Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone Headshot

Composer • Conductor • Musician

Birth Date: November 10, 1928

Death Date: July 6, 2020

Birth Place: Rome, Italy

One of the most celebrated and influential film composers in the history of the medium, Ennio Morricone penned the iconic themes for such films as "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" (1967), "Days of Heaven" (1978), "The Mission" (1986), "The Untouchables" (1987) and "Cinema Paradiso" (1988).

The "spaghetti Westerns" of Sergio Leone and others helped introduce Morricone to global audiences, and his music - an arresting blend of orchestra, folk instruments, elements of pop and rock music and a wall of offbeat sounds ranging from vocal choruses to clanging bells, gunshots and whip cracks - helped to make him an international sensation. Morricone was adept at nearly every musical approach, from wistful melodies in "Paradiso" and "Bugsy" (1992) to thunderous suspense in "The Untouchables" to jazz, swing, bossa nova, proto-electronica, rock and avant-garde. In the five decades of his busy career, he garnered countless admirers and devoted imitators, all of whom paid fervent tribute to a composer whose talents were vast, far-reaching and altogether timeless.

Even late in his career, Morricone was acclaimed as one of the greats, winning an Academy Award for his score to Quentin Tarantino's western drama "The Hateful Eight" (2015).

Born Nov. 10, 1928 in Rome, Italy, he was the son of Mario Morricone, a jazz trumpeter, whose love of music clearly translated to his child. He took up his father's instrument at nine and began formal training in composition and choral music at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia at age 12.

Various reports cite his talents as so prodigious at this point that he completed the four-year course in either six months or two years. After graduation, he continued to work in classic composition and arrangement, though his studies were frequently interrupted by the chaos and horror of World War II, which saw Rome subjected to frequent bombings by Allied forces.

In the years following the war, he began composing music for radio dramas. He also supported himself as a jazz trumpeter and pop music arranger; first for the Italian state public broadcaster RAI, and later for RCA. Morricone's pop arrangements featured the dramatic and eclectic flare that he brought to his film scores with blasts of brassy trumpets, wall-to-wall vocal choruses, twangy, surf-style guitar and soaring leads.

In the early 1960s, Morricone branched out into film scoring. His early efforts were largely traditional affairs, following the orchestral sweep of American and European composers. Even his Westerns (prior to 1964) were solid if unremarkable in their scoring.

However, an arrangement of an American folk song caught the attention of director Sergio Leone - a former schoolmate of Morricone's - that heard exactly what he wanted for his directorial debut, a Western starring American actor Clint Eastwood. The film was "Fistful of Dollars" (1964), and the film would revolutionize the Western genre and world cinema in general with its operatic violence, mile-wide vistas and hyper-stylized production.

Morricone's score matched Leone's vision in every way, blending folk instruments like jaw harps and harmonicas with stinging Fender guitar lines and a relentlessly chanting male vocal chorus. The music did not play under the scene, but was rather an inherent part of the film itself, unsettling the audience in tense moments, goosing a laugh in others. It was quite unlike any other movie score heard prior to "Fistful," and it launched Morricone's career as a world-class composer.

In the tradition of most European filmmakers wishing their pictures to have international audiences, Leone and Morricone signed their names on "Fistful" with Anglicized pseudonyms - Leone was "Leo Nichols," while Morricone was "Dan Savio." The international success of "Fistful," however, made such smoke screens unnecessary for future projects.

Morricone would score all of Leone's directorial efforts, which included "For a Few Dollars More" (1965), the sequel to "Fistful," as well as his masterpieces, "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" (1967) and "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1969). The popularity of these films made Morricone an in-demand composer for other Italian and European directors, many of whom hoped that a score by him would translate into similar box office results.

By 1965, Morricone was writing and composing music for up to 10 movies a year in all genres - from other "spaghetti Westerns" and horror films to spy pictures, dramas, caper films, comedies and virtually everything in between.

He soon developed working relationships with directors similar to the one he enjoyed with Leone, including the controversial Pier Paolo Pasolini with "Teorema" (1968) and "The Decameron" (1971); Bernardo Bertolucci with "Before the Revolution" (1964); and horror auteur Dario Argento with "The Cat O'Nine Tails" (1971). Other notable projects during the 1960s and early 1970s included Gillo Pontecorvo's "Battle of Algiers" (1966) and "Burn!" (1968); Mario Bava's comic book tribute "Danger: Diabolik" (1968); Giuliano Montaldo's "Machine Gun McCain" (1969); Henri Verneuil's "The Sicilian Clan" (1969) and Elio Petri's "Investigation of a Citizen Under Suspicion" (1969).

Amazingly, Morricone rarely repeated himself, despite the sheer number of films he worked on at a single time; there were recurring motifs, like his vocal choruses or brass and string passages, but those who followed Morricone's work saw him experiment with, and often times master genres of pop, rock, classical, avant-garde and even electronic music in his scores.

His invaluable partners in most of these films were conductor Bruno Nicolai and the Cantori Moderni, a vocal group led by childhood friend Alessandro Alessandroni, whose whistle and guitar work were major elements of Morricone's work.

Moderni singer Edda dell'Orso was also a key player; her soaring, operatic soprano was as much a part of Morricone's orchestra as the brass and woodwinds.

Arguably, his greatest score of the period, and the one that would come to define Morricone's style, was for Leone's "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly." A brawny, sprawling Western epic that concluded his three films about Clint Eastwood's cynical "Man with No Name," the film's main title was an astonishing three-minute distillation of Morricone's genre efforts from the 1960s.

As Alessandroni's whistle and the Moderni's voice imitate howling winds and animal cries, a barrage of instruments and noises - from whip cracks and guitars to thundering percussion - led a veritable cavalry charge on the listener's senses. The theme, as well as the sonic overdrive of "The Ecstasy of Gold," which underscores the final showdown between Eastwood and co-stars Lee Van Cleef (the Bad) and Eli Wallach (the Ugly), came to define cinematic toughness and conflict for the next 40 years.

The theme also became a massive hit on the pop charts for both Morricone and Hugo Montenegro, who released a version in 1968.

Morricone's fame began to attract the attention of Hollywood in the late 1960s when producer Dino De Laurentiis hired him to score 20th Century Fox's production of "The Bible: In the Beginning" (1966).

However, his music would not grace a film made in North America until 1971's "Two Mules for Sister Sara," a Clint Eastwood Western directed by Don Siegel. It would not be until the late '70s when he would find regular work in the American film industry, beginning in 1977 with his haunting, African-influenced music for John Boorman's ill-fated "Exorcist II: The Heretic."

A year later, he rebounded with one of his most stately and gorgeous orchestral scores for Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven" (1978). The film would garner his first Academy Award nomination, and was a highlight of a decade marked by typical eclecticism: Morricone's '70s output included everything from Bertolucci's "1900," Pasolini's heart-stopping "Salo" (1975) and the original "La cage aux folles" (1978) to B-pictures like "Orca" (1977) and even episodes of "Space: 1999" (ITC, 1975-77).

The 1980s saw Morricone as busy as ever, but producing some of his most enduring work since the 1960s. He recorded his final collaboration with Leone for 1984's "Once Upon a Time in America," the director's ill-fated gangster epic that brought his storied career to an ignoble close.

In its wake, however, he struck fresh and fertile relationships with such directors as Roland Joffe, Giuseppe Tornatore and Brian De Palma. Each of these collaborations yielded impressive results: his score for Joffe's "The Mission" (1986), which blended South American traditional folk music with Western liturgical motifs, was a substantial hit on the pop charts and earned him a second Oscar nomination.

A third Academy Award nod came the following year for his edgy, electric music for De Palma's "The Untouchables" (1987). "Cinema Paradiso" (1988) for Tornatore, emphasized his effortless ability to compose emotionally moving and memorable film music after three decades and literally hundreds of scores.

He would reunite with all three directors through the decade and into the 1990s on films like "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989), "City of Joy" (1992) and "Everybody's Fine" (1990). Morricone also scored a considerable pop hit with "Chi Mai," a composition originally recorded for 1971's "Maddelena," but used to great effect in 1981's "Le Professionnel" and the BBC Wales drama "The Life and Times of David Lloyd George" (1982).

The 1990s saw Morricone working regularly with such directors as Barry Levinson, whose "Bugsy" (1992) brought a fourth Oscar nomination, as well as Pedro Almodovar on "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" (1990), Franco Zefferelli on "Hamlet" (1990) and "Bugsy" star Warren Beatty, who tapped him to score his romance with real-life wife Annette Bening in "Love Affair" (1994) and provide mournful music for his political satire "Bulworth" (1998).

There were also reunions with Clint Eastwood in Wolfgang Peterson's "In the Line of Fire" (1993) and Dario Argento in the disturbing "Stendahl Syndrome" (1996). A fifth Oscar nomination came for Tornatore's "Malena" in 2000; it was just one of numerous honors bestowed upon the composer during this period, including a Golden Globe for "The Legend of 1900" (1998) and a Golden Lion from the 1995 Venice Film Festival.

The turn of the new millennium marked Morricone's fifth decade as a composer, and found him still active, though mostly in his native Italy. His work, however, had made him an international legend; compositions and songs from his work were heard in television commercials and film scores, especially those of Quentin Tarantino, sampled in pop songs, and used as the inspiration for countless other scores.

His overall influence on popular culture was so great that his music eventually became its own genre, with "Morricone-esque" evoking a sound that was grand, eclectic and adventurous. That unfettered creativity finally received its greatest tribute in 2007 when Morricone was awarded a special Oscar for career achievement.

Presenting him with the award, and translating his heartfelt speech from his native tongue, was Clint Eastwood, whose own career had followed an upward trajectory since their first collaboration in 1964.

That same year, Sony Records released We All Love Ennio Morricone, a tribute album timed to coincide with the Oscar presentation. The CD compiled covers of some of his best-known tracks by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, Metallica (who opened each of their concerts with his "Ecstasy of Gold") and Andrea Bocelli.

Springsteen's rendition of "Once Upon a Time in the West" netted Morricone a Grammy, and the album itself was a bonafide hit. He also busied himself for the better part of the decade with a world tour that presented his greatest themes to audiences in London, Mexico City, New York, Vienna and points across the globe.

During his stop in New York, he presented a concert for the United Nations, which included a compositional tribute to the new Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

After director Quentin Tarantino used existing pieces of Morricone's film music to score his films "Inglourious Basterds" (2009) and "Django Unchained" (2012), the director and composer finally collaborated on Tarantino's western "The Hateful Eight" (2015).

Morricone's score, his first for a western in over 30 years, won the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Score. Ennio Morricone died July 6, 2020 at the age of 91, of injuries sustained in a fall.

Credits

Pianoforte italiano

Composer
Show
2023

Once Upon a Time in America

Music
Show
2023

Ennio's Dreams

Composer
Show
2022

Ennio

Self
Movie
2022

Sergio Leone: L'italiano che inventò l'America

Self
Movie
2022

Morricone Conducts Morricone

Composer
Show
2021

Morricone Conducts Morricone

Conductor
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2021

Rumori del 900

Composer
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2020

Omaggio a Ennio Morricone

Guest
Show
2020

Omaggio a Ennio Morricone

Music Performer
Show
2020

The Morricone Duel

Actor
Compositeur
Show
2019

1900

Music
Show
2018

Wilde Western-Woche

Actor
Music
Show
2018

Schweizer Film

Actor
Music
Show
2018

Schweizer Film

Music
Show
2018

Ennio Morricone Feat. Edda Dell'Orso: Sergio Leone Greatest Western Music of All Time (Remastered HQ Audio)

Music Performer
Show
2018

Duellen - Morricone trækker først

Composer
Show
2018

La morte legale

Self
Movie
2018

Timeline

Actor
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2017

Sad Hill Unearthed

Actor
Movie
2017

Money

Original Music
Movie
2017

Denn sie kennen kein Erbarmen - Der Italowestern

Actor
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2016

La corrispondenza

Music
Movie
2016

Historia de nuestro cine

Actor
Music
Show
2015

Pretty Yende in Prag

Composer
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2015

The Hateful EightStream

Original Music
Movie
2015
75%

En mai, fais ce qu'il te plaît

Original Music
Movie
2015

DR K Klassisk

Composer
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2014

Missa Papae Francisci

Composer
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2014

Missa Papae Francisci

Conductor
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2014

Imago urbis

Music
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2014

Sottovoce

Actor
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2014

The Best OfferStream

Original Music
Movie
2013
56%

Giuliano Gemma: Un italiano nel mondo

Self
Movie
2013

A lator

Music
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2012

Giuseppe Tornatore: Every Film My First Film

Self
Movie
2012

Come un delfino

Music
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2011

Love Story

Original Music
Movie
2011

Baarìa

Original Music
Movie
2009

Résolution 819

Original Music
Movie
2008

I demoni di San Pietroburgo

Original Music
Movie
2008

Che tempo che fa

Actor
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2007

La provinciale

Music
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2006

The Unknown Woman

Original Music
Movie
2006

A Crime

Original Music
Movie
2006

Una donna: Tre vite

Music
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2005

Karol. Człowiek, który został papieżem

Music
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2005

Fateless

Original Music
Movie
2005

Ultimo: L'infiltrato

Music
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2004

Mario Bava: Operazione paura

Self
Show
2004

Al cuore si comanda

Music
Movie
2003

Juan XXIII: El Papa Bueno, La Película

Music
Movie
2003

Black Angel

Original Music
Movie
2002

Aida degli alberi

Music
Movie
2001

I guardiani del cielo

Music
Show
2000

Mission to MarsStream

Original Music
Movie
2000
24%

Malena

Original Music
Movie
2000

Tower of the First Born

Music
Movie
2000

Vatel

Original Music
Movie
2000

ElectionStream

Non-Original Music
Movie
1999
92%

BulworthStream

Original Music
Movie
1998
76%

What Dreams May Come

Original Music
Movie
1998

The Legend of 1900

Original Music
Movie
1998

In fondo al cuore

Music
Show
1997

U-Turn

Original Music
Movie
1997

LolitaStream

Original Music
Movie
1997
69%

Die Bibel - Samson und Delila

Actor
Music
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1996

Vite strozzate

Original Music
Movie
1996

Samson y Delilah

Music
Movie
1996

La lupa

Music
Movie
1996

The Stendhal SyndromeStream

Original Music
Movie
1996
75%

Kulturzeit extra

Music Performer
Show
1995

According to Pereira

Original Music
Movie
1995

WolfStream

Original Music
Movie
1994
63%

Love Affair

Original Music
Movie
1994

Genesis: The Creation and the Flood

Original Music
Movie
1994

Le long silence

Music
Movie
1993

City of Joy

Original Music
Movie
1992

Husbands and Lovers

Music
Movie
1992

In Excess

Original Music
Movie
1992

The Palermo Connection

Original Music
Movie
1991

BugsyStream

Original Music
Movie
1991
84%

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

Original Music
Movie
1990

State of Grace

Original Music
Movie
1990

The Bachelor

Original Music
Movie
1990

Time to Kill

Actor
Movie
1990

The Endless Game

Music
Show
1989

Casualties of WarStream

Original Music
Movie
1989
84%

Frantic

Original Music
Movie
1988

A Time of Destiny

Original Music
Movie
1988

Cinema ParadisoStream

Original Music
Movie
1988
90%

The UntouchablesStream

Original Music
Movie
1987
83%

The Gold-Rimmed Glasses

Music
Movie
1987

Codename: Wildgeese

Original Music
Movie
1986

The MissionStream

Composer
Movie
1986
66%

Via Mala

Composer
Show
1985

The Key

Original Music
Movie
1985

Red SonjaStream

Original Music
Movie
1985
21%

La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding

Music
Movie
1985

Thieves After Dark

Original Music
Movie
1984

Once Upon a Time in AmericaStream

Original Music
Movie
1984
88%

Nana

Original Music
Movie
1983

Sahara

Original Music
Movie
1983

The Scarlet and the Black

Original Music
Movie
1983

Treasure of the Four Crowns

Original Music
Movie
1982

The ThingStream

Original Music
Movie
1982
85%

Le ruffian

Music
Movie
1982

La storia vera della signora dalle camelie

Music
Movie
1981

La storia vera della signora dalle camelie

Original Music
Movie
1981

Le Professionnel

Music
Movie
1981

Butterfly

Original Music
Movie
1981

Il bandito dagli occhi azzurri

Music
Movie
1980

Il ladrone

Original Music
Movie
1980

Fun Is Beautiful

Original Music
Movie
1980

Windows

Original Music
Movie
1980

Good News

Original Music
Movie
1979

Le mani sporche

Music
Show
1978

La cage aux folles

Original Music
Movie
1978

The Fifth Cord

Original Music
Movie
1978

Days of HeavenStream

Original Music
Movie
1978
93%

La Fille

Music
Movie
1978

1900: Extended

Original Music
Movie
1976

Todo Modo

Original Music
Movie
1976

René la Canne

Music
Movie
1976

Allonsonfan

Original Music
Movie
1975

A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot

Original Music
Movie
1975

Down the Ancient Stairs

Original Music
Movie
1975

The Infernal Trio

Music
Movie
1974

The Last Four Days

Music
Movie
1974

Libera, My Love

Original Music
Movie
1973

My Name Is Nobody

Music
Movie
1973

Blood in the Streets

Original Music
Movie
1973

Sepolta viva

Original Music
Movie
1973

Imputazione di omicidio per uno studente

Music
Movie
1972

Mio caro assassino

Music
Movie
1972

1870

Original Music
Movie
1972

What Have They Done to Solange?

Original Music
Movie
1972

Bluebeard

Original Music
Movie
1972

Who Saw Her Die?

Original Music
Movie
1972

What Am I Doing in the Middle of the Revolution?

Music
Movie
1972

La sciantosa

Original Music
Movie
1971

Edgar Wallace: Das Geheimnis der grünen Stecknadel

Composer
Movie
1971

Il giorno del giudizio

Music
Movie
1971

A Fistful of DynamiteStream

Original Music
Movie
1971
92%

The Canterbury Tales

Original Music
Movie
1971

La scoperta dell'America

Music
Movie
1971

The Cat o' Nine TailsStream

Original Music
Movie
1971
81%

The Working Class Goes to Heaven

Original Music
Movie
1971

The Black Belly of the Tarantula

Original Music
Movie
1971

The Burglars

Original Music
Movie
1971

La Califfa

Original Music
Movie
1971

シシリアの恋人

Music Score
Movie
1970

彼女と彼

Music Score
Movie
1970

特別な遊び~揺れる女

Music Score
Movie
1970

さよならを言わないで

Music Score
Movie
1970

Hornet's Nest

Original Music
Movie
1970

Vamos a matar, compañeros

Music
Movie
1970

Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion

Original Music
Movie
1970

L'alibi

Original Music
Movie
1969

Death Rides a HorseStream

Original Music
Movie
1969
40%

Blood and Guns

Original Music
Movie
1969

Appunti per un film sull'India

Music
Show
1968

Danger: Diabolik

Original Music
Movie
1968

Teorema

Original Music
Movie
1968

Once Upon a Time in the WestStream

Original Music
Movie
1968
96%

The Mercenary

Original Music
Movie
1968

Partner

Original Music
Movie
1968

The Great Silence

Music
Movie
1968

エスカレーション

Music Score
Movie
1967

Escalation (präsentiert von Christian Keßler)

Music
Movie
1967

Il giardino delle delizie

Music
Movie
1967

Grand Slam

Original Music
Movie
1967

The Rover

Music
Movie
1967

The Good, The Bad And The UglyStream

Original Music
Movie
1967
97%

Up the MacGregors

Original Music
Movie
1967

Listen, Let's Make Love

Original Music
Movie
1967

The Hills Run Red

Original Music
Movie
1966

The Hawks and the Sparrows

Original Music
Movie
1966

Come imparai ad amare le donne

Music
Movie
1966

The Battle of AlgiersStream

Original Music
Movie
1966
99%

Navajo JoeStream

Music
Movie
1966

Navajo JoeStream

Original Music
Movie
1966

A Bullet for the General

Composer
Movie
1966

The BibleStream

Original Music
Movie
1966

The Big Gundown

Original Music
Movie
1966

Formula C-12/Beirut

Music
Movie
1966

Non son degno di te

Music Soundtrack
Movie
1965

Altissima pressione

Music
Movie
1965

For a Few Dollars MoreStream

Original Music
Movie
1965
92%

Gunfight at Red Sands

Original Music
Movie
1965

The Faceless Monster

Original Music
Movie
1965

A Pistol for Ringo

Composer
Movie
1965

A Fistful Of DollarsStream

Music
Movie
1964
98%

A Fistful Of DollarsStream

Original Music
Movie
1964
98%

Before the Revolution

Original Music
Movie
1964

Crazy Desire

Music
Movie
1964