The famous composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020 at the age of 91, leaving behind a work that even outshines the idea of ”productivity”. It’s not just that Morricone composed thousands of hours of music for hundreds of films. The fact is that he has managed to create so many original, indelible moments in such a wide variety of genres over and over again for so long without subjecting himself to repetition or impairing his creativity. The last, best consolation he can enjoy in his absence is the exciting – and quite intimidating – amount of music he has left us to rethink and more likely to discover as he continues his legacy over the coming days, weeks, Celebrates months and years.
Despite his seemingly constant presence in the film industry for more than 70 years, there are many details about Morricone̵
1. Ennio Morricone made 85 of his 91 years of music.
Ennio Morricone was encouraged to develop his natural musical skills at a young age – he created his first compositions at the age of 6. He was taught music by his father and learned several instruments, but put on the trumpet. When he was only 12, Morricone enrolled in a four-year program at the prestigious National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome, where he was born, and completed his studies within six months.
2. Ennio Morricone’s career focused mainly on film, television and radio compositions, but he also worked in pop music.
Morricone’s professional career began in 1950 as an arranger for jazz and pop artists. He helped compose hits for a variety of stars including Nora Orlandi, Mina, Françoise Hardy, Mireille Mathieu and Paul Anka, whose song “Ogni Volta” (“Every Time”) has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.
Morricone later worked with Pet Shop Boys, kd lang, Andrea Bocelli and Sting. From 1964 to 1980 he was also part of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Consonanza (or “The Group”), an ensemble that focuses on avant-garde improvisations. Although it was reissued a few years ago, original copies of their 1970 album The feedback fetched up to $ 1000 at the collectors’ market.
3. Ennio Morricone was successful as a composer – and never slowed down.
Many of Morricone’s first efforts in the films were as orchestrators for more established composers, but he quickly joined their ranks. Between 1955 and 1964 when he made his breakthrough for A handful of dollarsHe orchestrated or composed (or in some cases both) about 28 film scores. During this time he already worked with Michelangelo Antonioni (Adventure), Vittorio De Sica (The Last Judgement), Lucio Fulci (twice!), Lina Wertmüller (Basilisk) and Bernardo Bertolucci (Before the revolution).
4. Ennio Morricone helped turn A handful of dollars into a worldwide classic.
When Sergio Leone hired Morricone for his first Western, he had already embarked on an iconoclastic journey that related to Akira Kurosawas Yojimbo. Leone’s initial “concession” was to get Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for Howard Hawks Rio Bravo in his music. Morricone combined ideas from Tiomkin’s music with an arrangement of Peter Tevis’ cover of the Woody Guthrie song “Pastures of Plenty” to create the first cover story. The music won the Silver Ribbon Award for the best result of the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists and forged a longstanding partnership between Morricone and Leone.
5. During their heyday, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone worked in a way that was practically unprecedented outside of musicals.
The music in Leone’s films is also one of its most distinctive and inseparable features. Later in his career, Morricone stated that he often composed parts of the music for Leone’s films before filming began. Then scenes were staged and filmed to match the timing and rhythm of the composer’s music. “That’s why the movies are so slow,” joked Morricone in 2007. His use of so many unconventional instruments at the time, including electric guitars, mouth harps, and sound effects like gunshots, redefined the musical landscape of the genre, while Leone destroyed traditional morality stories to explore darker, more complex stories.
6. A handful of dollars produced awards for a lifetime.
Morricone won his only competitive Oscar just four years ago and had previously received an honorary Oscar in 2007. After receiving recognition from the Italian national syndicate of journalists, he collected hundreds of film academy nominations and awards (five more nominations)), the American Film Institute (four), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (six nominations, three victories), the Grammys ( five nominations and four awards, including the Grammy Hall of Fame and Trustees Prize) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (a Career Achievement Award and a win for his score for Once Upon a Time in America). It was somewhat predictable that much of the work he had done in “genre” films, even the celebrated “spaghetti westerns”, was marginalized at the time, but still adequately recognized and re-evaluated for their impact and artistry were.
7. Ennio Morricone was both a critical and a commercial success.
Morricone’s work with Leone raised his profile as an excellent filmmaker and gave him worldwide chart success. His score for The good the bad and the ugly sold more than 2 million copies and the soundtrack Once upon a time in the westIn his fourth collaboration with Leone, around 10 million copies were sold worldwide. It remains one of the five best-selling instrumental scores in the world. To date, Morricone has sold more than 70 million records worldwide.
8. Ennio Morricone’s partnership with Sergio Leone was exemplary, but he was not the only frequent collaborator with the composer.
From A handful of dollars to Once Upon a Time in AmericaLeone’s last film, he and Morricone always worked together. While working mainly in Italy, he often worked with Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento. After being courted by Hollywood, Morricone began building long-term partnerships with American and international filmmakers such as Brian De Palma, Warren Beatty, Samuel Fuller and Roland Joffe. In the late 1970s he worked with John Boorman and Terrence Malick, and in the 1980s and 1990s he worked regularly with John Carpenter, Barry Levinson, George Miller and Pedro Almodóvar.
From 1988 Morricone worked with Giuseppe Tornatore on the Oscar-winning Italian film Paradise cinemaand then worked on all other Tornatore films, including 2016 The correspondence and the director’s commercials for Dolce & Gabbana.
9. Quentin Tarantino campaigned for Ennio Morricone’s work before the two had ever worked together.
Quentin Tarantino’s films are always an exciting pastiche of past and present influences, and he has used Morricone score keywords in many of his films, starting with Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2nd. Initially, Tarantino hoped to be able to work with the composer Inglorious Basterds, but when the timing could not be clarified, the filmmaker used eight older Morricone tracks for the soundtrack.
Morricone composed the song “Ancora Qui” for Django Unchained, but it wasn’t until The hateful eight that he composed a score for Tarantino who was still using archive traces – namely some unpublished references from his score for John Carpenter’s The thing– to expand the musical background of the film. Morricone won his first Oscar for his work on Tarantino’s film in 2016 after being nominated six times in almost 40 years. Morricone also received an Honorary Oscar in 2007 “For his great and diverse contributions to the art of film music.”
10. Morricone’s discography remains an embarrassment of wealth – at least whatever is left of it.
Although the extent of the loss was not reported, Morricone’s was among the works that were reportedly destroyed by the 2008 fire on the Universal Backlot, where the company’s music group kept original recordings and master tapes from some of the world’s best-selling artists. But Morricone has recorded more than 400 film scores and more than 100 classic pieces over the course of his career, without the thousands of pieces that have been licensed for use. More and more of them have been restored and digitally released on CD and vinyl. In the meantime, his work continues to trigger as strong a response as the pictures for which it was originally written.
Yo-Yo Ma released an album of Morricone performances in 2004, which has sold more than 130,000 copies. His work re-tested and redefined the limits of film composition, what instruments could be used, and how music and images could work together to tell stories and create strong emotions. And every time these recordings are heard, whether transgressive experimentation, sharp drama or exuberant sentimentality, Morricone honors enormous talent and evokes his irreplaceable spirit.