio per clarinetto, corno e violoncello; Variazione su un tema di Frescobaldi (1956); Quattro pezzi per chitarra (1957); Distanze per violino, violoncello e piano; Musica per undici violini, Tre Studi per flauto, clarinetto e fagotto (1958); and the Concerto per orchestra (1957), dedicated to his teacher Goffredo Petrassi.Morricone soon gained popularity by writing his first background music for radio dramas and quickly moved into film.

Composing for radio, television and pop artists

In 1956, Morricone started to support his family by playing in a jazz band and arranging pop songs for the Italian broadcasting service RAI. He was hired by RAI in 1958, but quit his job on his first day at work when he was told that broadcasting of music composed by employees was forbidden by a company rule. Subsequently, Morricone became a top studio arranger at RCA, working with Renato Rascel, Rita Pavone, and Mario Lanza.Throughout his career Morricone has composed songs for several national and international pop artists including Gianni Morandi (Go Kart Twist, 1962), Alberto Lionello (La donna che vale, 1959), Edoardo Vianello (Ornella, 1960; Cicciona cha-cha, 1960; Faccio finta di dormire, 1961; T'ho conosciuta, 1963; ), Nora Orlandi (Arianna, 1960), Jimmy Fontana (Twist no. 9; Nicole, 1962), Rita Pavone (Pel di carota from 1962, arranged by Luis Bacalov), Catherine Spaak (Penso a te; Questi vent'anni miei, 1964), Luigi Tenco (Quello che conta; Tra tanta gente; 1962), Gino Paoli (Nel corso from 1963, written by Morricone with Paoli), Renato Rascel (Scirocco, 1964), Paul Anka (Ogni Volta), Amii Stewart, Rosy Armen (L'Amore Gira), Milva (Ridevi, Metti Una Sera A Cena), Françoise Hardy (Je changerais d'avis, 1966), Mireille Mathieu (Mon ami de toujours; Pas vu, pas pris, 1971; J'oublie la pluie et le soleil, 1974) and Demis Roussos (I Like The World, 1970).In 1963 the composer co-wrote (with Roby Ferrante) the music for the composition "Ogni volta" ("Every Time"), a song that was performed by Paul Anka for the first time during the Festival di San Remo in 1964. This song was arranged and conducted by Morricone and sold over three million copies worldwide, including one million copies in Italy alone.Another particular success was his composition, "Se telefonando". Performed by Mina, it was a standout track of Studio Uno 66, the fifth-biggest-selling album of the year 1966 in Italy. Morricone's sophisticated arrangement of "Se telefonando" was a combination of melodic trumpet lines, Hal Blaine–style drumming, a string set, a '60s Europop female choir, and intensive subsonic-sounding trombones. The Italian Hitparade #7 song had eight transitions of tonality building tension throughout the chorus. During the following decades, the song was covered by several performers in Italy and abroad most notably by Françoise Hardy and Iva Zanicchi (1966), Delta V (2005), Vanessa and the O's (2007), and Neil Hannon (2008). Françoise Hardy - Mon amie la rose site In the reader's poll conducted by the la Repubblica newspaper to celebrate Mina's 70th anniversary in 2010, 30,000 voters picked the track as the best song ever recorded by Mina.In 1987 Morricone co-wrote 'It Couldn't Happen Here' with the Pet Shop Boys. Other notable compositions for international artists include: La metà di me and Immagina (1988) by Ruggero Raimondi, Libera l'amore (1989) performed by Zucchero, Love Affair (1994) by k.d. lang, Ha fatto un sogno (1997) by Antonello Venditti, Di Più (1997) by Tiziana Tosca Donati, Come un fiume tu (1998), Un Canto (1998) and Conradian (2006) by Andrea Bocelli, Ricordare (1998) and Salmo (2000) by Angelo Branduardi and My heart and I (2001) by Sting.

First film scores

After graduating in 1954, Morricone started writing and arranging music as a ghost writer for films credited to other already well-known composers, while also arranging for many light music orchestras of the RAI television network, working most notably with Armando Trovajoli and Carlo Savina. He occasionally adopted Anglicized pseudonyms, such as Dan Savio and Leo Nichols.In 1959, Morricone was the conductor (and uncredited co-composer) for Mario Nascimbene's score to Morte Di Un Amico (Death of a Friend), an Italian drama directed by Franco Rossi. In the same year, he composed music for the theatre show Il Lieto Fine by Luciano Salce.The 1960s began on a positive note: 1961 marked in fact his real film debut with Luciano Salce's Il Federale (The Fascist). In an interview with American composer Fred Karlin, Morricone discussed his beginnings, stating, My first films were light comedies or costume movies that required simple musical scores that were easily created, a genre that I never completely abandoned even when I went on to much more important films with major directors.Il Federale marked the beginning of a long-run collaboration with Luciano Salce. In 1962 Morricone composed the jazz-influenced score for Salce's comedy La voglia matta (Crazy Desire). That year Morricone arranged also Italian singer Edoardo Vianello's summer hit "Pinne, Fucile e Occhiali", a cha-cha song, peppered with added water effects, unusual instrumental sounds and unexpected stops and starts.Morricone wrote more works in the climate of the Italian avant-garde. A few of these compositions have been made available on CD, such as "Ut", his trumpet concerto dedicated to the soloist Mauro Maur, one of his favorite musicians; some have yet to be premiered.

Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza

From 1964 up to their eventual disbandment in 1980, he was part of Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza (G.I.N.C.), a group of composers who performed and recorded avant garde free improvisations. The Rome-based avant-garde ensemble was dedicated to the development of improvisation and new music methods. The ensemble functioned as a laboratory of sorts, working with anti-musical systems and noise techniques in an attempt to redefine the new music ensemble and explore "New Consonance."Known as "The Group" or "Il Gruppo", they released seven albums across the Deutsche Grammophon, RCA and Cramps labels: Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (1966), The Private Sea of Dreams (1967), Improvisationen (1968), The Feed-back (1970), Improvvisazioni a Formazioni Variate (1973), Nuova Consonanza (1975) and Musica su Schemi (1976). Perhaps the most famous of these is their album entitled The Feed-back, which combines free jazz and avant-garde classical music with funk; the album is frequently sampled by hip-hop DJs and is considered to be one of the most collectable records in existence, often fetching over $1,000 at auction.Morricone played a key role in The Group and was among the core members in its revolving line-up; in addition to serving as their trumpet player, he directed them on many occasions and they can be heard on a large number of his scores from the 1970s.Held in high regard in avant-garde music circles, they are considered to be the first experimental composers collective, their only peers being the British improvisation collective AMM. Their influence can be heard in free improvising ensembles from the European movements including Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, the Swiss electronic free improvisation group Voice Crack, John Zorn and in the techniques of modern classical music and avant-garde jazz groups. The ensemble's groundbreaking work informed their work in composition. The ensemble did also perform in varying capacities with Morricone adding noise to some of his '60s and '70s Italian soundtracks, including A Quiet Place in the Country (1969) and Cold Eyes of Fear (1971).

Composing for comedy pictures

His earliest scores were Italian light comedy and costume pictures, where Morricone learned to write simple, memorable themes. During the sixties he composed the scores for comedies such as Dino Risi's Il Successo (1962), Lina Wertmüller's I basilischi., Franco Indovina's Menage all'italiana and L'Alibi.These scores include cheerful tunes, some pop arrangements, lounge jazz and often dazzling vocals - all of them featuring a Morricone flair.His best-known scores for comedies includes La Cage aux Folles (1978) and La Cage aux Folles II (1980), both directed by Édouard Molinaro, Il ladrone (1980), Georges Lautner's La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding (1985), Pedro Almodóvar's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990) and Warren Beatty's Bulworth (1998). Morricone has never ceased to arrange and write music for comedies. In 2007, he composed a lighthearted score for the Italian romantic comedy Tutte le Donne della mia Vita by Simona Izzo, the director who co-wrote the Morricone-scored religious mini-series Il Papa Buono.

Spaghetti Westerns

Though his first films were undistinguished, Morricone's arrangement of an American folk song intrigued director and former schoolmate Sergio Leone. Before being associated with Leone, Morricone had already composed some music for less-known western movies such as Gunfight at Red Sands'/'Duello nel Texas (1963). In 1962 Morricone met American folksinger Peter Tevis, who is credited with singing the lyrics of Morricone's songs such as "A Gringo Like Me" (from Gunfight at Red Sands) and "Lonesome Billy" (from Guns Don't Argue).

Association with Sergio Leone

The turning point in Morricone's career took place in 1964, the year in which his third child, Andrea Morricone, also a film composer, was born. Film director Sergio Leone hired Morricone, and together they created a distinctive score to accompany Leone's different version of the Western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964).

The Dollars trilogy

As budget strictures limited Morricone's access to a full orchestra, he used gunshots, cracking whips, whistle, voices, jew's harp, trumpets, and the new Fender electric guitar, instead of orchestral arrangements of Western standards a la John Ford. Morricone used his special effects to punctuate and comically tweak the action—cluing in the audience to the taciturn man's ironic stance. Though sonically bizarre for a movie score, Morricone's music was viscerally true to Leone's vision.As memorable as Leone's close-ups, harsh violence, and black comedy, Morricone's work helped to expand the musical possibilities of film scoring. Morricone was initially billed on the film as Dan Savio. A Fistful of Dollars came out in Italy in 1964 and was released in America three years later, greatly popularizing the so-called Spaghetti Western genre. For the American release, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone decided to adopt American sounding names, so they called themselves respectively Bob Robertson and Dan Savio. Over the film's theatrical release, it grossed more than any other Italian film up to that point. The film debuted in the United States in January 1967, where it grossed $4.5 million for the year. It eventually grossed $14.5 million in its American release against its budget of $200–250,000.With the score of A Fistful of Dollars, Morricone began his 20-year collaboration with his childhood friend Alessandro Alessandroni and his Cantori Moderni. Alessandroni provided the whistling and the twanging guitar on the film scores, while his Cantori Moderni were a flexible troupe of modern singers. Morricone specifically exploited the solo soprano of the group, Edda Dell'Orso, at the height of her powers "an extraordinary voice at my disposal". Since 2001, Morricone has been accompanied by the voice of the soprano soloist Susanna Rigacci during live performances.The composer subsequently scored Leone's other two Dollars Trilogy (or Man with No Name Trilogy) spaghetti westerns: For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). All three films starred the American actor Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name and depicted Leone's own intense vision of the mythical West. Some of the music was written before the film, which was unusual. Leone's films were made like that because he wanted the music to be an important part of it; he kept the scenes longer because he did not want the music to end. According to Morricone this explains why the films are so slow.Despite the small film budgets, the Dollars Trilogy was a box-office success. The available budget for The Good, the Bad and The Ugly was about $1,200,000, but it became the most successful film of the Dollars Trilogy, grossing $25,100,000 in the United States and over 2,3 billion lire (1,2 million EUR) in Italy alone. Morricone's score became a major success and sold over three million copies worldwide. On August 14, 1968, the original score was certified by the RIAA with a golden record for the sale of 500,000 copies in the United States only.Hugo Montenegro's version of the Main Theme of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly sold over one million copies worldwide. Montenegro's album with the same name included a selection of Morricone's compositions from the Dollars Trilogy. In the United States, the album was certified gold by the RIAA on September 9, 1969. The Main Theme was later sampled by artists such as Cameo ("Word Up!"), Bomb the Bass and LL Cool J."The Ecstasy of Gold" became one of Morricone's best-known compositions. The opening scene of Jeff Tremaine's Jackass Number Two (2006), in which the cast is chased through a suburban neighborhood by bulls, is accompanied by this piece. While punk rock band the Ramones used "The Ecstasy of Gold" as closing theme during their live performances, Metallica uses "The Ecstasy of Gold" as the introductory music for its concerts since 1983 This composition is also included on Metallica's live symphonic album S&M as well as the live album Live Shit: Binge & Purge. An instrumental metal cover by Metallica (with minimal vocals by lead singer James Hetfield) appeared on the 2007 Morricone tribute album We All Love Ennio Morricone. This metal version was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In 2009, the Grammy Award winning hip-hop artist Coolio extensively sampled the theme for his song "Change".

Once Upon a Time in the West and others

Subsequent to the success of the Dollars trilogy, Morricone composed also the scores for Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Leone's last credited western film A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), as well as the scores for My Name Is Nobody (1973) and A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975), produced by Sergio Leone.Morricone's score for Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the best-selling original instrumental scores in the world today, with up to 10 million copies sold, including one million copies in France and over 800,000 copies in the Netherlands. One of the main themes from the score, "A Man with Harmonica" (L'uomo Dell'armonica), became worldwide known and sold over 1,260,000 copies in France alone. This theme was later sampled in popular songs such as Beats International's "Dub Be Good to Me" (1990) and The Orb's ambient single "Little Fluffy Clouds" (1990). Film composer Hans Zimmer sampled "A Man with Harmonica" in 2007 as part of his composition "Parlay" (from the soundtrack Pirates of the Caribbean - at World's End).The collaboration with Leone is considered one of the exemplary collaborations between a director and a composer. Morricone's last score for Leone was for his last film, the gangster drama Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Leone died on April 30, 1989, of a heart attack at the age of 60. Before his death in 1989, Leone was part-way through planning a film on the Siege of Leningrad, set during World War II. By 1989, Leone had been able to acquire $100 million in financing from independent backers for the war epic. He had convinced Morricone to compose the film score. The project was canceled when Leone died two days before he was to officially sign on for the film. In early 2003, Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore announced he would direct a film called Leningrad. The film has yet to go into production.

Association with Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima

Two years after the start of his collaboration with Sergio Leone, Morricone also started to score music for another Spaghetti Western director, Sergio Corbucci. The composer wrote music for Corbucci's Navajo Joe (1966), The Hellbenders (1967), The Mercenary/The Professional Gun (1968), The Great Silence (1968), Compañeros (1970), La Banda J.S.: Cronaca criminale del Far West (1972) and What Am I Doing in the Middle of the Revolution? (1972).In addition, Morricone composed music for the western films by Sergio Sollima, The Big Gundown (with Lee Van Cleef, 1966), Face to Face (1967), Run, Man, Run! (1968) and the 1970 crime thriller Violent City (with Charles Bronson) and the poliziottesco film Revolver.

Other westerns

Other relevant scores for less popular Spaghetti Westerns include Duello nel Texas (1963), Le pistole non discutono (1964), A Pistol for Ringo (1965), The Return of Ringo (1965), Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse (1967) and Tepepa (1968), A Bullet for the General (1967), Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian (with Charles Bronson and Anthony Quinn, 1968), A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof (1968), The Five Man Army (1969), Don Siegel's Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) and Buddy Goes West (1981).

Dramas and political movies

With Leone's films, Ennio Morricone's name had been put firmly on the map. Most of Morricone's film scores of the 1960s were composed outside the Spaghetti Western genre, while still using Alessandroni's team. Their music included the themes for Il Malamondo (1964), Slalom (1965) and Listen, Let's Make Love (1967). In 1968, Morricone reduced his work outside the movie business and wrote scores for 20 films in the same year. The scores included psychedelic accompaniment for Mario Bava's superhero romp Danger: Diabolik (1968)His talent and creativity were such that many other directors were soon keen to collaborate with him, and in the next few years Morricone scored a lot of films by politically committed directors: collaborating with Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket, 1965), Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle of Algiers (1966) and Queimada! (1969) with Marlon Brando), Roberto Faenza (H2S, 1968), Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (Metti una sera a cena, 1969), Giuliano Montaldo (Sacco e Vanzetti, 1971), Mauro Bolognini (Drama of the Rich, 1974), Pier Paolo Pasolini (The Hawks and the Sparrows, 1966) and Bernardo Bertolucci (Novecento, 1976).In 1970, Morricone wrote the score for Violent City. That same year, he received his first Nastro d'Argento for the music in Metti una sera a cena (Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, 1969) and his second only a year later for Sacco e Vanzetti (Giuliano Montaldo, 1971), in which he had made a memorable collaboration with the legendary American folk singer and activist Joan Baez. His soundtrack for Sacco e Vanzetti contains another well-known composition by Morricone, the folk song "Here's to You", sung by Joan Baez. For the writing of the lyrics, Baez was inspired by a letter from Bartolomeo Vanzetti: "Father, yes, I am a prisoner / Fear not to relay my crime". The song became a hit in several countries, selling over 790,000 copies in France only. The song was later included in movies such as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and in the video game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots as the closing theme as well as the recently released gameplay trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.In the same year, Morricone composed the score for the less-known drama Maddalena (1971) by the Polish film director Jerzy Kawalerowicz which included its composition 'Chi Mai'. The theme appeared on the million-selling score for Georges Lautner's Le Professionnel (1981), as well as the TV series, An Englishman's Castle (1978) and The Life and Times of David Lloyd George (1981). Because of its appearance on the latter, "Chi Mai" reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1981. The single was certified by the BPI with a golden record on May 1, 1981 and sold over 900,000 copies in France alone. "Chi Mai" is also the name of the online community about Morricone, which offers a repository of information and a free online magazine called "Maestro", containing reviews, articles, discoveries and free comments.In the beginning of the 1970s, Morricone achieved success with other singles, including A Fistful of Dynamite (1971) and God With Us (1974), having sold respectively 477,000 and 378,000 copies in France only.Between 1967 and 1993 the composer had a long-term collaboration with director Mauro Bolognini. Morricone wrote more than 15 film scores for Bolognini, including Le streghe (1966), L'assoluto naturale (1969), Un bellissimo novembre (1969), Metello (1970), Libera, amore mio... (1973), Per le antiche scale (1975), La Dame aux camelias (1980), Mosca addio (1987), Gli indifferenti (1988) and La villa del venerd (1992).

Horror movies

Ennio Morricone's eclecticism and knack for creating highly poignant, melodic and emotional music found great scope also in horror movies, such as the baroque thrillers of Dario Argento, from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1970) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) to The Stendhal Syndrome (1996).In 1982 Morricone composed also the score for John Carpenter's science fiction horror movie The Thing. Morricone's main theme for the film was reflected in Marco Beltrami's film's score of the prequel of the 1982 film, which was released in 2011.

Hollywood career

The Dollars Trilogy was not released in the United States until 1967 when United Artists, who had already enjoyed success distributing the British-produced James Bond films in the United States, decided to release Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns. The American release gave Morricone an exposure in America and his film music became quite popular in the United States.One of Morricone's first contributions to an American director concerned his music for the religious epic film The Bible: In the Beginning by John Huston. According to Sergio Miceli's book Morricone, la musica, il cinema, Morricone wrote about 15 or 16 minutes of music, which were recorded for a screen test and conducted by Franco Ferrara. At first Morricone's teacher Goffredo Petrassi had been engaged to write the score for the great big budget epic, but Huston preferred another composer. RCA Records then proposed Morricone who was under contract with them, but a conflict between the film's producer Dino De Laurentiis and RCA occurred. The producer wanted to have the exclusive rights for the soundtrack, while RCA still had the monopoly on Morricone at that time and did not want to release the composer. Subsequently Morricone's work was rejected because he did not get the ok by RCA to work for Dino De Laurentiis alone. The composer reused the parts of his unused score for The Bible: In the Beginning in such films as The Return of Ringo (1965) by Duccio Tessari and Alberto Negrin's The Secret of the Sahara (1987).Morricone never left Rome to compose his music and never learned to speak English. But given that the composer has always worked in a wide field of composition genres, from absolute music, which he has always produced, to applied music, working as orchestrator as well as conductor in the recording field, and then as a composer for theatre, radio and cinema, the impression arises that he never really cared that much about his standing in the eyes of Hollywood.

1970-1985: from Two Mules for Sister Sara to Red Sonja

In 1970 Morricone composed the music for Don Siegel's Two Mules for Sister Sara, an American-Mexican western film starring Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood. That year the composer delivered also the score for Phil Karlson's war film Hornets' Nest, starring Rock Hudson. In 1974 Morricone wrote music for some unknown episodes of the science-fiction television series Space: 1999, directed by Lee H. Katzin. Three years later he composed the score for the sequel to William Friedkin's 1973 film The Exorcist, directed by John Boorman: Exorcist II: The Heretic. The horror film was a major disappointment at the box office. The film grossed $30,749,142 in the United States, turning a profit but still disappointing in comparison to the original film's gross.In 1978 the composer worked with Terrence Malick for Days of Heaven, starring Richard Gere. During the lengthy editing process of the romantic drama, which won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography with an additional three nominations for the score, Terrence Malick and Billy Weber made use of a temporary score dominated by Morricone's music for the Bernardo Bertolucci film Novecento. Malick also chose the ethereal Aquarium music from Camille Saint-Saëns ("The Carnival of the Animals") to frame the film. When Malick decided he wanted Morricone to score his movie, the director sent a version of it to Italy with the Novecento temp track in place. Morricone agreed to the assignment and Malick flew to Italy because the composer did not fly, so would not travel to the United States. Malick took the movie over to Morricone in Italy and Morricone was writing for Days of Heaven the whole time. Afterwards they scored the music in Italy. In Days of Heaven, Morricone's elegiac music coexists with pre-existing selections.Despite the fact that Morricone had produced some of the most popular and widely imitated film music ever written throughout the 1960s and '70s, Days of Heaven earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score, with his score up against Jerry Goldsmith's The Boys from Brazil, Dave Grusins Heaven Can Wait, Giorgio Moroders' Midnight Express (the eventual winner) and John Williamss Superman: The Movie at the Oscar ceremonies in 1979.In 1979 Morricone provided the music for the thriller Bloodline, directed by Terence Young, best known for directing the James Bond films Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), and Thunderball (1965). Subsequently the composer was asked to score Michael Ritchie's The Island (1980, starring Michael Caine), Gordon Willis's thriller Windows (1980), Andrew Bergman's comedy So Fine (1981) starring Ryan O'Neal, Samuel Fuller's controversial drama film White Dog (1982) and Thieves After Dark (1984), Jerry London's critically acclaimed TV movie The Scarlet and the Black (1983), starring Gregory Peck, and Richard Fleischers box office bomb Red Sonja (1985), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen.

1986 onwards: from The Mission to Django Unchained

Morricone's most fruitful and often long-term collaborations have been with Hollywood-related directors such as Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Warren Beatty, Oliver Stone and especially Roland Joffé, for whom Morricone wrote one of his best-known scores, the highly evocative soundtrack for The Mission (1986).

Association with Roland Joffé

The Mission, directed by Joffé, was about a piece of history considerably more distant, as Spanish Jesuit missionaries see their work undone as a tribe of Paraguayan natives fall within a territorial dispute between the Spanish and Portuguese. Morricone's score is considered as an example of an absolute pinnacle of what music can do for a film, and what a soundtrack album can do to enrich the listener's life. At one point the score was one of the world's best-selling film scores, selling over 3 million copies worldwide.Morricone finally received a second Oscar nomination for The Mission. Morricone's original score lost out to Herbie Hancock's coolly arranged jazz on Bertrand Tavernier's Round Midnight. It was considered as a surprising win and a controversial one, given that much of the music in the film was pre-existing. Morricone stated the following during a 2001 interview with The Guardian: "I definitely felt that I should have won for The Mission. Especially when you consider that the Oscar-winner that year was Round Midnight, which was not an original score. It had a very good arrangement by Herbie Hancock, but it used existing pieces. So there could be no comparison with The Mission. There was a theft!" His score for The Mission was ranked at number 1 in a poll of the all-time greatest film scores. The top 10 list was compiled by 40 film composers such as Michael Giacchino and Carter Burwell. The score is ranked 23rd on the AFI's list of 25 greatest film scores of all time.The composer wrote also the music for three other movies by Joffé: Fat Man and Little Boy (1989, starring Paul Newman), City of Joy (1992, starring Patrick Swayze) and the opening film for the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Vatel, starring Gérard Depardieu, Uma Thurman and Tim Roth.

Association with Brian De Palma and Barry Levinson

On three occasions, Brian De Palma worked with Morricone: The Untouchables (1987), the 1989 war drama Casualties of War and the science fiction film Mission to Mars (2000). De Palma's The Untouchables, starring rising star Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness, Robert De Niro as Al Capone and the Oscar-winning Sean Connery, was released in 1987. Morricone's score for The Untouchables resulted in his third nomination for Academy Award for Best Original Score.In a 2001 interview with The Guardian, Morricone stated that he had good experiences with De Palma: "De Palma is delicious! He respects music, he respects composers. For The Untouchables, everything I proposed to him was fine, but then he wanted a piece that I didn't like at all, and of course we didn't have an agreement on that. It was something I didn't want to write - a triumphal piece for the police. I think I wrote nine different pieces for this in total and I said, 'Please don't choose the seventh!' because it was the worst. And guess what he chose? The seventh one. But it really suits the movie."Another American director, Barry Levinson, commissionned the composer on two occasions. First, for the crime-drama Bugsy, starring Warren Beatty, which received ten Oscar nominations, winning two for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Dennis Gassner, Nancy Haigh) and Best Costume Design.The highest-grossing American movie for which the composer wrote a complete score was for Levinson's Disclosure in 1994, starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore."He doesn't have a piano in his studio, I always thought that with composers, you sit at the piano, and you try to find the melody. There's no such thing with Morricone. He hears a melody, and he writes it down. He hears the orchestration completely done", said Barry Levinson in an interview.

Other notable Hollywood scores

During his career in Hollywood, Morricone was approached for numerous other projects, including the Gregory Nava drama A Time of Destiny (1988), Frantic by Polish-French director Roman Polanski (1988, starring Harrison Ford), Franco Zeffirelli's 1990 drama film Hamlet (starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close), the neo-noir crime film State of Grace by Phil Joanou (1990, starring Sean Penn and Ed Harris), Rampage (1992) by William Friedkin (best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973) and the romantic dram Love Affair (1994) by Warren Beatty.None of the aforementioned films were box office successes, but fortunately Morricone was also commissionned for more successful motion pictures such as In the Line of Fire (1993) by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich, the horror film Wolf (1994, Mike Nichols), which featured Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer in the lead roles, and Bulworth by Warren Beatty.In 1996, Morricone composed the music for Lolita (by Adrian Lyne) and Oliver Stone's U Turn, starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Lopez. A year later, Ennio Morricone wrote a complete score for the 1998 drama What Dreams May Come, but Vincent Ward found the music too emotional and replaced Morricone by Michael Kamen.One of his last complete scores for an American-related project includes the 2002 thriller Ripley's Game, starring John Malkovich, by Liliana Cavani.

Extensive reuse of his music

Besides the 500 original film scores that have been composed by Morricone for movies and television series in a career of over six decades, his music is in addition frequently reused in more than 150 other film projects. Morricone's compositions appeared in the German TV series Derrick (1989), the live-action comedy film Inspector Gadget, Ally McBeal (2001), The Simpsons (2002), The Sopranos (2001–2002) and more recently in Dancing with the Stars (2010).Quentin Tarantino borrowed for several of his films Morricone's music. The Main Title of Death Rides a Horse (1967) can be heard in Kill Bill Volume 1, while Kill Bill Volume 2 contains music originally from For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Mercenary and Navajo Joe. The themes "Paranoia Prima" and "Unexpected Violence" ("Violenza in attesa"), originally from respectively The Cat o' Nine Tails and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, were used in Death Proof (2007) by Tarantino.In 2010 Tarantino originally wanted Morricone to compose the film score for Inglourious Basterds. Morricone was unable to, because the film's sped-up production schedule conflicted with his scoring of Giuseppe Tornatore's Baarìa. However, Tarantino did use eight tracks composed by Morricone in the film, with four of them included on the soundtrack. The tracks came originally from Morricone's scores for The Big Gundown (1966), Revolver (1973) and Allonsanfàn (1974).In 2012, Morricone composed the song "Ancora Qui" with lyrics by Italian singer Elisa for Tarantino's Django Unchained, a track that appeared together with three existing music tracks composed by Morricone on the soundtrack. "Ancora Qui" was one of the contenders for an Academy Award nomination in the Best Original Song category, but eventually the song was not nominated. On January 4, 2013, Morricone presented Tarantino with a Life Achievement Award at a special ceremony being cast as a continuation of the International Rome Film Festival.

Frequent composer for Giuseppe Tornatore

In 1988 Morricone started an on-going and very successful collaboration with Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore. His first score for Tornatore was for the drama film Cinema Paradiso. The international version of the film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and the 1989 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. In 2002, the director's cut 173-minute version was released (known in the U.S. as Cinema Paradiso: The New Version). Morricone received a BAFTA-award and a David di Donatello for his score.After the success of Cinema Paradiso, the composer wrote the music for all subsequent films by Tornatore: the drama film Everybody’s Fine (Stanno Tutti Bene, 1990), A Pure Formality (1994) starring Gérard Depardieu and Roman Polanski, The Star Maker (1995), The Legend of 1900 (1998) starring Tim Roth, the 2000 romantic drama Malèna (which featured Monica Bellucci) and the psychological thriller mystery film La sconosciuta (2006).More recently, Morricone composed the scores for Baarìa - La porta del vento (2009) and The Best Offer (2013) starring Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland.The composer won several music awards for his scores to Tornatore's movies. So, Morricone received a fifth Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Malèna. For Legend of 1900, he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Television series

Morricone has worked for television, from a single title piece to variety shows and documentaries to TV series, including Moses the Lawgiver (1974), The Life and Times of David Lloyd George (1981), Marco Polo (1982) (which won two Primetime Emmys), The Secret of the Sahara (1987), I Promessi Sposi and Nostromo (1996).He wrote the score for the Mafia television series La piovra seasons 2 to 10 from 1985 to 2001, including the themes "Droga e sangue" ("Drugs and Blood"), "La Morale", and "L'Immorale". Morricone worked as the conductor of seasons 3 to 5 of the series. He also worked as the music supervisor for the television project La bibbia ("The Bible").In the late 1990s, he collaborated with his son Andrea on the Ultimo crime dramas, resulting in Ultimo (1998), Ultimo 2 - La sfida (1999), Ultimo 3 - L'infiltrato (2004) and Ultimo 4 - L'occhio del falco (2013).In the 2000s, Morricone continued to compose music for successful television series such as Il Cuore nel Pozzo (2005), Karol: A Man Who Became Pope (2005), La provinciale (2006), Giovanni Falcone (2007), Pane e libertà (2009) and Come Un Delfino 1-2 (2011–2013).With an estimated 13 million viewers, Karol: A Man Who Became Pope became an incredible success. Morricone wrote additional music for the sequel, Karol: The Pope, The Man (2006), which portrayed Karol's life as Pope from his papal inauguration to his death. Both scores were originally released respectively in 2005 and 2006. One year later, a double disc album with both scores is released.

Recent works

In 2003, Morricone scored another epic, for Japanese television, called Musashi and was the Taiga drama about Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's legendary warrior. A part of his "applied music" is now applied to Italian television films.Morricone provided the string arrangements on Morrissey's "Dear God Please Help Me" from the album Ringleader of the Tormentors in 2006.Since 2004, Morricone wrote music for almost exclusively Italian television movies and mini-series, especially for directors such as Giuseppe Tornatore, Alberto Negrin, Giuliano Montaldo and Franza Di Rosa.In 2008, the composer recorded music for a Lancia commercial, featuring Richard Gere and directed by Harald Zwart (known for directing The Pink Panther 2).Tarantino originally wanted Morricone to compose the soundtrack for his film, Inglourious Basterds. However, Morricone refused because of the sped-up production schedule of the film. Tarantino did use several Morricone tracks from previous films in the soundtrack. Morricone instead wrote the music for Baaria - La porta del vento by Tornatore. It was the second time Morricone's turned down the director, he also turned down an offer to write some music for "Pulp Fiction" in 1994.In spring and summer 2010, Morricone worked with Hayley Westenra for a collaboration on her album Paradiso. The album features new songs written by Morricone, as well as some of his best-known film compositions of the last 50 years. Hayley recorded the album with Morricone's orchestra in Rome during the summer of 2010.In 2012, Morricone collaborated with international pop classical crossover singer/songwriter Romina Arena supporting her on the making of a new album which includes a collection of all of his greatest movie scores reinterpreted by Arena's own voice and lyrics. The album is entitled Morricone Uncovered and was released on September 18, 2012, by Perseverance Records.Morricone composed the music for The Best Offer (2013) by Giuseppe Tornatore. He is also attached to write the score for the upcoming movie by Tornatore: Leningrad (2014).On October 24, 2012, Morricone's management announced that the composer is set to score the upcoming animated movie The Canterville Ghost (2014), from producers Robert Chandler and Gina Carter, directed by Kim Burdon.

Orchestrating, conducting and live performing

Before receiving his diplomas in trumpet, composition and instrumentation from the conservatory, Morricone was already active as a trumpet player, often performing in an orchestra that specialized in music written for films. After completing his education at Saint Cecilia, the composer honed his orchestration skills as an arranger for Italian radio and television. In order to support himself, he moved to RCA in the early sixties and entered the front ranks of the Italian recording industry. Since 1964, Morricone was also a founding member of the Rome-based avant-garde ensemble Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza. During the existence of the group (until 1978), Morricone performed several times with the group as trumpet player.To ready his music for live performance, he joined smaller pieces of music together into longer suites. Rather than single pieces, which would require the audience to applaud every few minutes, Morricone thought the best idea was to create a series of suites lasting from 15 to 20 minutes, which form a sort of symphony in various movements — alternating successful pieces with personal favorites. In concert, Morricone normally has 180 to 200 musicians and vocalists under his baton, performing multiple genre-crossing collections of music. Rock, symphonic and ethnic instruments share the stage.On September 20, 1984, Morricone conducted the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire at Cinésymphonie '84 ("Première nuit de la musique de film/First night of film music") in the French concert hall Salle Pleyel in Paris. He performed some of his best-known compositions such as Metti una sera a cena, Novecento and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Michel Legrand and Georges Delerue performed on the same evening.On October 15, 1987, Morricone gave a concert in front of 12,000 people in the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium, with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra and the Italian operatic soprano Alide Maria Salvetta. A live-album with a recording of this concert was released in the same year.On June 9, 2000, Morricone came to the Flanders International Film Festival Ghent to conduct his music together with the National Orchestra of Belgium. During the concert's first part, the screening of The Life and Death of King Richard III (1912) was accompanied with live music by Morricone. It was the very first time that the score was performed live in Europe. The second part of the evening consisted of an anthology of the composer's work. The event took place on the eve of Euro 2000, the European Football Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands.Morricone performed over 200 concerts as of 2001. Since 2001, the composer has been on a world tour, the latter part sponsored by Giorgio Armani, with the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta, touring London (Barbican 2001; 75th birthday Concerto, Royal Albert Hall 2003), Paris, Verona, and Tokyo. Morricone performed his classic film scores at the Munich Philharmonie in 2005 and Hammersmith Apollo Theatre in London, UK, on December 1 & 2, 2006.He made his North American concert debut on January 29, 2007, at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City and four days later at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The previous evening, Morricone had already presented at the United Nations a concert comprising some of his film themes, as well as the cantata Voci dal silenzio to welcome the new Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. A Los Angeles Times review bemoaned the poor acoustics and opined of Morricone: "His stick technique is adequate, but his charisma as a conductor is zero." Morricone, though, has said: "Conducting has never been important to me. If the audience comes for my gestures, they had better stay outside."On December 12, 2007, Morricone conducted the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta at the Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna, presenting a selection of his own works. Together with the Roma Sinfonietta and the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, Morricone performed at the Opening Concerts of the Belfast Festival at Queen's, in the Waterfront Hall on October 17 and 18, 2008. Morricone and Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta also held a concert at the Belgrade Arena (Belgrade, Serbia) on February 14, 2009.On April 10, 2010, Morricone conducted a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta and (as in all of his previous London concerts) the Crouch End Festival Chorus. On August 27, 2010, he conducted a concert in Hungary, and on September 11 in Verona.On February 26, 2012, Morricone made his Australian debut when he conducted the Western Australian Youth Orchestra together with a 100 voice chorus (made up primarily of WASO chorus members) at the Burswood Theatre (part of Crown Perth (formerly known as Burswood Entertainment Complex)) in Perth. On March 2, 2012, he conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at Elder Park, Adelaide as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts.On December 22, 2012, Morricone conducted the 85-piece Belgian orchestra "Orkest der Lage Landen" and a 100-piece choir during a two-hour concert in the Sportpaleis in Antwerp.In November 2013, Morricone began a world tour to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his film music career and will perform in locations such as the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Santiago, Chile, Barclays Center in New York, Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and the Bercy in Paris.

Forum Music Village

In the late 1960s, Morricone and three other Italian composers (Piero Piccioni, Armando Trovajoli and Luis Bacalov) founded Forum Music Village (Rome), previously called Ortophonic recording studio. The recording studio has some peculiarities, one of them is the ability to record a church organ directly to the studio.Morricone has been using the studio to create his scores for the past 40 years. The studio has hosted many directors who have worked alongside him, including Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone and Barry Levinson.The Academy Award-winning scores of Il Postino: The Postman by Luis Bacalov and Life Is Beautiful by Nicola Piovani were recorded in Studio A of Forum Music Village.Notable artists who have recorded at Forum Music Village are Quincy Jones, Jon and Vangelis, Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers,, Yo-Yo Ma, Morrissey, Bruno Nicolai, Alessandro Alessandroni, Goblin, Pino Donaggio, Nicola Piovani, Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi and Cher.

Personal life

On 13 October 1956, he married Maria Travia, whom he had met in 1950 and had his first son, Marco, in 1957. Travia has written lyrics to complement her husband's pieces. Her works include the Latin texts for The Mission. They have three sons and a daughter, in order of birth: Marco (1957), Alessandra (1961), the conductor and film composer Andrea (Andrew) (1964), and Giovanni Morricone (1966), a filmmaker, who lives in New York City.

Influence and modern references

  • Morricone's influence also extends into the realm of pop music. Hugo Montenegro had a hit with a version of the main theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in both the United Kingdom and the United States. This was followed by his album of Morricone's music in 1968.
  • Aside from his music having been sampled by everyone from rappers (Jay-Z) to electronic outfits (the Orb), Morricone wrote "Se Telefonando", which became Italy's fifth biggest-selling record of 1966 and has since been re-recorded by Françoise Hardy, among many others, and scored the strings for "Dear God, Please Help Me" on Morrissey's 2006 Ringleader of the Tormentors album.
  • Morricone's film music was also recorded by many artists. John Zorn recorded an album of Morricone's music, The Big Gundown, with Keith Rosenberg in the mid-1980s. Lyricists and poets have helped convert some of his melodies into a songbook.
  • Morricone collaborated with world music artists, like Portuguese fado singer Dulce Pontes (in 2003 with Focus, an album praised by Paulo Coelho and where his songbook can be sampled) and virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma (in 2004), who both recorded albums of Morricone classics with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra and Morricone himself conducting. The album Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone sold over 130,000 copies in 2004.
  • In 1990 the American singer Amii Stewart, best known for the 1979 disco hit "Knock On Wood", recorded a tribute album entitled Pearls – Amii Stewart Sings Ennio Morricone for the RCA label, including a selection of the composer's best-known songs. Since the mid-1980s Stewart resides in Italy, the Pearls album features Rome's Philharmonic Orchestra and was co-produced by Morricone himself.
  • Metallica uses Morricone's The Ecstasy of Gold as an intro at their concerts (shock jocks Opie and Anthony also use the song at the start of their XM Satellite Radio and CBS Radio shows.) The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra also played it on Metallica's Symphonic rock album S&M. The theme from A Fistful Of Dollars is also used as a concert intro by The Mars Volta.
  • The The Spaghetti Western Orchestra is Morricone's tribute band started in Australia. Anna Calvi has admitted Morricone's influence.
  • In 2007, the tribute album We All Love Ennio Morricone was released, featuring performances by various artists, including Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica.
  • Morricone inspired the namesake of Morricone Youth, a New York band dedicated to playing music from film and television, founded by musician and radio host Devon E. Levins. In addition to composers like Lalo Schifrin and Jerry Goldsmith, the band has performed music from a large spectrum of Morricone's film career, ranging from his work in the spaghetti westerns to The Exorcist II, as well as original Morricone-inspired pieces.
  • On their 2008 album Red of Tooth and Claw the independent rock band Murder by Death composed and included a song as a theme/tribute to Morricone entitled "Theme (for Ennio Morricone)".
  • British band Muse cites Morricone as an influence for the songs "City of Delusion", "Hoodoo", and "Knights of Cydonia" on their album Black Holes and Revelations. The band has recently started playing the song "Man With A Harmonica" live played by Chris Wolstenholme, as an intro to "Knights of Cydonia".
  • In January 2010, tenor Donald Braswell II released his album We Fall and We Rise Again on which he presented his tribute to Morricone with his original composition entitled "Ennio".
  • The score for The Thing 2011 prequel film composed by Marco Beltrami was inspired and uses several elements from Morricone's original soundtrack from the 1982 film of the same name.


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