One of the most prolific and respected film composers of all time has passed away this week in Rome. Italian legend Ennio Morricone reportedly died in a hospital just a few days after suffering a fall and fracturing his femur. He is best known for composing the scores for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns including A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but his career goes way beyond that. In all, he scored more than 400 films spanning seven decades. He was 91 years old.
Morricone started as a trumpet player, studying classical music and playing in various jazz bands in the ’40s before arranging and composing music for artists like Paul Anka and Andrea Bocelli. He also started doing background music for radio dramas, eventually becoming a ghostwriter for film music as well. In 1961, he scored his first feature, Luciano Salce’s Il Federale (The Fascist) and just a few years later he did A Fistful of Dollars with Sergio Leone, a unique and distinctive score that started their partnership and set his career on a very different path. He went on to work with several other Italian directors across various genres including Sergio Corbucci, Dario Argento and Mario Bava.
Once the ’70s hit, Hollywood came calling and Morricone scored such movies as Bluebeard, Exorcist II: The Heretic and Days of Heaven, the latter of which earned him his first Oscar nomination. Some of his other notable scores from the next few decades include The Thing, Cinema Paradiso, The Untouchables and Bugsy. One of his final scores also happened to finally win him an Oscar: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. What are your favourite Ennio Morricone scores?