Nobody has impacted the sound of film more than Ennio Morricone. The legendary composer, who has passed away at the age of 91, came to define the genre of “Spaghetti Westerns”, which made their mark in the 1960s. Films such as: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, A Fist Full of Dollars, and Once Upon A Time in the West propelled the humble Italian composer to a new prolific status. Morricone would go on to write the score for over 500 films during his career. In his later career, Morricone would write the score for The Mission and The Untouchables to name but a few.
Morricone and Leone’s partnership was to create a deeply emotive and tragic element to the films. The remote locations and tense stand-offs, Leone directed, were perfectly complemented with the anthemic and all-encompassing scores of Morricone. The howling whistles and tolls of bells became iconic very quickly and set out some of the most iconic scenes in cinema history. The european influence upon the wild west came from the addition of operatic qualities to the instrumentation, none more so than in Morricone’s finest composition The Ecstasy of Gold used for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as well as the opening theme to Once upon a Time in the West Morricone was one of the avant-garde, whose musical influence stretched into popular and cinematic culture alike. Musicians from the likes of Muse, Pet Shop Boys and even Metallica have taken inspiration from his compositions style – a sonorous echo of wild noise that took cinema and music to far out corners.
Along with his partnership with director Sergio Leone, he would create a small piece of Italian tragedy that intimidated the audience of mainstream Hollywood. Morricone was not tempted by the alluring sights of Hollywood, and preferred his native Italy to the States. But, it would be a long while until Hollywood recognised him – giving him an honorary Oscar in 2007 and one 9 years later for the soundtrack to Quentin Tarrantino’s The Hateful Eight. This reward was a welcome acknowledgement for a man of such innovative musical prowess.
He is survived by his wife, Maria, and their children, sons, Marco, Andrea, Giovanni and daughter Alessandra.