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R.I.P. Ennio Morricone

We’ve lost one of the greats. Academy Award winning composer Ennio Morricone has passed away at the age of 91. As we spend a lot of this week here at Hollywood News sharing interviews with composers, each and every single one of them owe a debt to Morricone. When it came to cinematic music, few did it better, and arguably none were more influential. Even beyond finally winning an Oscar a few years back, Morricone had made his mark on a whole genre, as the sound of spaghetti westerns is essentially his and his alone. To say that he will be missed is a massive understatement.

Morricone won a competitive Oscar in Best Original Score recently (after taking home an Honorary Academy Award about a decade prior) for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, but even before that, his credits were incredible. Of course, Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns stand tall, but also his score for Cinema Paradiso is an all-timer. Working with A-list filmmakers, across genres, and with various sounds, though always with an unmatched care, Morricone is on the Mount Rushmore of film composers. If you love movies, it’s impossible not to love his work…

Here’s a bit from the New York Times obituary:

Ennio Morricone, the Italian composer whose atmospheric scores for spaghetti westerns and some 500 films by a Who’s Who of international directors made him one of the world’s most versatile and influential creators of music for the modern cinema, died on Monday in Rome. He was 91.

His death, at a hospital, was confirmed by his lawyer, Giorgio Assumma, who said that Mr. Morricone was admitted there last week after falling and fracturing a femur.

To many cineastes, Maestro Morricone (pronounced more-ah-CONE-ay) was a unique talent, composing melodic accompaniments to comedies, thrillers and historical dramas by Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Terrence Malick, Roland Joffé, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols, John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino and other filmmakers.

He scored many popular films of the past 40 years: Édouard Molinaro’s “La Cage aux Folles” (1978), Mr. Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), Mr. De Palma’s “The Untouchables” (1987), Roman Polanski’s “Frantic” (1988), Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso” (1988), Wolfgang Petersen’s “In the Line of Fire” (1993), and Mr. Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (2015).

Mr. Morricone won his first competitive Academy Award for his score for “The Hateful Eight,” an American western mystery thriller for which he also won a Golden Globe. In a career showered with honors, he had previously won an Oscar for lifetime achievement (2007) and was nominated for five other Academy Awards; in addition, he won two Golden Globes, four Grammys and dozens of international awards.

But the work that made him world famous, and that was best known to moviegoers, was his blend of music and sound effects for Sergio Leone’s so-called spaghetti westerns of the 1960s: a ticking pocket watch, a sign creaking in the wind, buzzing flies, a twanging Jew’s harp, haunting whistles, cracking whips, gunshots and a bizarre, wailing “ah-ee-ah-ee-ah,” played on a sweet potato-shaped wind instrument called an ocarina.

Rest in peace…

(Source: The New York Times)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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