Ennio Morricone at the 66th Venice Film Festival, September 2009
|Also known as||Maestro|
|Born||November 10, 1928|
|Genres||Film music, Classical music, Pop music, Jazz, Lounge music, Easy listening|
|Occupations||Composer, orchestrator, music director, conductor, trumpeter|
|Years active||1946 – present|
|Associated acts||Bruno Nicolai, Alessandro Alessandroni, Mina, Yo-Yo Ma, Mireille Mathieu, Joan Baez, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Amii Stewart, Paul Anka, Milva, Gianni Morandi, Dalida, Catherine Spaak, The Pet Shop Boys and others|
Ennio Morricone, OMRI (born November 10, 1928), is an Italian composer and conductor. He has composed and arranged scores for more than 500 film and television productions. Morricone is considered as one of the most influential film composers since the late 1950s. He is well-known for his long-term collaborations with international acclaimed directors such as Sergio Leone, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, and Giuseppe Tornatore.
He wrote the characteristic film scores of Leone's Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). In the 80s, Morricone composed the scores for John Carpenter's horror movie The Thing (1982), Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Roland Joffé's The Mission (1986), Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987) and Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso (1988).
His more recent compositions include the scores for Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997), Tornatore's The Legend of 1900 (1998) and Malèna (2000), Mission to Mars (2000) by Brian De Palma, Fateless (2005), and Baaria - La porta del vento (2009). Ennio Morricone has won two Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes and five Anthony Asquith Awards for Film Music by BAFTA in 1979–1992. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score in 1979–2001. Morricone received the Honorary Academy Award in 2007 "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music". He was the second composer to receive this award after its introduction in 1928.
Morricone was born in Rome, the son of Libera and Mario Morricone, a jazz trumpeter. He was educated at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in the trumpet, composition, choral music, and choral direction under Goffredo Petrassi, who deeply influenced him and to whom Morricone has dedicated concert pieces.
Morricone was not just musically precocious. He wrote his first compositions when he was six years old, but he was deliberately encouraged to develop these natural talents and he was given a training that would prepare him to take over his father's roles both at home and at work.
Compelled by his father to take up the trumpet, he had first gone to Santa Cecilia to take lessons on the instrument at the age of nine. Morricone formally entered the conservatory in 1940 at the age of 12, enrolling in a four-year harmony program. According to various reports, he completed it in either two years or six months (date approximate). These were the difficult years of World War II in the heavily bombed "open city"; the composer remarked that what he mostly remembered of those years was the hunger. Many years were spent in study, giving him the extraordinary level of technical ability that his music exhibits. His wartime experiences influenced many of his scores for films set in that period.
After he graduated, he continued to work in classical composition and arrangement. In 1946, Morricone received his trumpet diploma and in the same year he composed "Il Mattino" ("The Morning") for voice and piano on a text by Fukuko, first in a group of 7 "youth" Lieder. Other ‘serious" compositions are "Imitazione" (1947) for voice and piano on a text by Giacomo Leopardi, "Intimita", for voice and piano on a text by Olinto Dini.
In the early 50s, Morricone begins writing his first background music for radio dramas. Nonetheless he continues composing classical pieces as "Distacco I e Distacco II" for voice and piano on a text by Ranieri Gnoli, "Verra' la Morte" for contralto and piano on a text by Cesare Pavese, "Oboe Sommerso" for baritone and five instruments on a text by Salvatore Quasimodo.
Although the composer had received the "Diploma in Instrumentation for Band" (fanfare) in 1952, his studies conclude in 1954 obtaining the diploma in Composition under the composer Goffredo Petrassi. In 1955 he started to write or arrange music for films credited to other already well-known composers (ghost writing). He occasionally adopted westernised pseudonyms such as Dan Savio and Leo Nichols.
He wrote more in the climate of the Italian avant-garde. Few of these compositions have been made available on CD, and some have yet to be premiered.
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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. A particular success was one of his own songs, "Se telefonando". Performed by Mina, it was a standout track of Studio Uno 66, the fifth-biggest-selling album of the year 1966 in Italy. 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 #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). Throughout the '60s Morricone composed songs for other artists including Milva, Gianni Morandi, Paul Anka, Amii Stewart, and Mireille Mathieu.
Well-versed in a variety of musical idioms from his RCA experience, Morricone began composing film scores in the early '60s. Though his first films were undistinguished, Morricone's arrangement of an American folk song intrigued director and former schoolmate Sergio Leone. Leone hired Morricone, and together they created a distinctive score to accompany Leone's different version of the Western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964). As budget strictures limited Morricone's access to a full orchestra, he used gunshots, cracking whips, whistle, voices, guimbarde (jaw 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.
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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.
Morricone composed music for about 40 Westerns (the last was North Star (1996))—most of them, Spaghetti Westerns. He scored Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns and later films from A Fistful of Dollars (1964) to Once Upon a Time in America (1984)—including For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), and later ones such as A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), My Name Is Nobody (1973), and A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975). The collaboration with Leone is considered one of the examplary collaborations between a director and a composer.
In addition, Morricone composed music for many other, not so popular Spaghetti Westerns, including Duello nel Texas (1963), Le pistole non discutono (1964), A Pistol for Ringo (1965), The Return of Ringo (1965), Navajo Joe (1966), The Big Gundown, (1966), Face to Face (1967), Death Rides a Horse (1967), The Hellbenders (1967), A Bullet for the General (1967), The Mercenary (1968), Tepepa (1968), The Great Silence (1968), Guns for San Sebastian (1968), …And for a Roof a Sky Full of Stars (1968), The Five Man Army (1969), Queimada! (1969), Vamos a matar, compañeros (1970), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), Sonny and Jed (1972), and Buddy Goes West (1981).
With the score of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), Morricone started his 10-year collaboration with his childhood friend Alessandro Alessandroni and his Cantori Moderni. 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".
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Most of Ennio Morricone's film scores of the '60s were composed outside the Spaghetti Western genre, while still using Alessandro Alessandroni's team. Their music included the themes for Il Malamondo (1964), Slalom (1965), The Battle of Algiers (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). The next year marked the start of a series of evocative scores for Dario Argento's stylized thrillers, including The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971), and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1974). 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. In 1973, he scored a theme for the crime film Revolver (1973). He received his first nomination for an Academy Award in 1979 for the score to Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978) and another in 1986 for The Mission (Roland Joffé, 1986), in 1987 for The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987), in 1991 for Bugsy (Barry Levinson, 1991), and in 2001 for Malèna (Giuseppe Tornatore, 2000). Morricone composed the score for John Carpenter's science-fiction/horror movie The Thing (1982).
Morricone has worked for television—from a single title piece to variety shows and documentaries to TV series, including Moses (1974) and Marco Polo (1982). "Chi Mai", his composition used as the main theme in French Le Professionnel(1981) and in The Life and Times of David Lloyd George of the same year was a surprise huge hit in the UK, almost topping the charts. 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. Their collaboration yielded the BAFTA-winning Nuovo cinema Paradiso. In 2003, Ennio Morricone scored another epic—this one, for Japanese television—which was 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.
Since 2001, Ennio Morricone 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 2006-12-01 and 2006-12-02.
He made his North American concert debut on 2007-01-29 at Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City and four days later 2007-02-03 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 December 12, 2007, Morricone conducted the 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 October 17 and 18, 2008. Morricone and Roma Sinfonietta also held a concert at the Belgrade Arena (Belgrade, Serbia) on February 14, 2009.
On April 10, 2010, Ennio Morricone will conduct a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Morricone received an honorary Academy Award on 2007-02-25 from Clint Eastwood "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." With the statuette went a standing ovation. Though nominated five times, he had not previously received an Oscar. 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. The lyric, as with Morricone's Love Affair, had been penned by Oscar-winning husband-and-wife duo Marilyn and Alan 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.
Quentin Tarantino originally wanted Morricone to compose the soundtrack for his most recent film, Inglourious Basterds. However, Morricone refused because of the sped-up production schedule of the film. Tarantino did use several Morricone tracks from previous films in the soundtrack.
On 13 October 1956, he married Maria Travia and had his first son, Marco, in 1957. Maria 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, Alessandra, Andrea [Andrew], and Giovanni.
Ennio Morricone has been involved with eight movies grossing over $25 million at the box office:
|1966||The Good, The Bad & The Ugly||Sergio Leone||$25,100,000|
|1977||Exorcist II: The Heretic||John Boorman||$30,749,142|
|1987||The Untouchables||Brian De Palma||$76,270,454|
|1993||In the Line of Fire||Wolfgang Petersen||$176,997,168|
|2000||Mission to Mars||Brian De Palma||$110,983,407|
Morricone's influence extends into the realm of pop music. Hugo Montenegro had a hit with a version of the main theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in both the United Kingdom and the United States. This was followed by his album of Morricone's music in 1968.
Aside from his music having been sampled by everyone from rappers (Jay-Z) to electronic outfits (the Orb), Morricone wrote "Se Telefonando" -- which became Italy's fifth biggest-selling record of 1966 and has since been re-recorded by Françoise Hardy, among many others—and scored the strings for "Dear God, Please Help Me" on Morrissey's 2006 "Ringleader of the Tormentors" album.
Morricone's film music was also recorded by many artists. John Zorn recorded an album of Morricone's music, The Big Gundown, with Keith Rosenberg in the mid-1980s. Lyricists and poets have helped convert some of his melodies into a songbook.
Morricone collaborated with world music artists, like Portuguese fado singer Dulce Pontes (in 2003 with Focus, an album praised by Paulo Coelho and where his songbook can be sampled) and virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma (in 2004), who both recorded albums of Morricone classics with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra and Morricone himself conducting.
Metallica uses Morricone's The Ecstasy of Gold as an intro at their concerts (shock jocks Opie and Anthony also use the song at the start of their XM Satellite Radio and CBS Radio shows.) The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra also played it on Metallica's Symphonic rock album S&M. Ramones used the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as a concert intro. The theme from A Fistful Of Dollars is also used as a concert intro by The Mars Volta.
His influence extends from Michael Nyman to Muse. He even has his own tribute band, a large group which started in Australia, touring as The Ennio Morricone Experience. In 2006 Morricone made a guest appearance on the Morrissey album Ringleader of the Tormentors, scoring the string track for "Dear God, Please Help Me". It was recorded in the Forum Music Village Studios of Rome, Morricone's regular recording and mixing venue, previously known as the Orthophonic Recording Studio, which is located beneath a church.
In 2007, the tribute album We All Love Ennio Morricone was released. It features performances by various artists, including Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica.
Lead Singer Adam Trula of the rock group Murder By Death has said Morricone has played a large role in the influence of the band.
British band Babe Ruth has covered several of his themes, most prominently in their song "The Mexican". The adventure video game Wild Arms by PlayStation features a soundtrack which is reminiscent of his work and includes a theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly soundtrack.
|Awards and achievements|
|Academy Honorary Award
Robert F. Boyle
Ennio Morricone (born November 10, 1928) is an Italian classical composer famous for making film scores. He has composed the scores for more than 500 movies and television programs. He is well known for composing the scores to Western movies, particularly Spaghetti Westerns. In 2007 he received the Honorary Academy Award for his many great movie scores. In his career, the composer sold over 50 million records worldwide.