Ennio Morricone (b. November 10, 1928) is an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and former trumpet player, who composes a wide range of music styles, making him one of the most versatile, experimental and influential composers of all time, working in any medium. Morricone was born on November 10, 1928, in Rome, Italy, the son of Mario Morricone, a musician, and Libera Ridolfi. The family came from Arpino, near Frosinone. Morricone, who had four siblings, Adriana, Aldo, Maria and Franca, lived in Trastevere, in the centre of Rome, with his parents. Mario was a trumpet player who worked professionally in different light-music orchestras, while Libera set up a small textile business. Ennio’s first teacher was his father, who taught him how to read music and also to play several instruments. Morricone wrote his first compositions when he was six years old and was encouraged to develop his natural talents. Compelled to take up the trumpet, he entered the National Academy of St Cecilia, to take trumpet lessons under the guidance of Umberto Semproni.
Morricone formally entered the conservatory in 1940 at age 12, enrolling in a four-year harmony program. He completed it within six months. He studied the trumpet, composition, and choral music, under direction of Goffredo Petrassi, who influenced him; Morricone has since dedicated his concert pieces to Petrassi. In 1941, Morricone was chosen among the students of the National Academy of St Cecilia to be a part of the Orchestra of the Opera directed by Carlo Zecchi on the occasion of a tour of “Veneto” (the region of Venice). In 1946, he received his Diploma in Trumpet. Also in 1946, he composed “Il Mattino” (“The Morning”) for voice and piano on a text by Fukuko, first in a group of seven “youth” Lieder. After he graduated, he continued to work in classical composition and arrangement. Although the composer had received the Diploma in Instrumentation for Band Arrangement (fanfare) with a mark of 9/10 in 1952, his studies concluded at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in 1954 and obtained a final 9.5/10 in his Diploma in Composition, under the composer Goffredo Petrassi. On October 13, 1956, he married Maria Travia, whom he had met in 1950. 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 (1957), Alessandra (1961), the conductor and film composer Andrea (Andrew) (1964), and Giovanni Morricone (1966), a filmmaker, who lives in New York City.
In the following years, he continued to write music for the theatre as well as classical music for voice and piano, such as “Imitazione”, based on a text by Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, “Intimità”, based on a .text by Olinto Dini, “Distacco I” and “Distacco II” with words by R. Gnoli, “Oboe Sommerso” for baritone and five instruments with words by poet Salvatore Quasimodo and “Verrà la Morte”, for contralto and piano, based on a text by novelist Cesare Pavese. In 1953, Morricone was asked by Gorni Kramer and Lelio Luttazzi to write an arrangement for some medleys in an American style for a series of evening radio shows. The composer continued with the composition of other ‘serious’ classical pieces, thus demonstrating the flexibility and eclecticism which has always been an integral part of his character. Many orchestral and chamber compositions date, in fact, from the period between 1954 and 1959: Musica per archi e pianoforte (1954), Invenzione, Canone e Ricercare per piano; Sestetto per flauto, oboe, fagotto, violino, viola e violoncello (1955), Dodici Variazione per oboe, violoncello e piano; Trio per clarinetto, corno e violoncello; Variazione su un tema di Frescobaldi (1956); Quattro pezzi per chitarra (1957); Distanze per violino, violoncello e piano; Musica per undici violini, Tre Studi per flauto, clarinetto e fagotto (1958); and the Concerto per orchestra (1957), dedicated to his teacher Goffredo Petrassi.
Morricone soon gained popularity by writing his first background music for radio dramas and quickly moved into film. Morricone’s career as an arranger had started in 1950, by arranging the piece Mamma Bianca (Narciso Parigi). In occasion of the “Anno Santo” (Holy Year), he arranged a long group of popular songs of devotion for radio broadcasting. 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 Victor, working with Renato Rascel, Rita Pavone, and Mario Lanza. Throughout his career Morricone has composed songs for several national and international jazz and pop artists. In 1962 Morricone worked with American jazz singer Helen Merrill as an arranger on an EP “Helen Merrill sings Italian Songs” on the RCA Italiana label. In 1963, the composer co-wrote (with Roby Ferrante) the music for the composition “Ogni volta” (“Every Time”), a song that was performed by Paul Anka for the first time during the Festival di San Remo in 1964. This song was arranged and conducted by Morricone and sold over three million copies worldwide, including one million copies in Italy alone.
After graduating in 1954, Morricone started writing and arranging music as a ghost writer for films credited to other already well-known composers, while also arranging for many light music orchestras of the RAI television network, working most notably with Armando Trovajoli, Alessandro Cicognini and Carlo Savina. He occasionally adopted Anglicized pseudonyms, such as Dan Savio and Leo Nichols. In 1959, Morricone was the conductor (and uncredited co-composer) for Mario Nascimbene’s score to Morte Di Un Amico (Death of a Friend), an Italian drama directed by Franco Rossi. In the same year, he composed music for the theatre show Il Lieto Fine by Luciano Salce. The 1960s began on a positive note: 1961 marked in fact his real film debut with Luciano Salce’s Il Federale (The Fascist). Il Federale marked the beginning of a long-run collaboration with Luciano Salce. In 1962 Morricone composed the jazz-influenced score for Salce’s comedy La voglia matta (Crazy Desire). That year Morricone arranged also Italian singer Edoardo Vianello’s summer hit “Pinne, Fucile e Occhiali”, a cha-cha song, peppered with added water effects, unusual instrumental sounds and unexpected stops and starts.
His earliest scores were Italian light comedy and costume pictures, where Morricone learned to write simple, memorable themes. During the sixties and seventies he composed the scores for comedies such as Diciottenni al sole (1962), Il Successo (1963), Lina Wertmüller’s I basilischi (1963), Slalom (1965), Menage all’italiana (1965), How I Learned to Love Women (1966), L’harem (1967), A Fine Pair (1968), L’Alibi (1969), Questa specie d’amore (1972), Forza “G” (1972) and Fiorina la vacca (1972). Though his first films were undistinguished, Morricone’s arrangement of an American folk song intrigued director and former schoolmate Sergio Leone. Before being associated with Leone, Morricone had already composed some music for less-known western movies such as Duello nel Texas (aka Gunfight at Red Sands) (1963). In 1962, Morricone met American folksinger Peter Tevis, who is credited with singing the lyrics of Morricone’s songs such as “A Gringo Like Me” (from Gunfight at Red Sands) and “Lonesome Billy” (from Bullets Don’t Argue).
The turning point in Morricone’s career took place in 1964, the year in which his third child, Andrea Morricone, who would also become a film composer, was born. Film director Sergio Leone hired Morricone, and together they created a distinctive score to accompany Leone’s different version of the Western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964). A Fistful of Dollars came out in Italy in 1964 and was released in America three years later, greatly popularizing the so-called Spaghetti Western genre. The composer subsequently scored Leone’s other two Dollars Trilogy (or Man With No Name Trilogy) spaghetti westerns: For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). All three films starred the American actor Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name and depicted Leone’s own intense vision of the mythical West. Subsequent to the success of the Dollars trilogy, Morricone composed also the scores for Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Leone’s last credited western film A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), as well as the scores for My Name Is Nobody (1973) and A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975), produced by Sergio Leone.
Two years after the start of his collaboration with Sergio Leone, Morricone also started to score music for another Spaghetti Western director, Sergio Corbucci. The composer wrote music for Corbucci’s Navajo Joe (1966), The Hellbenders (1967), The Mercenary/The Professional Gun (1968), The Great Silence (1968), Compañeros (1970), Sonny and Jed (1972) and What Am I Doing in the Middle of the Revolution? (1972). In addition, Morricone composed music for the western films by Sergio Sollima, The Big Gundown (with Lee Van Cleef, 1966), Face to Face (1967) and Run, Man, Run! (1968), as well as the 1970 crime thriller Violent City (with Charles Bronson) and the poliziottesco film Revolver (1973).
With Leone’s films, Ennio Morricone’s name had been put firmly on the map. 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). His talent and creativity were such that many other directors were soon keen to collaborate with him, and in the next few years Morricone scored a lot of films by politically committed directors, collaborating with Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket, 1965), Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle of Algiers (1966) and Queimada! (1969) with Marlon Brando), Roberto Faenza (H2S, 1968), Giuliano Montaldo (Sacco e Vanzetti, 1971), Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, 1971), Mauro Bolognini (Drama of the Rich, 1974), Umberto Lenzi (Almost Human, 1974), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, 1975), Bernardo Bertolucci (Novecento, 1976) and Tinto Brass (The Key, 1983).
In 1977 Morricone scored Alberto De Martino’s apocalyptic horror film Holocaust 2000, starring Kirk Douglas. In 1982 he composed the score for John Carpenter’s science fiction horror movie The Thing. Morricone’s most fruitful and often long-term collaborations have been with Hollywood-related directors such as Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Warren Beatty, Oliver Stone and especially Roland Joffé, for whom Morricone wrote one of his best-known scores, the highly evocative soundtrack for The Mission (1986). The composer wrote also the music for three other movies by Joffé: Fat Man and Little Boy (1989, starring Paul Newman), City of Joy (1992, starring Patrick Swayze), and the opening film for the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Vatel, starring Gérard Depardieu, Uma Thurman and Tim Roth. In 1988 Morricone started an ongoing and very successful collaboration with Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore. His first score for Tornatore was for the drama film Cinema Paradiso. Besides the 500 original film scores that have been composed by Morricone for movies and television series in a career of over six decades, his music is in addition frequently reused in more than 150 other film projects. Morricone’s compositions appeared in the German TV series Derrick (1989), the live-action comedy film Inspector Gadget, Ally McBeal (2001), The Simpsons (2002), The Sopranos (2001–2002) and more recently in Dancing with the Stars (2010).
More recently, Morricone composed the scores for Baarìa – La porta del vento (2009), The Best Offer (2013) starring Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland and the romantic drama The Correspondence (2015) starring Jeremy Irons and Olga Kurylenko. In 2012, Morricone composed the song “Ancora Qui” with lyrics by Italian singer Elisa for Tarantino’s Django Unchained, a track that appeared together with three existing music tracks composed by Morricone on the soundtrack. “Ancora Qui” was one of the contenders for an Academy Award nomination in the Best Original Song category, but eventually the song was not nominated. In 2014, Morricone’s song “Giù La Testa” was featured in Florian Habicht’s feature film Pulp: a Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets, an unconventional rockumentary about British group Pulp which premiered at SXSW that year. In July 2015, Quentin Tarantino announced after the screening of footage of his movie The Hateful Eight at the San Diego Comic-Con International that Morricone would score the film, the first Western that Morricone has scored since 1981. The score was critically acclaimed and won several awards including the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Morricone has lived in Italy his entire life and has never desired to live in Hollywood. Since 1946 hd has composed over 500 scores for cinema and television, as well as over 100 classical works. His filmography includes over 70 award-winning films, including all Sergio Leone films since A Fistful of Dollars (including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West), all Giuseppe Tornatore films (since Cinema Paradiso), The Battle of Algiers, Dario Argento’s Animal Trilogy, Bernardo Bertolucci’s 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, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Roland Joffé’s The Mission, Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables and Mission to Mars, Barry Levinson’s Bugsy and Disclosure, Wolfgang Petersen’s In the Line of Fire, Warren Beatty’s Bulworth, Liliana Cavani’s Ripley’s Game and Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight His score to 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. As of 2013, Ennio Morricone has sold over 70 million records worldwide.
The following works by Ennio Morricone are contained in my collection:
Cinema Paradiso (1988): Main Theme.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966): Main Title.
The Mission (1986): Gabriel’s Oboe.
Once Upon a Time in America (1984): Deborah’s Theme.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968): Jill’s Theme.
The Untouchables (1987): Main Theme, and Al Capone.