It is rare for a film’s composer to receive his fair share of the limelight, but Ennio Morricone is one who deserves praise and appreciation for penning some of the most memorable scores in cinema history.
Born in 1928, the son of a jazz trumpet player, Morricone started composing at the early age of six. His young life consisted of working in radio and television honing his skills which lead to him landing a job as an assistant to Nascio Nascimbene, Italy’s leading film composer of the 50’s.
Forming a partnership with his classmate Sergio Leone early on in his career, Ennio Morricone’s first successful project went on to become one of the most memorable Western scores ever, A Fistful Of Dollars.
The film is based on Akira Kurosawa samurai movie Yojimbo and starred the wonderful Clint Eastwood, his work on A Fistful Of Dollars went on to revolutionise the way music was used in the genre, the films use of unusual instruments included harmonica, guitar, and the Jew’s harp. Two sequels were made, For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966), both directed by Leone, starred Eastwood and utilised Morricone’s famous score.
His work is not solely kept to just Westerns and Morricone developed scores for nearly ten films a year, ranging from the controversial Salo directed by Pasolini to the Academy Award nominated Days of Heaven by Terence Mallick. Another film of note that Morricone worked out is Roland Joffe’s The Mission in 1986, while developing the soundtrack he had the sound assistants drag a grand piano up to the editing room so he could play along to the director. As he played the piano he imitated the rest of the orchestra with his voice, to the amusement of the sound editors in the next room. It turned out that what he had envisioned was a score of immense beauty and complexity.
Recently Morricone has worked with Tarantino on the soundtracks for Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds, he also developed the soundtrack for The Place Beyond The Pines and bizarrely Anchorman 2.
In 2007, Ennio Morricone received the Academy Honorary “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”. He has been nominated for five Oscars during 1979-2001. Morricone has won three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, five BAFTAs during 1979-92, ten David di Donatello, eleven Nastro d’Argento, two European Film Awards, the Golden Lion Honorary Award and the Polar Music Prize in 2010.