Ennio Morricone10 nov 1928 (Rome) -
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He is considered one of the most prolific and influential film composers of his era. Morricone has composed and arranged scores for more than 500 film and TV productions. He is well-known for his long-term collaborations with international acclaimed directors such as Sergio Leone, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, and Giuseppe Tornatore.
He wrote the characteristic film scores of Leone's Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). In the 80s, Morricone composed the scores for John Carpenter's horror movie The Thing (1982), Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Roland Joffé's The Mission (1986), Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987) and Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso (1988). His more recent compositions include the scores for Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997), Tornatore's The Legend of 1900 (1998) and Malèna (2000), De Palma's Mission to Mars (2000), Lajos Koltai's Fateless (2005), and Tornatore's Baaria - La porta del vento (2009).
Morricone has won two Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, five Anthony Asquith Awards for Film Music by BAFTA in 1979–1992 and the Polar Music Prize in 2010. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score during 1979–2001. He received the Academy Honorary Award in 2007 "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music". Morricone and Alex North are the only composers to receive the honorary Oscar since the award's introduction in 1928.
Life and career
Morricone was born in Rome, the son of Libera and Mario Morricone, a jazz trumpeter. Morricone wrote his first compositions when he was six years old and was encouraged to develop these natural talents. Compelled to take up the trumpet, he had first gone to the National Academy of Santa Cecilia to take lessons on the instrument at the age of nine. Morricone formally entered the conservatory in 1940 at the age of 12, enrolling in a four-year harmony program. According to various reports, he completed it in either two years or six months (date approximate). He studied the trumpet, composition, choral music, and choral direction under Goffredo Petrassi, who deeply influenced him and to whom Morricone has dedicated concert pieces.
These were the difficult years of World War II in the heavily bombed "open city"; the composer remarked that what he mostly remembered of those years was the hunger. His wartime experiences influenced many of his scores for films set in that period.
After he graduated, he continued to work in classical composition and arrangement. In 1946, Morricone received his trumpet diploma and in the same year he composed "Il Mattino" ("The Morning") for voice and piano on a text by Fukuko, first in a group of 7 "youth" Lieder. Other serious compositions are "Imitazione" (1947) for voice and piano on a text by Giacomo Leopardi and "Intimita" for voice and piano on a text by Olinto Dini.
In the early 1950s, Morricone began writing his first background music for radio dramas. Nonetheless he continued composing classical pieces as "Distacco I e Distacco II" for voice and piano on a text by Ranieri Gnoli, "Verra' la Morte" for contralto and piano on a text by Cesare Pavese, "Oboe Sommerso" for baritone and five instruments on a text by Salvatore Quasimodo.
Although the composer had received the "Diploma in Instrumentation for Band" (fanfare) in 1952, his studies concluded in 1954, obtaining a diploma in Composition under the composer Goffredo Petrassi. In 1955 he started to write or arrange music for films credited to other already well-known composers (ghost writing). He occasionally adopted Anglicized pseudonyms, such as Dan Savio and Leo Nichols.
He wrote more works in the climate of the Italian avant-garde. A few of these compositions have been made available on CD, such as "Ut", his trumpet concerto dedicated to the soloist Mauro Maur, one of his favorite musicians; some have yet to be premiered.
Early pop arrangements
In 1956, Morricone started to support his family by playing in a jazz band and arranging pop songs for the Italian broadcasting service RAI. He was hired by RAI in 1958, but quit his job on his first day at work when he was told that broadcasting of music composed by employees was forbidden by a company rule. Subsequently, Morricone became a top studio arranger at RCA, working with Renato Rascel, Rita Pavone, and Mario Lanza. A particular success was one of his own songs, "Se telefonando". Performed by Mina, it was a standout track of Studio Uno 66, the fifth-biggest-selling album of the year 1966 in Italy. Morricone's sophisticated arrangement of "Se telefonando" was a combination of melodic trumpet lines, Hal Blaine–style drumming, a string set, a '60s Europop female choir, and intensive subsonic-sounding trombones. The Italian Hitparade #7 song had eight transitions of tonality building tension throughout the chorus. During the following decades, the song was covered by several performers in Italy and abroad—most notably by Françoise Hardy and Iva Zanicchi (1966), Delta V (2005), Vanessa and the O's (2007), and Neil Hannon (2008). In the reader's poll conducted by the la Repubblica newspaper to celebrate Mina's 70th anniversary in 2010, 30,000 voters picked the track as the best song ever recorded by Mina. Throughout the '60s Morricone composed songs for other artists including Milva, Gianni Morandi, Paul Anka, Amii Stewart, and Mireille Mathieu.
Leone film scores
Well-versed in a variety of musical idioms from his RCA experience, Morricone began composing film scores in the early 1960s. Though his first films were undistinguished, Morricone's arrangement of an American folk song intrigued director and former schoolmate Sergio Leone. Leone hired Morricone, and together they created a distinctive score to accompany Leone's different version of the Western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964). As budget strictures limited Morricone's access to a full orchestra, he used gunshots, cracking whips, whistle, voices, guimbarde (jaw harp), trumpets, and the new Fender electric guitar, instead of orchestral arrangements of Western standards à la John Ford. Morricone used his special effects to punctuate and comically tweak the action—cluing in the audience to the taciturn man's ironic stance. Though sonically bizarre for a movie score, Morricone's music was viscerally true to Leone's vision.
As memorable as Leone's close-ups, harsh violence, and black comedy, Morricone's work helped to expand the musical possibilities of film scoring. Morricone was initially billed on the film as Dan Savio.
Morricone composed music for about 40 Westerns (the last was North Star (1996)), most of them Spaghetti Westerns. He scored Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, from A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and including For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), as well as later films such as A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), My Name Is Nobody (1973), and A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975). The collaboration with Leone is considered one of the exemplary collaborations between a director and a composer.
In addition, Morricone composed music for many other, not so popular Spaghetti Westerns, including Duello nel Texas (1963), Le pistole non discutono (1964), A Pistol for Ringo (1965), The Return of Ringo (1965), Navajo Joe (1966), The Big Gundown, (1966), Face to Face (1967), Death Rides a Horse (1967), The Hellbenders (1967), A Bullet for the General (1967), The Mercenary (1968), Tepepa (1968), The Great Silence (1968), Guns for San Sebastian (1968), …And for a Roof a Sky Full of Stars (1968), The Five Man Army (1969), Queimada! (1969), Vamos a matar, compañeros (1970), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), Sonny and Jed (1972), and Buddy Goes West (1981).
With the score of A Fistful of Dollars, Morricone began his 10-year collaboration with his childhood friend Alessandro Alessandroni and his Cantori Moderni. Alessandroni provided the whistling and the twanging guitar on the film scores, while his Cantori Moderni were a flexible troupe of modern singers. Morricone specifically exploited the solo soprano of the group, Edda Dell'Orso, at the height of her powers—"an extraordinary voice at my disposal".
Other film scores
Most of Morricone's film scores of the 1960s were composed outside the Spaghetti Western genre, while still using Alessandroni's team. Their music included the themes for Il Malamondo (1964), Slalom (1965), The Battle of Algiers (1965), and Listen, Let's Make Love (1967). In 1968, Morricone reduced his work outside the movie business and wrote scores for 20 films in the same year. The scores included psychedelic accompaniment for Mario Bava's superhero romp Danger: Diabolik (1968). The next year marked the start of a series of evocative scores for Dario Argento's stylized thrillers, including The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971), and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1974). In 1970, Morricone wrote the score for Violent City. That same year, he received his first Nastro d'Argento for the music in Metti una sera a cena (Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, 1969) and his second only a year later for Sacco e Vanzetti (Giuliano Montaldo, 1971), in which he had made a memorable collaboration with the legendary American folk singer and activist Joan Baez. In 1973, he scored a theme for the crime film Revolver (1973). He received his first nomination for an Academy Award in 1979 for the score to Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978) and another in 1986 for The Mission (Roland Joffé, 1986), in 1987 for The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987), in 1991 for Bugsy (Barry Levinson, 1991), and in 2001 for Malèna (Giuseppe Tornatore, 2000). Morricone composed the score for John Carpenter's science-fiction/horror movie The Thing (1982).
Morricone has worked for television, from a single title piece to variety shows and documentaries to TV series, including Moses (1974) and Marco Polo (1982). One notable composition, "Chi Mai" was used in the films, Maddalena (1971) and Le Professionnel (1981) as well as the TV series The Life and Times of David Lloyd George (1981). It was a surprise hit in the UK, almost topping the charts. He wrote the score for the Mafia television series La piovra seasons 2 to 10 from 1985 to 2001, including the themes "Droga e sangue" ("Drugs and Blood"), "La morale", and "L'immorale". Morricone worked as the conductor of seasons 3 to 5 of the series. He also worked as the music supervisor for the television project La bibbia ("The Bible"). In the late 1990s, he collaborated with his son, Andrea, on the Ultimo crime dramas. Their collaboration yielded the BAFTA-winning Nuovo cinema Paradiso. In 2003, Ennio Morricone scored another epic, for Japanese television, called Musashi and was the Taiga drama about Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's legendary warrior. A part of his "applied music" is now applied to Italian television films.
Since 2001, Morricone has been on a world tour, the latter part sponsored by Giorgio Armani, with the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta, touring London (Barbican 2001; 75th birthday Concerto, Royal Albert Hall 2003), Paris, Verona, and Tokyo. Morricone performed his classic film scores at the Munich Philharmonie in 2005 and Hammersmith Apollo Theatre in London, UK, on 2006-12-01 and 2006-12-02.
He made his North American concert debut on January 29, 2007 Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City and four days later at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The previous evening, Morricone had already presented at the United Nations a concert comprising some of his film themes, as well as the cantata Voci dal silenzio to welcome the new Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. A Los Angeles Times review bemoaned the poor acoustics and opined of Morricone: "His stick technique is adequate, but his charisma as a conductor is zero." Morricone, though, has said: "Conducting has never been important to me. If the audience comes for my gestures, they had better stay outside."
On December 12, 2007, Morricone conducted the Roma Sinfonietta at the Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna, presenting a selection of his own works. Together with the Roma Sinfonietta and the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, Morricone performed at the Opening Concerts of the Belfast Festival at Queen's, in the Waterfront Hall on October 17 and 18, 2008. Morricone and Roma Sinfonietta also held a concert at the Belgrade Arena (Belgrade, Serbia) on February 14, 2009.
On April 10, 2010, Morricone conducted a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Roma Sinfonietta and (as in all of his previous London concerts) the Crouch End Festival Chorus. On August 27, 2010, he conducted a concert in Hungary. Two other concerts took place in Verona and Sofia (Bulgaria) on 11 and 17 September 2010.
Morricone received an honorary Academy Award on February 25, 2007, presented by Clint Eastwood, "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." With the statuette came a standing ovation. Though nominated five times, he had not previously received an Oscar. In conjunction with the honor, Morricone released a tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone, that featured as its centerpiece Celine Dion's rendition of "I Knew I Loved You" (based on "Deborah's Theme" from Once Upon a Time in America), which she performed at the ceremony. Behind-the-scenes studio production and recording footage of "I Knew I Loved You" can be viewed in the debut episode of the QuincyJones.com Podcast. The lyric, as with Morricone's Love Affair, had been penned by Oscar-winning husband-and-wife duo Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Morricone's acceptance speech was in his native Italian tongue and was interpreted by Clint Eastwood, who stood to his left. Eastwood and Morricone had in fact met two days earlier—for the first time in 40 years—at a reception.
Quentin Tarantino originally wanted Morricone to compose the soundtrack for his most recent film, Inglourious Basterds. However, Morricone refused because of the sped-up production schedule of the film. Tarantino did use several Morricone tracks from previous films in the soundtrack.
On 13 October 1956, he married Maria Travia and had his first son, Marco, in 1957. Travia has written lyrics to complement her husband's pieces. Her works include the Latin texts for The Mission. They have three sons and a daughter, in order of birth: Marco, Alessandra, Andrea [Andrew], and Giovanni.
Prizes and awards
Top worldwide film grosses
Ennio Morricone has been involved with eight movies grossing over $25 million at the box office:
Morricone's influence extends into the realm of pop music. Hugo Montenegro had a hit with a version of the main theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in both the United Kingdom and the United States. This was followed by his album of Morricone's music in 1968.
Aside from his music having been sampled by everyone from rappers (Jay-Z) to electronic outfits (the Orb), Morricone wrote "Se Telefonando", which became Italy's fifth biggest-selling record of 1966 and has since been re-recorded by Françoise Hardy, among many others, and scored the strings for "Dear God, Please Help Me" on Morrissey's 2006 "Ringleader of the Tormentors" album.
Morricone's film music was also recorded by many artists. John Zorn recorded an album of Morricone's music, The Big Gundown, with Keith Rosenberg in the mid-1980s. Lyricists and poets have helped convert some of his melodies into a songbook.
Morricone collaborated with world music artists, like Portuguese fado singer Dulce Pontes (in 2003 with Focus, an album praised by Paulo Coelho and where his songbook can be sampled) and virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma (in 2004), who both recorded albums of Morricone classics with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra and Morricone himself conducting.
Metallica uses Morricone's The Ecstasy of Gold as an intro at their concerts (shock jocks Opie and Anthony also use the song at the start of their XM Satellite Radio and CBS Radio shows.) The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra also played it on Metallica's Symphonic rock album S&M. Ramones used the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as a concert intro. The theme from A Fistful Of Dollars is also used as a concert intro by The Mars Volta.
His influence extends from Michael Nyman to Muse. He even has his own tribute band, a large group which started in Australia, touring as The Ennio Morricone Experience. In 2006 Morricone made a guest appearance on the Morrissey album Ringleader of the Tormentors, scoring the string track for "Dear God, Please Help Me". It was recorded in the Forum Music Village Studios of Rome, Morricone's regular recording and mixing venue, previously known as the Orthophonic Recording Studio, which is located beneath a church.
In 2007, the tribute album We All Love Ennio Morricone was released. It features performances by various artists, including Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica.
Lead singer Adam Trula of the rock group Murder By Death has said Morricone has played a large role in the influence of the band.
British band Babe Ruth has covered several of his themes, most prominently in their song "The Mexican". The adventure video game Wild Arms by PlayStation features a soundtrack which is reminiscent of his work and includes a theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly soundtrack.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ennio Morricone. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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Prussian Sonata No.1
Corale San Gaudenzio
Toccata and Fugue in d minor
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Mass in B minor
Wiener Akademie Kammerchor
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini