Ennio Morricone (November 10, 1928 – July 6, 2020) was an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and trumpet player who wrote music in a wide range of styles.
Ennio Morricone was born in Rome, to Libera Ridolfi and Mario Morricone, a musician. At the time of his birth Italy was under fascist rule. His family came from Arpino, near Frosinone and lived in Trastevere in the centre of Rome. His father was a professional trumpet player who performed in light-music orchestras while his mother had a small textile business.
Ennio’s father first taught him to read music and to play several instruments. He entered the National Academy of Saint Cecilia to take trumpet lessons and formally entered the conservatory in 1940 at age 12, enrolling in a four-year harmony program which he completed in just six months. He studied the trumpet, composition, and choral music under the direction of Goffredo Petrassi, who Morricone would later dedicate concert pieces to.
Ennio Morricone received his diploma in trumpet in 1946, continuing to work in classical composition and arrangement, received the Diploma in Instrumentation for Band Arrangement with a mark of 9/10 in 1952, and his studies concluded at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in 1954 when he obtained a final 9.5/10 in his Diploma in Composition under Petrassi.
After playing the trumpet in jazz bands in the 1940s, Ennio became a studio arranger for RCA Victor and in 1955 started ghost writing for film and theatre. Throughout his career, he composed music for artists such as Paul Anka, Mina, Milva, Zucchero and Andrea Bocelli. From 1960 to 1975, Morricone gained international fame for composing music for Westerns and “Once Upon a Time in the West” is one of the best-selling scores worldwide, with an estimated 10 million copies sold.
From 1966 to 1980, he was a main member of Il Gruppo, one of the first experimental composers collectives, and in 1969 he co-founded Forum Music Village, a prestigious recording studio.
From the 1970s, Ennio Morricone excelled in Hollywood, composing for prolific American directors such as Don Siegel, Mike Nichols, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone, Warren Beatty, John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino. In 1977, he composed the official theme for the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He continued to compose music for European productions, such as Marco Polo, La piovra, Nostromo, Fateless, Karol and En mai, fais ce qu’il te plait.
Morricone’s music has been reused in several television series, including The Simpsons and The Sopranos, and in many films, including Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. He also scored seven Westerns for Sergio Corbucci, Duccio Tessari’s Ringo duology and Sergio Sollima’s The Big Gundown and Face to Face. Morricone worked extensively for other film genres with directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Mauro Bolognini, Giuliano Montaldo, Roland Joffé, Roman Polanski and Henri Verneuil. His acclaimed soundtrack for The Mission (1986) was certified gold in the United States and the album “Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone” stayed on the Billboard Top Classical Albums for 105 weeks.
Ennio Morricone composed over 400 scores for cinema and television, as well as over 100 classical works. His score to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) is considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
His filmography includes over 70 award-winning films, all Sergio Leone’s films since “A Fistful of Dollars”, all Giuseppe Tornatore’s films since “Cinema Paradiso”, “The Battle of Algiers”, Dario Argento’s Animal Trilogy, 1900, Exorcist II, Days of Heaven, several major films in French cinema, in particular the comedy trilogy “La Cage aux Folles I, II, III” and “Le Professionnel”, as well as “The Thing”, “Once Upon A Time In America”, “The Mission”, “The Untouchables”, “Mission to Mars”, “Bugsy”, “Disclosure”, “In the Line of Fire”, “Bulworth”, “Ripley’s Game” and “The Hateful Eight”.
Ennio Morricone’s best-known compositions include “The Ecstasy of Gold”, “Se Telefonando”, “Man with a Harmonica”, “Here’s to You”, the UK No. 2 single “Chi Mai”, “Gabriel’s Oboe” and “E Più Ti Penso”. In 1971, he received a “Targa d’Oro” for worldwide sales of 22 million, and by 2016 Morricone had sold over 70 million records worldwide.
In 2007, he received the Academy Honorary Award “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.” He was nominated for a further six Oscars., and in 2016, Morricone received his first competitive Academy Award for his score to Quentin Tarantino’s film “The Hateful Eight”, at the time becoming the oldest person ever to win a competitive Oscar. His other achievements include three Grammy Awards, three Golden Globes, six BAFTAs, ten David di Donatello, eleven Nastro d’Argento, two European Film Awards, the Golden Lion Honorary Award and the Polar Music Prize in 2010.
Ennio Morricone has influenced many artists from film scoring to other styles and genres, including Hans Zimmer, Danger Mouse, Dire Straits, Muse, Metallica, and Radiohead.
On July 6, 2020, Ennio Morricone died at the Università Campus Bio-Medico in Rome, aged 91, as a result of injuries sustained during a fall.
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