Ennio Morricone Biography

10 November 1928, Rome, Italy. A distinguished and prolific composer, whose revolutionary scores for ‘spaghetti westerns’ helped make him one of the most influential figures in the film music world, Morricone has scored hundreds of films in a career stretching over 40 years. Morricone studied trumpet and composition at Rome’s Conservatory of Santa Cecilia, before becoming a professional writer and arranger of music for radio, television and the stage as well as the concert hall. During the 50s he wrote songs and arrangements for popular vocalist Gianni Morandi and he later arranged Paul Anka’s Italian hit ‘Ogni Volta’ (1964). Morricone’s first film score was for the comedy Il Federale (The Fascist) in 1961. Three years later he was hired by Sergio Leone to compose music for Per Un Pugno Di Dollari (A Fistful Of Dollars). Using the pseudonym Dan Savio, Morricone created a score out of shouts, cries and a haunting whistled phrase, in direct contrast to the use of pseudo-folk melodies in Hollywood Westerns.

Morricone’s work on Leone’s trilogy of Italian Westerns led to collaboration with such leading European directors as Gillo Pontecorvo (La Battaglia Di Algeri, 1965), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Uccellacci E Uccellini, 1966) and Bernardo Bertolucci (1900, 1976). In the mid-70s he began to compose for US movies, such as Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) and Days Of Heaven (1978). The following decade, Morricone was nominated for an Oscar for his wondrous score to Roland Joffé’s The Mission (1986), where he used motifs from sacred music and native Indian melodies to create what he called ‘contemporary music written in an ancient language’. Further nominations have included The Untouchables (1987) and Bugsy (1991). His extensive list of scores include Frantic (1988), ¡Atame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, 1990), State Of Grace (1990), Hamlet (1990), La Villa Del Venerdì (Husbands And Lovers, 1992), In The Line Of Fire (1993), La Scorta (1993), Disclosure (1994), U Turn (1997), Lolita (1997), Bulworth (1998), La Leggenda Del Pianista Sull’Oceano (The Legend Of 1900, (1998), Mission To Mars (2000), Malèna (2000), Vatel (2000), Senso 45 (2002), Aida Degli Alberi (2001), and Ripley’s Game (2002).

The ‘spaghetti western’ sound has been a source of inspiration and samples for a number of artists including Big Audio Dynamite, Cameo and John Zorn. Morricone has recorded several albums of his own music and in 1981 he had a UK hit with ‘Chi Mai’, a tune he composed for the BBC television series The Life And Times Of David Lloyd George. A double album for Virgin Records in 1988 included Morricone’s own selection from the numerous films which he has scored, while in the same year Virgin Venture issued a recording of his classical compositions. In 2007, after composing scores for over 400 movies, Morricone was awarded an honorary Oscar for His Magnificent And Multifaceted Contributions To The Art Of Film Music.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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