A unique and brilliant label for the history of music and cinema: Ennio Morricone

Legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Copyright: Polifoto

Legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Copyright: Polifoto

The whole world knows the feelings that come from the symphonies of his music and the images that they evoke, images associated with films (more than 60) that have won awards and for which the same music was composed and used as musical scores.
 
At the age of 87, Ennio Morricone continues to stand out, to impress, and to win.  His last award is the 2016 Golden Globe for the musical score composed for Quentin Tarantino’s movie, “The Hateful Eight”, which probably will not be the last if you consider his nomination to the 2016 Oscar.  Accepting the Golden Globe on Morricone’s behalf, Tarantino calls the maestro his favorite composer, considering him not only a “movie composer”, but placing him at the same level as Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert.  
 
His career, which started as a musical arranger of excerpts and songs in collaboration with famous musicians like Paul Anka and Chet Baker, and which later emerged as a music composer for Italian western films, allowed Morricone, since the 1950s, to acquire more and more worldly fame, to elevate the Italian culture in unique and unparalleled levels, to make Italy proud of his work and to make the Hollywood movie world, with which he retains a deep bond, increasingly more devoted and full of esteem. 

Legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone.. Photo by arp

A native of Arpino (in the province of Frosinone) but born in Rome in 1928 where he later lived with his wife and children in the district of Trastevere, Ennio Morricone graduated from the conservatory of Santa Cecilia in trumpet, band instrumentation and composition. In 1955, he began composing music for films and at the same time, he worked as an arranger of light music for orchestras and records at the RCA Italia record company.  In 1958, he was hired as a musical assistant of RAI, a brief experience that caused him to resign the same day, deciding to cultivate and continue his work as a full time musician/composer. In 1966, he worked on his hit song “Se telefonando”, which he composed and arranged together with the authors of the text Ghigo De Chiara and Maurizio Costanzo and sung by the presenter and Italian singer, Mina.       
In 1964, he joined the group of composers, Gruppo d’Improvvisazzione Nuova Consonanza (New Consonance Improvisation Group) founded by Franco Evangelisti. 
 
The origin of his illustrious career goes back to his school years when he met his classmate in elementary school, Sergio Leone, who would later become the great Italian director.
 
The partnership between the two started in 1964, the same time that Morricone began a collaboration with director Bernardo Bertolucci.  Father of the “spaghetti-western” films of the 60’s in Italy and abroad, Sergio Leone is accompanied in his success, step by step, by his friend Ennio Morricone, composer of the soundtrack of the so-called “dollar trilogy” (“For a fistful of dollars”, “For a few dollars more”, “The good, the bad, and the ugly”), played by Clint Eastwood, and subsequently, “time trilogy” (“Once upon a time in the West”, "Once Upon a Time the Revolution" and “Once upon a time in America”).
 
It is with the first soundtrack composed for Leone’s film, “For a Fistful of Dollars”, that Morricone earns his first recognition: the first Silver Ribbon in 1965.  It is from this point on that the story of the cinema, national and international, is marked by scenes set in the dusty West where a young and charming Clint Eastwood moves, speaks, and duels with the background of the famous music signed Morricone. The second Silver Ribbon award is in 1970 for the music of the film "One Night at Dinner" and the third after only one year for the film "Sacco and Vinzetti" directed by Giuliano Montaldo and interpreted by Gian Maria Volontè and Riccardo Cucciolla.
 
In 1985, he receives another Silver Ribbon and the Bafta award for the movie, “Once upon a time in America”, which tells of the life of Robert De Niro, as the criminal David “Noodles” Aaronson, in New York from the twenties to sixties, framed and accompanied by the enveloping music composed by the Italian maestro.  
 
In 1988 Morricone won a Silver Ribbon, the Bafta Award and a Grammy Award for Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” with Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia, and Sean Connery, and the Italian David Di Donatello Award for Montaldo’s, “The Gold Rimmed Glasses”.
 
Thanks also to his lasting and fruitful  association with the Italian director, Giuseppe Tornatore  that he won more awards. The sweet melody of the Oscar winning "New Cinema Paradiso"  (David of Donatello Award in 1989 and Bafta Award in 1990), the soundtrack of the movie “Everybody’s Fine” (David of Donatello Award in 1991), the music as an integral part of the life of the 1900 pianist  (Time Roth) of the multi-award-winning “The Legend of 1900” (David Donatello Award and the Golden Globe Award in 1999) are all an expression and a reflection of his talent and of his artistic and musical perception. The soundtrack of “Maléna” earned him an Oscar nomination in 2001; the music of “The Unknown” and Tornatore’s chorus film  “Baaria”, earned him two David of Donatello awards (in 2007 and 2010) while for “The Best Offer”  in 2013,  he is awarded not only the David of Donatello Award, but also the European Film Awards. 
 
In 1994, he is the first non-American composer to receive a lifetime achievement award from Spfm- The  Society for Preservation of Film Music.  In 1995, he was the first composer to receive the lifetime Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival for Lifetime and “Rota” award established by “Edizioni Cam” and “Variety”, the most important periodical of American entertainment. 
 
After the multiple Oscar nominations for which he competed in 1979 for Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven”, in 1987 for Roland Joffê’s “Mission, in 1992 for Barry Levinson’s “Bugsy”, and in 2001 for Tornatore’s “Maléna”, recognition comes in 2010 when, moved and greeted by a standing ovation, Morricone receives the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement from Clint Eastwood, the same protagonist of his earliest westerns, the music of which all contributed to his success. 
 
In that same year he was the first Italian to receive the Polar Music Prize from the Swedish Royal Academy for music. 
 
He also won the David of Donatello Award for the music of the film “Jonah Who Lived in the Whale” (1993) and “Reverse Charge” (2000), received in Rome in 2012 the prestigious Golden Eagle Award for the Music Category. 
Morricone's genius, his inspiration and his artistic talent do not seem to ever fade away. 
 
His compositions continue to fuse music and movies in a single, perfect and complete framework. His career, esteemed and rich with awards and well-deserved recognitions, all reflect the figure of a musician able to expertly combine different art forms according to an emotional, engaging, and unique style. 
Who knows if this talent will succeed in being awarded once again at the 2016 Oscars for the emotions that he continues to so admirably transmit to us.

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