Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone
Grand Officer OMRI

Morricone at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival
Background information
Birth name Ennio Morricone
Also known as Maestro, Dan Savio, Leo Nichols
Born (1928-11-10) 10 November 1928
Rome, Italy
  • Trumpet
  • piano
Years active 1946–present
Associated acts
Website enniomorricone.org
Notable instruments

Ennio Morricone's signature

Ennio Morricone, Grand Officer OMRI (Italian: [ˈɛnnjo morriˈkoːne]; born 10 November 1928) is an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and former trumpet player. He composes a wide range of music styles, making him one of the most versatile, experimental and influential composers of all time, working in any medium.[1] Since 1946 Morricone has composed over 500 scores for cinema and television, as well as over 100 classical works. His filmography includes over 70 award-winning films, including all Sergio Leone films since the Dollars Trilogy (such as Once Upon a Time in the West), all Giuseppe Tornatore films (since Cinema Paradiso), The Battle of Algiers, Dario Argento's Animal Trilogy, Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900, Exorcist II, Days of Heaven, several major films in French cinema, in particular the comedy trilogy La Cage aux Folles I, II, III and Le Professionnel, John Carpenter's The Thing, White Dog, The Mission, The Untouchables, Hamlet, Bugsy, In the Line of Fire, Wolf, Disclosure, Bulworth, Mission to Mars, Ripley's Game and The Hateful Eight.[2]

After playing the trumpet in jazz bands in the 1940s, he became a studio arranger for RCA and in 1955 started ghost writing for film and theatre. Throughout his career, he has composed music for artists such as Paul Anka, Mina, Milva, Zucchero and Andrea Bocelli. From 1960 to 1975, Morricone gained international fame for composing music for westerns. His score to 1966's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history[3] and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[4] With an estimated 10 million copies sold, Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the best-selling scores worldwide.[5] He also scored seven westerns for Sergio Corbucci, Duccio Tessari's Ringo duology and Sergio Sollima's The Big Gundown and Face to Face. Morricone worked extensively for other film genres with directors such as Mauro Bolognini, Giuliano Montaldo, Roland Joffé, Roman Polanski and Henri Verneuil. His acclaimed soundtrack for The Mission (1986)[6] was certified gold in the United States. The album Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone stayed 105 weeks on the Billboard Top Classical Albums.[7]

Morricone's best-known compositions include "The Ecstasy of Gold", "Se Telefonando", "Man with a Harmonica", "Here's to You", the UK No. 2 single "Chi Mai", "Gabriel's Oboe" and "E Più Ti Penso". He functioned during the period 1966–1980 as a main member of Il Gruppo, one of the first experimental composers collectives. In 1969, he co-founded Forum Music Village, a prestigious recording studio. From the 1970s, Morricone excelled in Hollywood, composing for prolific American directors such as Don Siegel, Mike Nichols, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone, Warren Beatty and Quentin Tarantino. In 1977, he composed the official theme for the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He continued to compose music for European productions, such as Marco Polo, La Piovra, Nostromo, Fateless, Karol and En mai, fais ce qu'il te plait. Morricone's music has been reused in television series, including The Simpsons and The Sopranos, and in many films, including Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.

As of 2013, Ennio Morricone has sold over 70 million records worldwide. In 1971, he received a "Targa d'Oro" for the worldwide sales of 22 million.[8] In 2007, he received the Academy Honorary Award "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." He has been nominated for a further six Oscars. In 2016, Morricone received his first Academy Award for his score to Quentin Tarantino's film The Hateful Eight (2015). His other achievements include three Grammy Awards, three Golden Globes, six BAFTAs, ten David di Donatello, eleven Nastro d'Argento, two European Film Awards, the Golden Lion Honorary Award and the Polar Music Prize in 2010.

Early life

Morricone was born in Rome, the son of Libera Ridolfi and Mario Morricone, a musician.[9] His family came from Arpino, near Frosinone. Morricone, who had four siblings, Adriana, Aldo, Maria and Franca, lived in Trastevere, in the centre of Rome, with his parents. Mario was a trumpet player who worked professionally in different light-music orchestras, while Libera set up a small textile business.[10]

Classical education

His first teacher was his father Mario Morricone, who taught him how to read music and also to play several instruments. Compelled to take up the trumpet, he entered the National Academy of St Cecilia, to take trumpet lessons under the guidance of Umberto Semproni.[11]

Goffredo Petrassi, Morricone's teacher

Morricone formally entered the conservatory in 1940 at age 12, enrolling in a four-year harmony program. He completed it within six months. He studied the trumpet, composition, and choral music, under direction of Goffredo Petrassi, who influenced him; Morricone has since dedicated his concert pieces to Petrassi. In 1941, Morricone was chosen among the students of the National Academy of St Cecilia to be a part of the Orchestra of the Opera directed by Carlo Zecchi on the occasion of a tour of "Veneto" (the region of Venice).[12] In 1946, he received his Diploma in Trumpet. After he graduated, he continued to work in classical composition and arrangement.

Although the composer had received the Diploma in Instrumentation for Band Arrangement (fanfare) with a mark of 9/10 in 1952, his studies concluded at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in 1954 and obtained a final 9.5/10 in his Diploma in Composition, under the composer Goffredo Petrassi.[13]

First compositions

Morricone wrote his first compositions when he was six years old and was encouraged to develop his natural talents.[14] In 1946, he composed "Il Mattino" ("The Morning") for voice and piano on a text by Fukuko, first in a group of seven "youth" Lieder.

In the following years, he continued to write music for the theatre as well as classical music for voice and piano, such as "Imitazione", based on a text by Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, "Intimità", based on a text by Olinto Dini, "Distacco I" and "Distacco II" with words by R. Gnoli, "Oboe Sommerso" for baritone and five instruments with words by poet Salvatore Quasimodo and "Verrà la Morte", for contralto and piano, based on a text by novelist Cesare Pavese.[15]



In 1953 Morricone 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 has always been 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.[16]

Morricone soon gained popularity by writing his first background music for radio dramas and quickly moved into film.[17]

Composing for radio, television and pop artists

Morricone's career as an arranger started in 1950, by arranging the piece Mamma Bianca (Narciso Parigi).[18] In occasion of the "Anno Santo" (Holy Year), he arranged a long group of popular songs of devotion for radio broadcasting.[19]

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 jazz and pop artists. In 1962 Morricone worked with American jazz singer Helen Merrill as an arranger on an EP "Helen Merrill sings Italian Songs" on the RCA Italiana label.[20] 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 (Come te non-ce nessuno and 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).[21][22]

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.[23]

"Se telefonando"
Sample from "Se telefonando".

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Another particular success was his composition, "Se telefonando."[24] Performed by Mina, it was a standout track of Studio Uno 66, the fifth-biggest-selling album of the year 1966 in Italy.[25] 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 No. 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).[26] 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.[27]

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.[28]

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, Alessandro Cicognini 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.[29]

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.[30]

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.

The Group and New Consonance

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."[31]

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.[32]

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[33] 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).[34]

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 and seventies he composed the scores for comedies such as Diciottenni al sole (1962), Il Successo (1963), Lina Wertmüller's I basilischi (1963),[29] Slalom (1965), Menage all'italiana (1965), How I Learned to Love Women (1966), L'harem (1967), A Fine Pair (1968), L'Alibi (1969), Questa specie d'amore (1972), Forza "G" (1972) and Fiorina la vacca (1972).

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.[35]

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 Duello nel Texas (aka Gunfight at Red Sands) (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 Bullets Don't Argue).[36]

Association with Sergio Leone

The turning point in Morricone's career took place in 1964, the year in which his third child, Andrea Morricone, who would also become 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

Because 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 à 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.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly main theme

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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.[37] The film debuted in the United States in January 1967, where it grossed US$4.5 million for the year.[37] It eventually grossed $14.5 million in its American release,[37] against its budget of US$200–250,000.[38][39]

With the score of A Fistful of Dollars, Morricone began his 20-year collaboration with his childhood friend Alessandro Alessandroni and his Cantori Moderni.[40] 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".

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 US$1.2 million, but it became the most successful film of the Dollars Trilogy, grossing US$25.1 million 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 14 August 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.[41]

The main theme of For a Few Dollars More ("Per Qualche Dollaro in Più") was covered by Hugo Montenegro ("For a Few Dollars More"),[42] Babe Ruth ("Theme From a Few Dollars More"),[43] Golden Palominos ("For A Few Dollars More"),[44] Material ("For a Few Dollars More"),[45] and Matti Heinivaho ("Arosusi").[46] More recently, a Techno-Industrial cover was done by Komor Kommando ("Hasta Luego"). A remix was done by Terranova, "For a Few Dollars More (Terranova Remix)".[47]

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.[48] In the United States, the album was certified gold by the RIAA on 9 September 1969.[49] The main theme was later sampled by artists such as Cameo ("Word Up!"), Bomb the Bass and LL Cool J.[50]

"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[51][52] 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".[53]

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[54][55] in France and over 800,000 copies[56] in the Netherlands.[57][58] 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.[59] This theme was later sampled in popular songs such as Beats International's "Dub Be Good to Me"[60] (1990) and The Orb's ambient single "Little Fluffy Clouds" (1990).[61] 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).[62]

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 30 April 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 US$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.[63] The film has yet to go into production and Morricone has been cagey thus far as to details on account of Tornatore's superstitious nature.[64]

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), Sonny and Jed (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) and Run, Man, Run! (1968), as well as the 1970 crime thriller Violent City (with Charles Bronson) and the poliziottesco film Revolver (1973).

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), Seven Guns for the MacGregors (1966), The Hills Run Red (1966), Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse (1967) and Tepepa (1968), A Bullet for the General (1967), 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), Life Is Tough, Eh Providence? (1972) 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)

Morricone in 2007

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), Giuliano Montaldo (Sacco e Vanzetti, 1971), Giuseppe Patroni Griffi ('Tis Pity She's a Whore, 1971), Mauro Bolognini (Drama of the Rich, 1974), Umberto Lenzi (Almost Human, 1974), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, 1975), Bernardo Bertolucci (Novecento, 1976) and Tinto Brass (The Key, 1983).

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.[65] The song was later included in movies such as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou[66] 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),[67] as well as the TV series, An Englishman's Castle (1978) and The Life and Times of David Lloyd George (1981).[68] Because of its appearance on the latter, "Chi Mai" reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1981.[69] The single was certified by the BPI with a golden record on 1 May 1981[70] and sold over 900,000 copies in France alone.[71] "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.[72]

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.[73][74]

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), Chronicle of a Homicide (1972), Libera, My Love (1973), Per le antiche scale (1975), La Dame aux camelias (1980), Mosca addio (1987), Gli indifferenti (1988) and Husband and Lovers (1992).

Horror and giallo 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) and The Phantom of the Opera (1998). His other horror scores include Nightmare Castle (1965), A Quiet Place in the Country (1968), The Antichrist (1974), Autopsy (1975) and Night Train Murders (1975).

In addition, Morricone's music has also been featured in many popular and cult Italian giallo films, such as Senza sapere niente di lei (1969), Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970), A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971), Cold Eyes of Fear (1971), The Fifth Cord (1971), Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971), My Dear Killer (1972), What Have You Done to Solange? (1972), Black Belly of the Tarantula (1972), Who Saw Her Die? (1972) and Spasmo (1974).

In 1977 Morricone scored Alberto De Martino's apocalyptic horror film Holocaust 2000, starring Kirk Douglas. In 1982 he composed the score for John Carpenter's science fiction horror movie The Thing.[75] 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.[76]

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.[77]

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. The same year the composer also delivered the title theme The Men from Shiloh for the American Western television series The Virginian[78] and the score for Phil Karlson's war film Hornets' Nest, starring Rock Hudson, and scored Bluebeard, starring Richard Burton, two years later.

In 1974 Morricone wrote music for some unknown episodes of the science-fiction television series Space: 1999, directed by Lee H. Katzin, and the following year he scored the George Kennedy revenge thriller The 'Human' Factor, which was the final film of director Edward Dmytryk. Two 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 US$30,749,142 in the United States,[79] turning a profit but still disappointing in comparison to the original film's gross. The same year he scored the Dino De Laurentiis produced adventure film Orca, starring Richard Harris, which was also only a minor hit but later developed a cult following.

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 Williams' Superman: The Movie at the Oscar ceremonies in 1979.[80]

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, Matt Cimber's film Butterfly (1982), starring Pia Zadora, 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.

The Mission main theme – Gabriel's Oboe
From The Mission film score

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1986 onwards: from The Mission to The Hateful Eight

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.[81][82]

Morricone finally received a second Oscar nomination for The Mission.[83] 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.[84] 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!"[85] 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.[84] The score is ranked 23rd on the AFI's list of 25 greatest film scores of all time.[86]

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).[75] 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."[85]

Another American director, Barry Levinson, commissioned the composer on two occasions. First, for the crime-drama Bugsy, starring Warren Beatty, which received ten Oscar nominations,[87] winning two for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Dennis Gassner, Nancy Haigh) and Best Costume Design.[88]

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.[89]

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[90] crime film State of Grace by Phil Joanou (1990, starring Sean Penn and Ed Harris), Rampage (1992) by William Friedkin, and the romantic drama Love Affair (1994) by Warren Beatty.

None of the aforementioned films were box office successes, but fortunately Morricone was also commissioned 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 1997, 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 with Michael Kamen.[91]

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 Morricone's music for several of his films. 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 inattesa"), 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.[92][93] Morricone was unable to, because the film's sped-up production schedule conflicted with his scoring of Giuseppe Tornatore's Baarìa.[94] 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).[95][96]

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.[97] On 4 January 2013 Morricone presented Tarantino with a Life Achievement Award at a special ceremony being cast as a continuation of the International Rome Film Festival.[98] In 2014, Morricone claimed that he would "never work" with Tarantino again,[99] but later agreed to write an original film score for Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, which won an Academy Award in 2016 in the Best Original Score category. His nomination for this film marks him as the second oldest nominee in Academy history, behind Gloria Stuart. Morricone's win marked his first competitive Oscar, and at the age of 87 he became the oldest person to win a competitive Oscar.

In 2014, Morricone's song "Giù La Testa" featured in Florian Habicht's feature film Pulp: a Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets, an unconventional rockumentary about British group Pulp which premiered at SXSW that year.

Frequent composer for Giuseppe Tornatore

In 1988 Morricone started an ongoing 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[100] 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), The Best Offer (2013) starring Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland and the romantic drama The Correspondence (2015) starring Jeremy Irons and Olga Kurylenko.

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.[101]

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).[102]

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.[103][104] 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.[105]

In spring and summer 2010, Morricone worked with Hayley Westenra for a collaboration on her album Paradiso.[106] The album features new songs written by Morricone, as well as some of his best-known film compositions of the last 50 years.[107][108] Hayley recorded the album with Morricone's orchestra in Rome during the summer of 2010.[109][110][111]

Since 1995, he composed the music for several advertising campaigns of Dolce & Gabbana. The commercials were directed by Giuseppe Tornatore.[112]

In 2013, Morricone collaborated with Italian singer-songwriter Laura Pausini on a new version of her hit single "La solitudine" for her 20 years anniversary greatest hits album 20 – The Greatest Hits.

Morricone composed the music for The Best Offer (2013) by Giuseppe Tornatore.[113]

In 2014, Ennio Morricone became a Honorary chairman of the First International Open Competition in author's music video "Mediamusic." The final of the competition was scheduled on 1 March 2015 in Moscow.

He wrote the score for Christian Carion's En mai, fais ce qu'il te plait (2015) and the most recent movie by Tornatore: The Correspondence (2016), featuring Jeremy Irons and Olga Kurylenko.[114]

In July 2015, Quentin Tarantino announced after the screening of footage of his movie The Hateful Eight at the San Diego Comic-Con International that Morricone would score the film, the first Western that Morricone has scored since 1981.[115] The score was critically acclaimed and won several awards including the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Orchestrating, conducting and live performing

Ennio Morricone (2015) in the Festhalle Frankfurt

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.[116] 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.[117]

On 20 September 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.[118] Michel Legrand and Georges Delerue performed on the same evening.[119]

On 15 October 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.[120][121] A live-album with a recording of this concert was released in the same year.[122][123]

On 9 June 2000 Morricone went to the Flanders International Film Festival Ghent to conduct his music together with the National Orchestra of Belgium.[124][125] 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.[126]

Morricone performed over 200 concerts as of 2001.[127] 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 1 & 2 December 2006.

Ennio Morricone at the United Nations Headquarters

He made his North American concert debut on 29 January 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 12 December 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 17 and 18 October 2008. Morricone and Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta also held a concert at the Belgrade Arena (Belgrade, Serbia) on 14 February 2009.

On 10 April 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 27 August 2010 he conducted a concert in Hungary, and on 11 September in Verona.

On 26 February 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 2 March 2012 he conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at Elder Park, Adelaide as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts.

On 22 December 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.[128]

In November 2013 Morricone began a world tour to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his film music career and performed in locations such as the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Santiago, Chile, Berlin, Germany (O2 World), Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna (Stadhalle). Back in June 2014, Morricone had to cancel a U.S tour in New York (Barclays Center) and Los Angeles (Nokia Theatre LA Live) due to a back procedure on 20 February. Morricone postponed the rest of his world tour.

In November 2014 Morricone stated that he will resume his European tour starting from February 2015.[129]

Forum Music Village

Main article: 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.[130]

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, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Will.i.am, Yo-Yo Ma, Morrissey, Bruno Nicolai, Alessandro Alessandroni, Goblin, Pino Donaggio, Nicola Piovani, Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi and Cher.[131]

Personal life

On 13 October 1956 he married Maria Travia, whom he had met in 1950. 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.

Morricone has lived in Italy his entire life and has never desired to live in Hollywood. Morricone is also not fluent in English and will only take interviews in his native language.[132][133]

Legacy and influence

Ennio Morricone has influenced many artists from other styles and genres, including Danger Mouse,[134] Dire Straits,[135] Muse,[136] Metallica,[137] Radiohead[138] and Hans Zimmer.[139]

Artists who have covered or sampled Morricone's compositions include:[156]

Film composers

Jazz musicians/singers

Classical musicians/singers

Pop artists

Rock artists

Hip hop/Soul/Reggae artists

Electronic/Dance artists

MPB artists


Worldwide sales

Ennio Morricone has sold well over 70 million records worldwide during his career that spanned over seven decades,[157][158] including 6.5 million albums and singles in France,[159] over three million in the United States and more than two million albums in Korea.[160] In 1971, the composer received his first golden record (disco d'oro) for the sale of 1,000,000 records in Italy[161][162] and a "Targa d'Oro" for the worldwide sales of 22 million.[8]

Top worldwide film grosses

Ennio Morricone has been involved with at least 19 different movies grossing over US$20 million at the box office[163]

Year Title Director Gross (US$)
1965 For a Few Dollars More Sergio Leone 21,780,305
1966 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Sergio Leone 25,100,000*
1977 Exorcist II: The Heretic John Boorman 30,749,142*
1978 La Cage aux Folles Édouard Molinaro 25,000,000[164]
1982 The Thing John Carpenter 25,000,000
1984 Once Upon a Time in America Sergio Leone 30,555,873
1986 The Mission Roland Joffé 37,134,545[165]
1987 The Untouchables Brian De Palma 106,240,936[166]
1988 Frantic Roman Polanski 26,000,000
1989 Cinema Paradiso Giuseppe Tornatore 20,000,000
1990 Hamlet Franco Zeffirelli 20,710,451*
1991 Bugsy Barry Levinson 49,114,016*
1993 In the Line of Fire Wolfgang Petersen 176,997,168
1994 Wolf Mike Nichols 131,002,597
1994 Disclosure Barry Levinson 214,015,089
1998 Bulworth Warren Beatty 29,202,884
2000 Mission to Mars Brian De Palma 110,983,407
2013 The Best Offer Giuseppe Tornatore 20,489,700[167][168]
2015 The Hateful Eight Quentin Tarantino 155,760,117[169]

" * " = US-only figures. Other successful movies with Morricone's work are La Luna (1979), Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2 (2003, 2004), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained[170] (2012) though the tracks used are sampled from older pictures.

Selected long-time collaborations with directors

Director Period No. of films Film genre(s) Film titles
Mauro Bolognini (°1922–2001) 1967–91 15 historical / drama / documentary including Le streghe, L'assoluto naturale, Un bellissimo novembre, Metello, The Venetian Woman and Farewell Moscow
Alberto Negrin (°1940–) 1987–2013 13 crime / historic / drama including The Secret of the Sahara, Voyage of Terror: The Achille Lauro Affair and Il Cuore nel Pozzo
Giuseppe Tornatore (°1956–) 1988–present 13 historical / drama / documentary / advertising campaigns including Cinema Paradiso, The Legend of 1900, Malèna, Baaria and The Best Offer
Giuliano Montaldo (°1930–) 1967–present 12 crime / historic / drama including Grand Slam, Sacco e Vanzetti, A Dangerous Toy, Marco Polo and Tempo di uccidere
Luciano Salce (°1922–1989) 1959–66 11 comedy / drama / historical including Il Federale, El Greco, Slalom and Come imparai ad amare le donne
Aldo Lado (°1934–) 1971–81 9 mystery / thriller including Chi l'ha vista morire?, Sepolta viva, L'ultimo treno della notte and L'umanoide
Roberto Faenza (°1943–) 1968–95 8 crime / horror / historical including Escalation, Si salvi chi vuole, Copkiller and Sostiene Pereira
Sergio Leone (°1929–1989) 1964–84 8 western / crime including the Dollars Trilogy, Once Upon a Time in the West, Duck, You Sucker!, My Name Is Nobody and Once Upon a Time in America
Sergio Corbucci (°1927–1990) 1966–72 7 western / comedy including Navajo Joe, The Hellbenders, The Mercenary, The Great Silence, Compañeros and Sonny and Jed
Alberto De Martino (°1929–2015) 1966–72 7 crime / war / horror including Dirty Heroes, O.K. Connery and Holocaust 2000
Pier Paolo Pasolini (°1922–1975) 1965–1975 7 mystery / historical including The Hawks and the Sparrows, Teorema, The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, Arabian Nights and Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
Elio Petri (°1929–1982) 1968–79 7 crime / horror / historical including A Quiet Place in the Country, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, The Working Class Goes to Heaven and Todo modo
Dario Argento (°1940–) 1968–98 6 horror / gangster / thriller including The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat o' Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Stendhal Syndrome and The Phantom of the Opera
Carlo Lizzani (°1922–2013) 1965–76 6 comedy / crime / drama including Thrilling, Svegliati e uccidi, The Hills Run Red and San Babila-8 P.M.
Sergio Sollima (°1921–2015) 1966–73 6 western / crime / thriller including The Big Gundown, Faccia a faccia, Run, Man, Run!, Città violenta and Revolver
Henri Verneuil (°1920–2002) 1968–1979 6 thriller / crime La Bataille de San Sebastian, Le clan des siciliens, Le Casse, Le Serpent and Peur sur la ville
Giulio Petroni (°1917–2010) 1968–79 6 western / comedy including Tepepa, A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof and Death Rides a Horse
Bernardo Bertolucci (°1940–) 1964–81 5 drama / historical including Before the Revolution, Partner, Novecento and Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man
Pasquale Festa Campanile (°1927–1986) 1967–80 5 comedy / crime including The Girl and the General, When Women Had Tails, Hitch-Hike and Il ladrone
Damiano Damiani (°1922–2013) 1960–75 5 drama / thriller / western including The Most Beautiful Wife, The Case Is Closed, Forget It and A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe
Quentin Tarantino (°1963) 2001–present 6 action / thriller / western Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained*[99] and The Hateful Eight
Duccio Tessari (°1926–1994) 1965–90 5 western / action / adventure including A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo

Prizes and awards

Academy Awards

Ennio Morricone received his first Academy Award nomination in 1979 for the score to Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978).[83]

In 1984, the U.S. distributor of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America reportedly failed to file the proper paperwork so that Morricone's score, regarded as one of his best, would be eligible for consideration for an Academy Award.

Two years later, Morricone received his second Oscar nomination for The Mission.[83] He also received Oscar nominations for his scores to The Untouchables (1987), Bugsy (1991), Malèna (2000), and The Hateful Eight (2016).[83] On 28 February 2016, Morricone won his first Academy Award for his score to The Hateful Eight.[171]

Year Director Project Category Result
1979 Terrence Malick Days of Heaven Best Original Score Nominated
1986 Roland Joffé The Mission Best Original Score Nominated
1987 Brian De Palma The Untouchables Best Original Score Nominated
1991 Barry Levinson Bugsy Best Original Score Nominated
2000 Giuseppe Tornatore Malèna Best Original Score Nominated
2007 Honorary Academy Award Won
2016 Quentin Tarantino The Hateful Eight Best Original Score Won

Morricone and Alex North are the only composers to receive the Honorary Oscar since the award's introduction in 1928.[172] Ennio Morricone received the honorary Academy Award on 25 February 2007, presented by Clint Eastwood, "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." With the statuette came a standing ovation.[173] In conjunction with the honor, Morricone released a tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone, that featured as its centerpiece Celine Dion's rendition of "I Knew I Loved You" (based on "Deborah's Theme" from Once Upon a Time in America), which she performed at the ceremony. Behind-the-scenes studio production and recording footage of "I Knew I Loved You" can be viewed in the debut episode of the QuincyJones.com Podcast.[174] The lyric, as with Morricone's Love Affair, had been written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Morricone's acceptance speech was in his native Italian tongue and was interpreted by Clint Eastwood, who stood to his left. Eastwood and Morricone had in fact met two days earlier for the first time in 40 years at a reception.


In 2005 four film scores by Ennio Morricone were nominated by the American Film Institute for an honoured place in the AFI's Top 25 of Best American Film Scores of All Time.[175] His score for The Mission was ranked 23rd in the Top 25 list.[176]

Year Director Project Category Result
1968 Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in the West Top 25 Best American Film Scores of All Time Nominated
1984 Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in America Top 25 Best American Film Scores of All Time Nominated
1986 Roland Joffé The Mission Top 25 Best American Film Scores of All Time Won
1987 Brian De Palma The Untouchables Top 25 Best American Film Scores of All Time Nominated

Golden Globes

Year Director Project Category Result
1982 Matt Cimber Butterfly Best Original Song for "It's Wrong For Me To Love You" (with Carol Connors) Nominated
1985 Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in America Best Original Score Nominated
1987 Roland Joffé The Mission Best Original Score Won
1988 Brian De Palma The Untouchables Best Original Score Nominated
1990 Brian De Palma Casualties of War Best Original Score Nominated
1992 Barry Levinson Bugsy Best Original Score Nominated
2000 Giuseppe Tornatore Legend of 1900 Best Original Score Won
2001 Giuseppe Tornatore Malèna Best Original Score Nominated
2015 Quentin Tarantino The Hateful Eight Best Original Score Won

Italian Golden Globes

Year Director Project Category Result
1993 Roberto Faenza Jona Che Visse Nella Balena Best Original Score Nominated
1993 Margarethe von Trotta Il Lungo Silenzio Best Original Score Won
1994 Giuseppe Tornatore A Pure Formality Best Original Score Nominated
2000 Ricky Tognazzi Canone Inverso Best Original Score Nominated
2013 Giuseppe Tornatore The Best Offer Best Original Score Nominated

Grammy Awards

Morricone was nominated five times for a Grammy Award. In 2009 The Recording Academy inducted his score for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[177]

Year Director Project Category Result
1988 Brian De Palma The Untouchables Best Original Score Won
1995 Mike Nichols Wolf Best Original Score Nominated
1997 Giuseppe Tornatore The Star Maker Best Original Score Nominated
1999 Warren Beatty Bulworth Best Original Score Nominated
2007 Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in the West Best Instrumental Performance Won
2009 Sergio Leone The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Grammy Hall of Fame Won
2014[178] NA Career achievements Grammy Trustees Award Won

Nastro d'Argento (Silver Ribbon)

Year Director Project Category Result
1964 Sergio Leone A Fistful of Dollars Best Original Score Won
1970 Giuseppe Patroni Griffi Metti una sera a cena Best Original Score Won
1972 Giuliano Montaldo Sacco e Vanzetti Best Original Score Won
1985 Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in America' Best Original Score Won
1988 Brian De Palma The Untouchables Best Original Score Won
1999 Giuseppe Tornatore Legend of 1900 Best Original Score Won
2000 Ricky Tognazzi Canone Inverso Best Original Score Won
2001 Giuseppe Tornatore Malèna Best Original Score Nominated
2004 Giovanni Morricone Al Cuore Si Comanda Best Original Score Nominated
2007 Giuseppe Tornatore La Sconosciuta Best Original Score Won
2008 Giuliano Montaldo I Demoni di San Pietroburgo Best Original Score Won
2010 Giuseppe Tornatore Baaria Best Original Score Won
2013 Giuseppe Tornatore The Best Offer Best Original Score Won

ASCAP Awards

Year Director Project Category Result
1988 Brian De Palma The Untouchables Best Original Score Won
1994 Wolfgang Petersen In the Line of Fire Best Original Score Won
1994 NA Career Life Achievement Award Won
1995 Mike Nichols Wolf Best Original Score Won

BAFTA Awards

Year Director Project Category Result
1980 Terrence Malick Days of Heaven Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music Won
1985 Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in America Best Original Score Won
1987 Roland Joffé The Mission Best Original Score Won
1988 Brian De Palma The Untouchables Best Original Score Won
1991 Giuseppe Tornatore Cinema Paradiso Best Original Score Won
2016 Quentin Tarantino The Hateful Eight Best Original Score Won

César Awards

Year Director Project Category Result
1980 Henri Verneuil I... comme Icare Best Original Score Nominated
1980 Georges Lautner Le Professionnel Best Original Score Nominated
2016 Christian Carion En mai, fais ce qu'il te plaît Best Original Score Nominated

David Award

Year Director Project Category Result
1981 Mauro Bolognini The Lady of the Camellias Best Original Score Nominated
1981 Carlo Verdone Bianco, rosso e Verdone Best Original Score Nominated
1988 Giuliano Montaldo Gli Occhiali d'Oro Best Original Score Won
1989 Giuseppe Tornatore Cinema Paradiso Best Original Score Won
1990 Roberto Faenza Mio Caro Dottor Gräsler Best Original Song Nominated
1990 Giuseppe Tornatore Stanno Tutti Bene Best Original Score Won
1993 Roberto Faenza Jona Che Visse Nella Balena Best Original Score Won
1993 Ricky Tognazzi The Escort Best Original Score Nominated
1996 Giuseppe Tornatore The Star Maker Best Original Score Nominated
1999 Giuseppe Tornatore Legend of 1900 Best Original Score Won
2000 Ricky Tognazzi Canone Inverso Best Original Score Won
2001 Giuseppe Tornatore Malèna Best Original Score Nominated
2006 NA Career 50th Anniversary David Won
2007 Giuseppe Tornatore La Sconosciuta Best Original Score Won
2010 Giuseppe Tornatore Baarìa Best Original Score Won
2013 Giuseppe Tornatore The Best Offer Best Original Score Won
2016 Giuseppe Tornatore The Correspondence Best Composer Nominated

European Film Awards

Year Director Project Category Result
1999 NA Career Lifetime Achievement Award Won
2006 Lajos Koltai Fateless Best Composer Nominated
2013 Giuseppe Tornatore The Best Offer Best Composer Won
2013 Giuseppe Tornatore The Best Offer Best Composer Won


Year Director Project Category Result
1984 Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in America Best Original Score Won
1986 Roland Joffé The Mission Best Original Score 2nd Place
2001 NA Career Career Achievement Award Won
2015 Quentin Tarantino The Hateful Eight Best Original Score 2nd Place

Selected other awards

  • 1967: Diapason d'Or
  • 1969: Premio Spoleto Cinema
  • 1972: Cork Film International for La califfa
  • 1979: Premio Vittorio de Sica
  • 1981: Premio della critica discografica for Il prato
  • 1984: Premio Zurlini
  • 1985: Nastro d'argento and BAFTA for Once Upon A Time in America
  • 1986: Premio Vittorio de Sica
  • 1988: Ninth Annual Ace Winner for Il Giorno prima
  • 1989: Pardo d'Oro alla carriera Locarno Film Festival
  • 1990: Prix Fondation Sacem del XLIII Cannes Film Festival for Nuovo Cinema Paradiso
  • 1992: Pentagramma d'oro
  • 1992: Premio Michelangelo
  • 1992: Grolla d'oro alla carriera (Saint Vincent)
  • 1993: Efebo d'Argento for Jonas che visse nella balena
  • 1993: Globo d'oro Stampa estera in Italia
  • 1993: Gran Premio SACEM audiovisivi
  • 1994: ASCAP Golden Soundtrack Award (Los Angeles)
  • 1994: 7 d'Or "Best Music" for La piovra 5 – Il cuore del problema
  • 1995: Premio Rota
  • 1995: Golden Lion Honorary Award by the Venice Film Festival
  • 1996: Premio città di Roma
  • 1996: Premio Cappelli
  • 1996: Premio Accademia di Santa Cecilia
  • 1997: Premio Flaiano
  • 1998: Columbus Prize
  • 1999: Erich Wolfgang Korngold Internationaler Preis für Film
  • 1999: 'European Film Academy lifetime achievement award'
  • 2000: Honorary Degree by the University of Cagliari
  • 2001: Mikeldi de Honor at "Zinebi – International Festival of Documentary and Short Films" of Bilbao
  • 2002: Honorary Degree by the "Seconda Università" of Rome
  • 2003: Golden Eagle Award by the Russian National Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences of Russia for 72 Meters (film)
  • 2003: Honorary Senator of the Filmscoring Class of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München
  • 2006: Grand Officer OMRI, nominated by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
  • 2007: The Film & TV Music Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • 2008–Pablo Neruda award, Chile's highest award for the arts
  • 2008: Knight of the Legion of Honour
  • 2009: Medal of Merits for Macedonia[179]
  • 2009: America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation
  • 2010: Polar Music Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of the Arts
  • 2013: Special Award for Career Achievement at the Online Film Critics Society Awards
  • 2013: Honoris Causa honorary academic degree at New Bulgarian University[180]

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Further reading

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