As Bernard Herrmann is to Hitchcock, Nino Rota to Fellini, John Barry to James Bond and John Williams to Spielberg, Ennio Morricone is to Sergio Leone. It is impossible to recall Leone’s films in the mind’s eye or ear – from A Fistful of Dollars (1964) via The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) to the very different Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984) – without Morricone’s music.
Ennio Morricone was born in Rome on 10 November 1928. His long artistic career includes a wide range of composition genres, from absolute concert music to applied music, working as orchestrator, conductor and composer for theatre, radio and cinema. In 1946, Ennio received his trumpet diploma and in 1954 he received his diploma in Composition at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia under the guidance of Goffredo Petrassi. He wrote his first concert works at the end of the 1950s, then worked as arranger for RAI (the Italian broadcasting company) and RCA-Italy. He started his career as a film music composer in 1961 with the film Il Federale directed by Luciano Salce. World fame followed through the Sergio Leone westerns: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966), Once Upon a Time in The West (1968) and A Fistful of Dynamite (1971).
In 1965, Morricone joined the improvisation group Nuova Consonanza. Since 1960, Morricone has scored over 450 films working with many Italian and international directors including Sergio Leone, Gillo Pontecorvo, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Giuliano Montaldo, Lina Wertmuller, Giuseppe Tornatore, Brian De Palma, Roman Polanski, Warren Beatty, Adrian Lyne, Oliver Stone, Margarethe Von Trotta, Henry Verneuil, Pedro Almodovar and Roland Joffè. His most famous films (other than the Italian westerns) include: The Battle of Algiers; Sacco and Vanzetti; Cinema Paradiso; The Legend of 1900, Malena; The Untouchables; Once Upon a Time in America; The Mission and U-Turn. His absolute music production includes over 100 pieces composed from 1946 to the present day. Titles include Concerto per Orchestra n.1 (1957); Frammenti di Eros (1985); Cantata per L’Europa (1988); UT, per tromba, archi e percussioni (1991); Ombra di lontana presenza (1997); Voci dal silenzio (2002); Sicilo ed altri frammenti (2007); Vuoto d’anima piena (2008). In 2001, Ennio Morricone began a period of intense concert activity, conducting his film music and concert works for symphony orchestra and polyphonic choir in more than 100 concerts across Europe, Asia, USA, Central and South America.
During his long career, Ennio Morricone has also received many awards. As well as the Golden Lion and the honorary Oscar he was awarded in 2003, he has been presented with eight Nastri D’argento, five BAFTAs, five Oscar nominations, seven David Di Donatellos, three Golden Globes, one Grammy Award and one European Film Award. In 2009, the then President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, also signed a decree appointing Morricone to the rank of Knight in the Order of the Legion of Honor.
His more recent works include scores for the television series Karol and The End of a Mystery, 72 Meters and Fateless. In the 21st century, Morricone’s music has been reused countless times for television and in movies including Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill (2003), Death Proof (2007), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012). In 2007, Morricone received the Academy Honorary Award “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”.
On 12 June 2015, Morricone conducted a mass composed in dedication to Pope Francis. It was commissioned by the Jesuit Order to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of the recongregation of the Jesuit Order at the Jesuit Church in Rome.
2015 also saw Morricone collaborate with Quentin Tarantino on an original soundtrack for the very first time. On December 7th 2015, The Hateful Eight had its world premiere followed by a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Original Score category the very next day.