The New York Times reports that legendary film composer Ennio Morricone has died. He was 91. Morricone died in the hospital where, last week, he had been admitted to a hospital after falling and fracturing his femur.
Morricone scored more than 500 films in his lifetime, including works by Brian De Palma, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Terence Malick and John Carpenter, though he’s probably most famous for the scores he composed for famed Italian westerns director Sergio Leone. Among those iconic spaghetti western films are 1964’s A Fistful of Dollars, 1965’s For a Few Dollars More, and 1966’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The latter of the three in particular became known for its atmospheric elements, featuring whistles, whip cracks, a ticking watch and a hook played on an ocarina, intended to imitate the call of a coyote.
Born in Rome in 1928, Morricone began playing music early on, playing trumpet as a child and earning a trumpet diploma from Rome’s Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in 1946 as well as a diploma in composition from the conservatory eight years later. His father Mario Morricone was also a musician, playing trumpet in light orchestras in Italy. He began writing his first broadcast compositions in the 1950s for radio and television, and around the same time he played in a jazz band.
Morricone’s first feature film score was 1961’s Il federale, directed by Luciano Salce. By the mid-1960s, Morricone averaged between 10 and 20 scores a year, eventually slowing down by the 1990s. Yet he remained active until just a few years ago, his most recent work being the score for Giuseppe Tornatore’s 2016 film The Correspondence.
Nominated for an Academy Award six times in his lifetime, beginning in 1979’s Days of Heaven, Morricone finally won an Honorary Academy Award in 2007 for his life’s work, and in 2016 he took home the Best Original Score award for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.
Composer Hans Zimmer told the BBC that Morricone’s music was “one of a kind,” and that his music was “always outstanding and done with great emotional fortitude and great intellectual thought.”
Photo by Gonzalo Tello