Hollywood loses one of its greatest EVER composers
Sad news has reached us this today that acclaimed and legendary composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91 after suffering injuries he sustained in a fall. He sadly passed away at the Universita Campus Bio-Medico in Rome. We at The Future Of The Force wish to express our sincere condolences to his widow, Maria, and his four children at this somber time.
Ennio Morricone was born in Rome on the 10th of November 1928 to Libera Ridolfi and Mario Morricone, a musician who taught his son how to read music and how to play several instruments. Deciding to take up the trumpet as his musical instrument of choice, Morricone took lessons for it at the National Academy Of St Cecilia, signing up for a four-year harmony program which he managed to complete in six months. He was heavily influenced by Goffredo Petrassi who taught him the trumpet, composition, and choral music. Morricone dedicated all of the concert pieces he played throughout his career to Petrassi in honor of his mentor. Morricone gained 9.5/10 in his diploma in composition under Petrassi’s tuition and a 9/10 for his diploma in Instrumentation For Band Arrangement, leading him to start playing in a jazz band in 1956 to support his family as well as arranging pop songs for the Italian broadcasting company, RAI. RAI hired Morricone in 1958 but he quit the job within a day after being informed it was forbidden for him or any other employee to broadcast anything they had composed. Morricone moved to RCA Victor instead and began working with artists such as Rita Pavone and Mario Lanza. Throughout his career, Morricone worked in popular music and even contributed to the British band The Pet Shop Boys, co-writing for their record ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’ as well as working with Sting in 2001 on ‘My Heart And I’.
Ennio Morricone worked on many film genres throughout his long and varied career. He wrote for comedies, westerns, period dramas and such like. But he will always be remembered for the music he composed for Sergio Leone for his ‘Dollars’ trilogy of westerns. The three movies that starred Clint Eastwood as the man with no name have gone down in history for the compositions Morricone gave to the films. There is hardly anyone in the world that cannot instantly recognize the theme to ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly‘ the second it starts to play. It has become one of the most recognizable pieces of music ever created and it was down to Morricone and the genius he was. Morricone and Leone continued to work together right up until the director’s death from a heart attack in 1989. The final score that Morricone supplied for Leone was for the epic ‘Once Upon A Time In America‘. Again, Morricone gave the film a grand score, and his haunting style suited the gangster film to a tee. Morricone also gave the world possibly one of the finest scores ever created with his haunting and quite sublime music for ‘Once Upon A Time In The West‘, possibly one of the best westerns ever filmed and Morricone’s score is one of the best-selling instrumental scores in the world up to the current day.
Ennio Morricone also had a long and successful career working on horror movies especially alongside Dario Argento and his ‘Giallo‘ movies. ‘The Bird With The Crystal Plumage‘, ‘Cat O’Nine Tails‘, and ‘The Stendhal Syndrome’ among many that he composed for. It was his scores and his distinctive style that made him the obvious choice when John Carpenter decided to pass on composing the music for his 1982 remake of ‘The Thing‘. What could have been just a forgettable score was never on Morricone’s agenda. Instead, he turned in and gave the world an excellent, scary, and moody score that fit the film perfectly. The opening theme and it’s reprise over the end credits has gone down in history as one of the best pieces of music ever written. Marco Beltrami wrote the score for the prequel to the film back in 2011 but had to use Morricone’s theme as the backbone and the staple for his own score. The film was forgettable but by using Morricone’s cues, Beltrami made the score a standout.
Another brilliant score in Morricone’s Hollywood career was produced for the Brian De Palma 1987 hit ‘The Untouchables‘. Morricone composed a score that not only depicted the film’s 1930s setting but conveyed the highs, the lows, and the sadness that the film contained. His composition of ‘Death Theme’ suited the film and grounded the film and its emotional content. But the standout piece of music Ennio Morricone composed for the film was for the train station sequence which Morricone named ‘Machine Gun Lullaby’. The piece starts and ends with a child’s melody all the while the music slowly builds up to a crescendo. It is truly a masterful piece of music from a masterful composer.
Although he was a Hollywood favorite for his music, the composer never left his beloved Italy and refused to move to America or anywhere else in the world, choosing instead to stay in the country of his birth. Ennio Morricone leaves behind a legacy of film music that will always live on in the memory. No matter what the film is, comedy, action, drama, horror or western, Morricone has left us with music that will stand the test of time and will be enjoyed around the world for years to come. Ennio Morricone, we thank you, we salute you and we will miss you. Ciao Signor.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!