Italian entertainment: Ennio Morricone
- WTI Magazine #129 Jul 19, 2020
Winner of two Academy Awards, three Golden Globes and four Grammy Awards, Ennio Morricone, one of the greatest Italian composer and conductor, has given to the entire world an inestimable music heritage that will probably make the future generations remember him forever.
His death, a few days ago, on the 6th of July, has left a big hole in the hearts of the Italians. But also the Americans will mourn the loss of the famous artist, reminding the exceptional collaborations between the Maestro and the most famous American directors, such as John Carpenter, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols, Oliver Stone e Quentin Tarantino.
A former trumpet player, Ennio Morricone started to compose movie songs in 1955, while he was experiencing as a studio arranger for orchestras and the Italian branch of the American record label, RCA Records. The significant success arrived almost 10 years later, when he consolidated the relationship with his former schoolmate, Sergio Leone, the acclaimed movie director.
That was the period of the “Spaghetti-Western” and Sergio represented one of the most known proponents of the Italian genre. “A Fistful of Dollars” soundtrack (1964) was the first of a long series that Morricone wrote for his friend’s movies. It was followed by the incredible ones of “For a Few Dollars More” (1965) and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966), all starred by a young Clint Eastwood.
After collecting some Italian prizes, in 1979 the celebrated composer received his first Academy Awards nomination for the soundtrack of a movie directed by Terrence Malick, “Days of Heaven”. In 1984 he gives to the world another masterpiece, the soundtrack of Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America”.
Three years later, relevant awards began to arrive: the Golden Globe for the soundtrack of the movie “Mission” directed by Roland Joffé, followed by the one for “The Legend of 1900” by Giuseppe Tornatore in 2000 and the last for “The Hateful Eight” by Quentin Tarantino in 2016. Tarantino, during his speech on the stage of the Golden Globe’s night ceremony, depicted Morricone as his favorite composer, comparing him to the iconic Beethoven and Mozart.
The same year, Morricone won the long-awaited Academy Award for the Tarantino’s movie soundtrack, which had been preceded by the Honorary Academy Award in 2007, presented by Clint Eastwood: “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”.
In 2016 he also had his own star on the Hollywood walk of Fame!
Not to mention the Grammy Awards gained for “The Untouchables” (1988), “Once Upon a time in the West” (2007), “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (2009) and the Grammy Trustees Award (2014).
During his career, he also made the musical arrangements for several famous singers: his first success was the single “Guarda come dondolo” performed by the prodigious Edoardo Vianello, then “Sapore di Sale” by the renowned Gino Paoli and finally “Se telefonando”, one of Mina’s greatest hits.
As orchestra maestro, the most important performance was probably in 2006, when he was invited to lead some of his greatest successes during a tournée which touched incredible locations in Italy, such as the glorious “Teatro alla Scala” in Milan, the “Verona Arena” and the ancient theatre of Taormina.
In 2011, in the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy, Morricone was asked to compose and direct the "Elegia per l'Italia", result of the union among some sacred cow of the musical Italian history that accompanied the Risorgimento: among these "Va, pensiero", taken from Verdi's Nabucco, and the National Anthem of Goffredo Mameli stand out.
His amazing compositions have delighted not only the world of cinema. His compositions have been also used as background music for cartoons, television advertisements, and rock concerts. A few scenes from The Simpons are accompanied by Morricone’s music; H&M, Sky, Renault, Dolce & Gabbana have chosen Ennio’s melodies for their television spots; Metallica and Muse used to open or close their concerts with “The Ecstasy of Gold” or “Man with the Harmonica”.
This exceptional artist died at the age of 91 years old, as family said, "in respect of the feeling of humility that has always inspired the acts of his existence". Indeed, in his will, he declared: “I do not want to disturb”. The moment of the body's blessing was accompanied by the notes of “Mission” which Ennio was particularly fond of.