The Italian musician died in Rome on Monday morning following complications from a fall last week in which he broke his femur, his lawyer Giorgio Asumma told Italian news agency ANSA.
During his long and illustrious career he composed more than 500 scores for film and television, including Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti westerns.
Known as ’The Maestro’, he was presented with an honorary Oscar in 2007 -only the second composer in history to do so - by Clint Eastwood for his “magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music,” and he collected 11 David di Donatello Awards, Italy’s highest film honours.
Eastwood starred in Leone’s low-budget shoot-’em-ups A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), which all featured Morricone’s iconic scores.
Morricone first met Leone at the age of 8 in elementary school, but the two would not connect again for more than two decades.
“The music is indispensable, because my films could practically be silent movies, the dialogue counts for relatively little, and so the music underlines actions and feelings more than the dialogue,” Leone once said. “I’ve had him write the music before shooting, really as a part of the screenplay itself.”
He was asked but never scored a film for Eastwood the director, a decision he said he regretted, and missed out on a chance to do Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971).
He won an Academy Award for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015) and also was nominated for his original scores for Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978), Roland Joffe’s The Mission (1986), Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987), Barry Levinson’s Bugsy (1991) and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena (2000).
Tarantino was a big fan and used some of his compositions for the Kill Bill films, Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds.
In a January 2016 interview with The Guardian, Morricone said working with the director on Hateful Eight was “perfect ... because he gave me no cues, no guidelines.
“I wrote the score without Quentin Tarantino knowing anything about it, then he came to Prague when I recorded it and was very pleased. So the collaboration was based on trust and a great freedom for me.”
His theme, Chi Mai, for the 1981 BBC drama The Life and Times of David Lloyd George became an international hit, and he received a Grammy for his Untouchables score.
Shortly after Morricone’s death was confirmed, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tweeted: “We will always remember, with infinite gratitude, the artistic genius of the Maestro #EnnioMorricone. It made us dream, feel excited, reflect, writing memorable notes that will remain indelible in the history of music and cinema.”
Big names from the world of film and music have also paid tribute...
Where to even begin with iconic composer Ennio Morricone? He could make an average movie into a must see, a good movie into art, and a great movie into legend. He hasn't been off my stereo my entire life. What a legacy of work he leaves behind. RIP. https://t.co/qZX6qE10ke
Only a composer like #EnnioMorricone could bring the beauty, culture and the lingering romance of Italy to your senses in the pre-virtual reality and pre-internet era... All we can do is celebrate the master’s work and learn!
Damn. Ennio Morricone has left us. The way he mixed experimental sound, heartbreaking melodies and raw emotion into everything he did made him, for me, the greatest film composer EVER and a huge influence on my work..
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