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Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone is probably the most famous film composer of the 20th century. He is also one of the most prolific composers working in any medium. No exact figure is available, but he's scored several hundred films over several decades, perhaps as many as 500. While these have been in almost every imaginable musical style (and for almost every imaginable kind of movie), he is most identified with the "spaghetti Western" style of soundtracks, which he pioneered when providing the musical backdrop for the films of director Sergio Leone. Morricone's palette is extraordinarily diverse, drawing from classical, jazz, pop, rock, electronic, avant-garde, and Italian music, among other styles. Esteemed by such important figures in modern music as John Zorn (not to mention contemporary directors like Martin Scorsese), he is increasingly placed among not just the finest soundtrack composers, but the most important contemporary composers of any sort.

Morricone began studying music at Rome's Conservatory of Santa Cecilia at the age of 12. Urged to concentrate on composition by his instructors, he supported himself by playing trumpet in jazz bands, and then worked for Italy's national radio network after graduating from the conservatory. He didn't begin scoring films until the early '60s, and didn't begin attracting international notice until he began collaborating with Leone, starting with A Fistful of Dollars in the mid-'60s. (Morricone had previously worked on other Italian Westerns with other directors.) The spaghetti Westerns only comprised a phase of Morricone's career, but for many his work in this field remains his best and most innovative. Morricone amplified the film's plots and drama through ingenious use of diverse arrangements and instrumentation. Jew's harps, dissonant harmonicas, dancing piccolos, bombastic church organs, eerie whistling, thundering trumpets, oddly sung gunfighter ballads, and ghostly vocal choruses -- all became trademarks of the Morricone-Leone productions, then of the spaghetti Western genre as a whole. The influence of rock & roll was felt in the low, ominous twanging guitars, which reflected (intentionally or unintentionally) the sound of contemporary recordings by the Ventures, Duane Eddy, the Shadows, and John Barry. Morricone's most famous composition, the theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, made number two in the U.S. when it was covered by Hugo Montenegro.

Even while he was busy with collaborations with Leone, Morricone found time for various other film projects, such as the agitprop classic Battle of Algiers and Burn! By the '70s, Morricone was winding down his involvement with both Leone and the spaghetti Western, working with numerous other directors all over the world. Grand orchestration and memorable motifs were commonplace in Morricone's work; Warren Beatty, for instance, once told the Los Angeles Times that "there's nobody better than Ennio to create a haunting theme." His scores also began to utilize more contemporary electronic influences, with mixed results.

Age has not slowed Morricone in the least. In fact, the 1980s, '90s, and 2000s saw his commercial success and widespread recognition at an all-time peak. He garnered Academy Award nominations for The Mission, The Untouchables, Bugsy, and Malèna, and worked for such top directors as Pedro Almodovar, Brian DePalma, Roman Polanski, Mike Nichols, Oliver Stone, and Barry Levinson. Cinema Paradiso is probably the most renowned of his scores from that period. In his late eighties, he made waves with his work on the 2015 Quentin Tarantino western The Hateful Eight, which won him a Golden Globe and his first Academy Award for Best Original Score.

With such an abundance of recordings, collecting Morricone remains a daunting proposition. It's doubtful that anyone will collect all of his soundtracks under one roof; after all, the composer himself doesn't even remember how many films he's worked on. RCA's The Legendary Italian Westerns, Virgin's two Film Music volumes, and Rhino's Anthology are useful collections, and the DRG label has reissued other noteworthy compilations of his work. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Title: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score

1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Main Title)

3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Sentenza

4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Fuga A Cavallo

5. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Il Ponte Di Corde

7. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Inseguimento

10. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: La Missione San Antonio

11. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Padre Ramirez

14. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Il Treno Militare

15. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Fine Di Una Spia

16. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Il Bandito Monco

17. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film score: Due Contro Cinque

x

Track List: Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo

1. Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (Titoli)

2. Il Tramonto

3. Sentenza

4. Fuga A Cavallo

5. Il Ponte Di Corde

6. Il Forte

7. Inseguimento

8. Il Deserto

9. La Carrozza Dei Fantasmi

10. La Missione San Antonio

11. Padre Ramirez

12. Marcetta

13. La Storia Di Un Soldato

14. Il Treno Militare

15. Fine Di Una Spia

16. Il Bandito Monco

17. Due Contro Cinque

18. Marcetta Senza Speranza

19. Morte Di Un Soldato

20. L'estasi Dell'oro

21. Il Triello

x

Track List: The Mission

1. On Earth As It Is In Heaven

2. Falls

3. Gabriel's Oboe

4. Ave Maria Guarani

5. Brothers

6. Carlotta

7. Vita Nostra

8. Climb

9. Remorse

10. Penance

11. The Mission

12. River

13. Gabriel's Oboe

14. Te Deum Guarani

15. Refusal

16. Asuncion

17. Alone

18. Guarani

19. The Sword

20. Miserere

Comments

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nickerbocker s h e l l y
One of his greatest works was the sound track for Lady Jane. I SO wish there was a recording of it. I hear bits of the music in The Mission. Mr. Morricone, you and your wonderful music are gifts to mankind by the Universe. Thank you!
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Grazie Ennio
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Can't believe after decades of incredible music first Oscar was in 2016!
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amyharrisrn
Beautiful, God given talent, not wasted, not wondered about. Thanks for the music and the memories that come with the sounds.
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Update: Morricone won the Oscar for Hateful Eight.
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wkgswkgshops
Congratulati o n s on the Oscar!
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Fabulous
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Maestro en totadamente!
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Wrong! It was Nino Rota, mea culpa.
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He composed an opera The Straw Hat which I saw at the Julliard music school in NY in the 1980s.
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lfbraden12
Best. Need more be said?
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My favorite!
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Such a lovely song in such a strange western movie
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ljoiner730
My, My, My. This song makes me stop whatever I'm doing to listen.
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I'm stupid, to forget Ennio Morricone - genius. Clint Eastwood would kick my... for being so stupid. Oversight no doubt.
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Maestro assolutament e !
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dmesure
Ahhhhh
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nathandsande r s
Absolutely stunning!
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larry.connel l y 4 3
There are not enough words to describe the music of this man whose music can take me from the depths of despair to the heights of spiritual bliss and everything in between.
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mikkelbenson 2 0 1 1
Good music.
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Motivational music
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vincekfarm
couldn't have a better trail ride listening to this.,the horses seem to enjoy it also.
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Love this song! Sergio Leone Suite
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His music is very sensitive and moving. Love to listen to his station on Pandora.
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My Movie Radio station has been feeding me a lot of Morricone today. I can't say I have any complaint with that. This music holds up very well.
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I saw Metallica in June and they opened with this song. How badass is that lol
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His music is enthralling. I want to see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
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hannah3989
I love that film ��✌��
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hannah3989
Kret I agree
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True story telling done so very well through many instruments simply making nonsensical sounds. Like strings laying about being finely woven into something beautiful.
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The good bad and ugly one of the best films ever made
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A true master composer
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Greatest 7 minutes of a movie f**kin ever..miss you pop. .
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Epic
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Highest rating.

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One of the great melodies EVER!
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smichels4
Love the music from John Carpenter's The Thing.
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Poll: Morricone good composer full stop
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Poll: Morricone good composer.
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I agree with @MartyvH. I am not aware that President Obama has taken any public position regarding Ennio Morricone.
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@michaelback e r 9 7 Off topic. It's all about Mr Morricone.
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This music reminds me that there is much more to life than is apparent.
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Mr. Morricone is one of the greatest composers of our time. His music is akways new and inspiring, refeshing and healing.
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gotta love it !!!
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As only a pilot who loves Western instrumental s as much as I love my traditional country music/bluegr a s s , I have a rather eclectic taste in music! I have always loved the theme from "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!"
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amcmahon88
As a lifelong musician, I hold Ennio Morricone in the highest regard as one of the 3 most gifted composers of the 20th century. Joined in company by George Gershwin and John Williams, he is just brilliant!
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ruchiewo01
Can't get better than this.
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I've been an Ennio Morricone film since the '60s. He is a genius. From Fist Full of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, The Ugly to The Mission and La Califf. his two most beautiful scores. His is one works, that if it were available, I would own them all. No one grasps the sense of the scene and the air as does Morricone - sometimes you can just taste it.
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The Movie Once Upon a Time in America Robert DeNiro
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