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Music / Ennio Morricone

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Even if the name's unfamiliar, you'll have heard the man's music.

No, seriously. Go to IMDB. Just perform a cursory scan of the ridiculously long list of films he's been attached to. You will have watched one of those films, if only by accident.

Ennio Morricone (10 November 1928 — 6 July 2020) was an Italian composer, musician, and conductor. His prolific output stems from the fact that when it comes to genre he was not particularly picky (although he's best-known for his contribution to the Spaghetti Western and many collaborations with Sergio Leone). Rather than list people he's influenced, it would just be quicker to list people he hasn't. He's been sampled and covered by artists ranging from John Zorn to Jay-Z. Everybody tends to form an orderly line in order to heap superlatives on him.

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A lifelong Rome resident and classically trained musician, Morricone began studying at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia at age 12. Advised to study composition, Morricone also specialized in playing trumpet and supported himself by playing in a jazz band and working as an arranger for Italian radio and TV after he graduated. Morricone subsequently became a top studio arranger at RCA Records, working with such stars as Mario Lanza and Chet Baker. Well-versed in a variety of musical idioms from his RCA experience, Morricone began composing film scores in the early '60s. 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). Rather than orchestral arrangements of Western standards à la John Ford — budget strictures limited Morricone's access to a full orchestra regardless — Morricone used gunshots, cracking whips, voices, Sicilian folk instruments, trumpets, and the new Fender electric guitar 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.

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Astoundingly, Morricone had no issues scoring films and touring the world in his late 80s, even conducting his music live. Unfortunately, he suffered a fall which broke his femur, and he died at age 91 from complications shortly after being hospitalized.

Trope Namer for Ennio Morricone Pastiche.


Significant works include soundtracks for:

Works with soundtracks consisting heavily of recycled Morricone:


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