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Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone at the 66th Venice Film Festival, September 2009
Background information
Also known as Maestro
Born November 10, 1928 (1928-11-10) (age 81)
Origin Rome, Italy
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
Website http://www.enniomorricone.it

Ennio Morricone, OMRI[1] (born November 10, 1928), is an Italian composer and conductor. He has composed and arranged scores for more than 500 film and television productions.[2] Morricone is considered as one of the most influential film composers since the late 1950s.[3] 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".[4] He was the second composer to receive this award after its introduction in 1928.

Contents

Biography

Classical music

Morricone was born in Rome, the son of Libera and Mario Morricone, a jazz trumpeter.[5] 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.[6]

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).[7] 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.[8]

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.

Early pop arrangements

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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.[7] 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.[7] A particular success was one of his own songs, "Se telefonando".[9][10] Performed by Mina, it was a standout track of Studio Uno 66, the fifth-biggest-selling album of the year 1966 in Italy.[11] 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.[9][10] 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).[12] Throughout the '60s Morricone composed songs for other artists including Milva, Gianni Morandi, Paul Anka, Amii Stewart, and Mireille Mathieu.

Leone film scores

Well-versed in a variety of musical idioms from his RCA experience, Morricone began composing film scores in the early '60s.[7] 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).[7] 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.[7] 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.[7] Morricone was initially billed on the film as Dan Savio.[7]

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).

The team

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".

Other film scores

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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.[13] 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).[7] 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".[14] 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.

Tours

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.

Ennio Morricone at the United Nations Headquarters

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.

Academy Award

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.[15] 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.

Recent activity

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.[16][17][18] Tarantino did use several Morricone tracks from previous films in the soundtrack.

Morricone instead wrote the music for Baaria - La porta del vento, the most recent movie by Giuseppe Tornatore. The composer is also writing music for Tornatore's upcoming movie Leningrad.

Personal life

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.

Prizes and awards

Discography

Ennio Morricone has sold over 50 million records worldwide[20][21], including 6.5 million copies in France[22] and more than two million albums in Korea.[23]

Top worldwide film grosses

Ennio Morricone has been involved with eight movies grossing over $25 million at the box office[24]:

Year Title Director Gross
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
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
2000 Mission to Mars Brian De Palma $110,983,407

Other successful movies with Morricone's work are Kill Bill 1 & 2 (2001) and Inglourious Basterds (2009), though the tracks used are sampled from older pictures.

Influence

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.

Trivia

  • The 2003 Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 makes extensive use of several Morricone pieces from several 1960s film scores. The 2009 film Inglourious Basterds also uses many Morricone pieces, as well as sharing "Il Mercenario (Ripresa)" with Kill Bill.
  • In 1990 the American singer Amii Stewart, best known for the 1979 disco hit "Knock On Wood", recorded a tribute album entitled Pearls - Amii Stewart Sings Ennio Morricone for the RCA label, including a selection of the composer's best known songs. Since the mid 1980s Stewart resides in Italy, the Pearls album features Rome's Philharmonic Orchestra and was co-produced by Morricone himself.
  • Mr. Bungle have covered several Morricone songs live including Muscoli Di Velluto from Malamondo and Main themes from Citta Violenta, Una Lucertola Con La Pelle di Donna and Metti, Una Sera a Cena.
  • Chico Buarque recorded an album with Morricone in 1970 called Per Un Pugno di Samba when the former was exiled from Brazil.
  • Italian thrash metal band Schizo recorded a cover of Morricone's "The Sicilian Clan" original soundtrack song for their 2007 album "Cicatriz Black".
  • The Vandals, in their 1984 album "Peace thru Vandalism", play their own version of the famous theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the introduction to the "Urban Struggle" track.
  • Hans Zimmer's Parlay in The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Soundtrack is a tribute to Ennio Morricone's Man with a Harmonica.[25]
  • Graeme Revell's scores was thought to have been inspired by Ennio Morricone's cult film and speghetti western scores.
  • British band Muse cites Morricone as an influence for the songs City of Delusion, Hoodoo, and Knights of Cydonia on their album, Black Holes and Revelations.[citation needed]. The band has recently started playing the song "Man With A Harmonica" live played by Chris Wolstenholme, as an intro to Knights of Cydonia.[26]
  • The final installment of the massively popular video game series, Metal Gear Solid, uses in its soundtrack Morricone's song "Here's to You", taken from the film Sacco e Vanzetti.
  • Inti-Illimani, in their 2004 Italian Concert and Album "Viva Italia", play their tribute of the Love Theme from "Cinema Paradiso".
  • The generic of Italiques 70's show produced by Marc Gilbert on french television used the soundtrack of Dio è con noi of Ennio Morricone, with a motion picture of Jean-Michel Folon that stayed the generic of the public channel for twenty years.[citation needed]
  • A remix of Ecstasy of Gold is used in Nike's "Leave Nothing" commercial with Ladainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu.
  • Jay-Z rapped over "Ecstasy of Gold" in the track "Blueprint2" off of "The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse".
  • Chi Mai is used in song Heartless by Black Attack from 1998.
  • American Thrash Metal band Metallica plays "The Ecstasy of Gold" soundtrack before they play their set at almost every concert. They have been doing so since the 1980s.

References

Sources

  • Horace, B. Music from the Movies, film music journal double issue 45/46, 2005: ISSN 0967-8131
  • Miceli, Sergio. Morricone, la musica, il cinema. Milan: Mucchi/Ricordi, 1994: ISBN 88-7592-398-1
  • Miceli, Sergio. "Morricone, Ennio". The Nesw Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Poppi, R., M. Pecorari. Dizionario del cinema italiano. I film vol. 3. Dal 1960 al 1969. Gremese, 1993: ISBN 88-7605-593-2
  • Poppi, R., M. Pecorari. Dizionario del cinema italiano. I film vol. 4. Dal 1970 al 1979* A/L. Gremese, 1996: ISBN 88-7605-935-0
  • Poppi, R., M. Pecorari. Dizionario del cinema italiano. I film vol. 4. Dal 1970 al 1979** M/Z. Gremese, 1996: ISBN 88-7605-969-5
  • Poppi, R., M. Pecorari. Dizionario del cinema italiano. I film vol. 5. Dal 1980 al 1989* A/L. Gremese, 2000: ISBN 88-7742-423-0
  • Poppi, R., M. Pecorari. Dizionario del cinema italiano. I film vol. 5. Dal 1980 al 1989** M/Z. Gremese, 2000: ISBN 88-7742-429-X

Further reading

  • Lhassa, Anne, and Jean Lhassa: Ennio Morricone: biographie. Les Planches. Lausanne: Favre; [Paris]: [diff. Inter-forum], 1989. ISBN 2828904180,
  • Wagner, Thorsten. "Improvisation als 'weiteste Ausdehnung des Begriffs der aleatorischen Musik': Franco Evangelisti und die Improvisationsgruppe Nuova Consonanza". In ...hin zu einer neuen Welt: Notate zu Franco Evangelisti, edited by Harald Muenz,.48-60, 2002. Saarbrücken: Pfau-Verlag. ISBN 3-89727-177-X.
  • Webb, Michael D. Italian 20th Century Music: The Quest for Modernity. London: Kahn & Averill. ISBN 9781871082890

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Robert Altman
Academy Honorary Award
2007
Succeeded by
Robert F. Boyle

Simple English

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.[1][2]

References








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