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Ennio Morricone

Also Known As: "Maestro"
Birthplace: Rome, Lazio, Italy
Immediate Family:

Son of Mario Morricone and Libera Morricone
Husband of <private> Morricone (Travia)
Father of <private> Morricone; <private> Morricone; <private> Morricone and <private> Morricone

Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • <private> Morricone (Travia)
    • <private> Morricone
    • <private> Morricone
    • <private> Morricone
    • <private> Morricone

About Ennio Morricone

He is an Italian composer and conductor. He is considered as one of the most influential and most prolific film composers of his era. Morricone has composed and arranged scores for more than 500 film and TV productions. He is well-known for his long-term collaborations with international acclaimed directors such as Sergio Leone, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, and Giuseppe Tornatore.

He wrote the characteristic film scores of Leone's Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). In the 80s, Morricone composed the scores for John Carpenter's horror movie The Thing (1982), Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Roland Joffé's The Mission (1986), Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987) and Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso (1988). His more recent compositions include the scores for Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997), Tornatore's The Legend of 1900 (1998) and Malèna (2000), De Palma's Mission to Mars (2000), Lajos Koltai's Fateless (2005), and Tornatore's Baaria - La porta del vento (2009).

Morricone has won two Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, five Anthony Asquith Awards for Film Music by BAFTA in 1979–1992 and the Polar Music Prize in 2010. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score in 1979–2001. He received the Academy Honorary Award in 2007 "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music".

Morricone and Alex North are the only composers to receive the academy honorary award since the award's introduction in 1928.

Classical music:

Morricone was born in Rome, the son of Libera and Mario Morricone, a jazz trumpeter. Morricone wrote his first compositions when he was six years old and was encouraged to develop these natural talents. Compelled to take up the trumpet, he had first gone to the National Academy of Santa Cecilia to take lessons on the instrument at the age of nine. Morricone formally entered the conservatory in 1940 at the age of 12, enrolling in a four-year harmony program. According to various reports, he completed it in either two years or six months (date approximate). He studied the trumpet, composition, choral music, and choral direction under Goffredo Petrassi, who deeply influenced him and to whom Morricone has dedicated concert pieces.

These were the difficult years of World War II in the heavily bombed "open city"; the composer remarked that what he mostly remembered of those years was the hunger. His wartime experiences influenced many of his scores for films set in that period.

After he graduated, he continued to work in classical composition and arrangement. In 1946, Morricone received his trumpet diploma and in the same year he composed "Il Mattino" ("The Morning") for voice and piano on a text by Fukuko, first in a group of 7 "youth" Lieder. Other "serious" compositions are "Imitazione" (1947) for voice and piano on a text by Giacomo Leopardi and "Intimita" for voice and piano on a text by Olinto Dini.

In the early 1950s, Morricone began writing his first background music for radio dramas. Nonetheless he continued composing classical pieces as "Distacco I e Distacco II" for voice and piano on a text by Ranieri Gnoli, "Verra' la Morte" for contralto and piano on a text by Cesare Pavese, "Oboe Sommerso" for baritone and five instruments on a text by Salvatore Quasimodo.

Although the composer had received the "Diploma in Instrumentation for Band" (fanfare) in 1952, his studies concluded in 1954, obtaining a diploma in Composition under the composer Goffredo Petrassi. In 1955 he started to write or arrange music for films credited to other already well-known composers (ghost writing). He occasionally adopted westernised pseudonyms, such as Dan Savio and Leo Nichols.

He wrote more in the climate of the Italian avant-garde. Few of these compositions have been made available on CD, and some have yet to be premiered.

Early pop arrangements:

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, working with Renato Rascel, Rita Pavone, and Mario Lanza. A particular success was one of his own songs, "Se telefonando".Performed by Mina, it was a standout track of Studio Uno 66, the fifth-biggest-selling album of the year 1966 in Italy. Morricone's sophisticated arrangement of "Se telefonando" was a combination of melodic trumpet lines, Hal Blaine–style drumming, a string set, a '60s Europop female choir, and intensive subsonic-sounding trombones. The Italian Hitparade #7 song had eight transitions of tonality building tension throughout the chorus. During the following decades, the song was covered by several performers in Italy and abroad—most notably by Françoise Hardy and Iva Zanicchi (1966), Delta V (2005), Vanessa and the O's (2007), and Neil Hannon (2008). Throughout the '60s Morricone composed songs for other artists including Milva, Gianni Morandi, Paul Anka, Amii Stewart, and Mireille Mathieu.

Leone film scores:

Well-versed in a variety of musical idioms from his RCA experience, Morricone began composing film scores in the early 1960s. Though his first films were undistinguished, Morricone's arrangement of an American folk song intrigued director and former schoolmate Sergio Leone. Leone hired Morricone, and together they created a distinctive score to accompany Leone's different version of the Western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964). As budget strictures limited Morricone's access to a full orchestra, he used gunshots, cracking whips, whistle, voices, guimbarde (jaw harp), trumpets, and the new Fender electric guitar, instead of orchestral arrangements of Western standards à la John Ford. Morricone used his special effects to punctuate and comically tweak the action—cluing in the audience to the taciturn man's ironic stance. Though sonically bizarre for a movie score, Morricone's music was viscerally true to Leone's vision.

As memorable as Leone's close-ups, harsh violence, and black comedy, Morricone's work helped to expand the musical possibilities of film scoring. Morricone was initially billed on the film as Dan Savio.

Morricone composed music for about 40 Westerns (the last was North Star (1996)), most of them Spaghetti Westerns. He scored Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, from A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and including For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), as well as later films such as A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), My Name Is Nobody (1973), and A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975). The collaboration with Leone is considered one of the exemplary collaborations between a director and a composer.

In addition, Morricone composed music for many other, not so popular Spaghetti Westerns, including Duello nel Texas (1963), Le pistole non discutono (1964), A Pistol for Ringo (1965), The Return of Ringo (1965), Navajo Joe (1966), The Big Gundown, (1966), Face to Face (1967), Death Rides a Horse (1967), The Hellbenders (1967), A Bullet for the General (1967), The Mercenary (1968), Tepepa (1968), The Great Silence (1968), Guns for San Sebastian (1968), …And for a Roof a Sky Full of Stars (1968), The Five Man Army (1969), Queimada! (1969), Vamos a matar, compañeros (1970), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), Sonny and Jed (1972), and Buddy Goes West (1981).

The team

With the score of A Fistful of Dollars, Morricone began his 10-year collaboration with his childhood friend Alessandro Alessandroni and his Cantori Moderni. Alessandroni provided the whistling and the twanging guitar on the film scores, while his Cantori Moderni were a flexible troupe of modern singers. Morricone specifically exploited the solo soprano of the group, Edda Dell'Orso, at the height of her powers—"an extraordinary voice at my disposal".

Academy Award:

Morricone received an honorary Academy Award on February 25, 2007, presented by Clint Eastwood, "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." With the statuette came a standing ovation. Though nominated five times, he had not previously received an Oscar. In conjunction with the honor, Morricone released a tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone, that featured as its centerpiece Celine Dion's rendition of "I Knew I Loved You" (based on "Deborah's Theme" from Once Upon a Time in America), which she performed at the ceremony. Behind-the-scenes studio production and recording footage of "I Knew I Loved You" can be viewed in the debut episode of the Podcast. The lyric, as with Morricone's Love Affair, had been penned by Oscar-winning husband-and-wife duo Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Morricone's acceptance speech was in his native Italian tongue and was interpreted by Clint Eastwood, who stood to his left. Eastwood and Morricone had in fact met two days earlier—for the first time in 40 years—at a reception.

Personal life

On 13 October 1956, he married Maria Travia and had his first son, Marco, in 1957. 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, Alessandra, Andrea [Andrew], and Giovanni.

Prizes and awards:

   * 1965 — Nastro d'Argento for A Fistful of Dollars
   * 1967 — Diapason d'Or
   * 1969 — Premio Spoleto Cinema
   * 1970 — Nastro d'argento for Metti una sera a cena
   * 1971 — Nastro d'argento for Sacco e Vanzetti
   * 1972 — Cork Film International for La califfa
   * 1979 — Oscar Nomination for Days of Heaven
   * 1979 — Premio Vittorio de Sica
   * 1981 — Premio della critica discografica for Il prato
   * 1984 — Premio Zurlini
   * 1985 — Nastro d'argento and BAFTA for Once Upon A Time In America
   * 1986 — Oscar Nomination, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award for The Mission
   * 1986 — Premio Vittorio de Sica
   * 1988 — Nastro d'argento, BAFTA, Grammy Award and Oscar Nomination for The Untouchables
   * 1988 — David di Donatello for Gli occhiali d'oro
   * 1989 — David di Donatello for Nuovo Cinema Paradiso
   * 1989 — Ninth Annual Ace Winner for Il giorno prima
   * 1989 — Pardo d'Oro alla carriera (Locarno Film Festival)
   * 1990 — BAFTA, Prix Fondation Sacem del XLIII Cannes Film Festival and David di Donatello for Nuovo Cinema Paradiso
   * 1991 — David di Donatello for Stanno tutti bene
   * 1992 — Oscar Nomination for Bugsy
   * 1992 — Pentagramma d'oro
   * 1992 — Premio Michelangelo
   * 1992 — Grolla d'oro alla carriera (Saint Vincent)
   * 1993 — David di Donatello and Efebo d'Argento for Jonas che visse nella balena
   * 1993 — Globo d'oro Stampa estera in Italia
   * 1993 — Gran Premio SACEM audiovisivi
   * 1994 — ASCAP Golden Soundtrack award (Los Angeles)
   * 1995 — Premio Rota
   * 1995 — Leone d'Oro Honorary award (Venice Film Festival)
   * 1996 — Premio Cappelli
   * 1996 — Premio Accademia di Santa Cecilia
   * 1997 — Premio Flaiano
   * 1998 — Columbus Prize
   * 1999 — Erich Wolfgang Korngold Internationaler Preis für Film
   * 1999 — Exsquibbidles Film Academy lifetime achievement award
   * 2000 — Golden Globe Award for The Legend of 1900 (1998)
   * 2000 — David di Donatello for Canone inverso
   * 2000 — Oscar nomination for Malèna
   * 2002 — Honorary Degree by the "Seconda Università" of Rome
   * 2003 — Golden Eagle Award for 72 Meters
   * 2003 — Honorary Senator of the Filmscoring Class of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München
   * 2006 — Grand Officer award from President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
   * 2007 — Honorary Academy Award for career achievement
   * 2007 — The Film & TV Music Award for Lifetime Achievement
   * 2008 — Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental, performed by Bruce Springsteen
   * 2008 — Knight in the Order of the Legion of Honor
   * 2009 — Medal of Merits for Macedonia[23]
   * 2009 — America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation
   * 2010 — Polar Music Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of the Arts


Ennio Morricone discography:

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Ennio Morricone's Timeline

November 10, 1928
Rome, Lazio, Italy