Ennio Morricone is dead

Ennio Morricone is dead


norman lebrecht

July 06, 2020

The great Italian film composer died during the night in Rome at the age of 91. In hospital after a recent fall, he lived just long enough to see his beloved Italy bounce back from the Coronavirus pandemic.

He once said: I learned by observing the use of Mozart and Bach and Mahler in movies. I said, ‘This is solid, it has integrity; I want to do something similar.’ That is why I started writing my music before the film was shot.

His score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) redefined film music, far beyond the sub-genre of spaghetti westerns. He composed 70 more films, including all of Sergio Leone’s after A Fistful of Dollars and those of Giuseppe Tornatore. Exorcist 2, The Mission and Ripley’s Game are among his Hollywood credits. Many regard Once Upon a Time in America as his symphonic masterpiece.


  • Michael Turner (Conductor) says:

    A towering figure. RIP

  • A genius from a country who gave several great composers with Bacalov, Rota and my favorite the unfairly unknown outside of Italy Piero Piccioni. I hope that during the next 50 years we will play his music in the great concert halls.

  • Olassus says:

    Per un pugno di dollari (1964; Eastwood)
    Per qualche dollaro in più (1965; Eastwood, Van Cleef, Volontè)
    Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966; Eastwood, Wallach, Van Cleef)

    C’era una volta il West (1968; Fonda, Robards, Bronson)
    Giù la testa (1971; Steiger, Coburn)
    C’era una volta in America (1984; De Niro, Woods)

    and the cantata Voci dal silencio (2002)

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    A great, great composer for the cinema. He wrote so many unforgettable scores. A life well lived. Let’s give thanks.

  • Novagerio says:

    Towering is the word. R.I.P. Ennio

  • Edoardo Saccenti says:

    “He composed 70 more films”

    He composed a bit more than 70 films…almost 500, actually

  • fred says:

    he owes everything to mascagni, zandonai and the likes. He was a giant and would have been a marvellous oepra composer would he have lived 150 years ago

  • True D says:

    To the best of my knowledge he only recorded three film scores in New York and I had the privilege to play all three, the best of which was the “The Untouchables”. It was clear right away he was a great composer, and a true professional. We were all fortunate to hear his music. Thank you Maestro, and RIP.

    • RM says:

      WOW. You played his “Untouchables” soundtrack including the end credits?

      The end credits alone was the most incredible demonstration of overdubbing that I have ever heard or that has ever been made in movie soundtrack history.

      What instrument were you playing and can you describe the overdubbing process in both musical and technical terms (or at least as you understand it?)

      Thank you.

    • Save the MET says:

      Agreed, “The Untouchables” remains one of the most vital, varied, interesting and spectacular film scores of all time. It is the only film score recording I ever added to my vast music collection.

  • thekingontheviolin says:

    Great film; great music enhancing it….R.I.P.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    I’m especially partial to “The Mission,” not just as a tremendous film, but especially with a soundtrack which is among the best ever made for any movie. I was fortunate to see the movie in 70mm in a theater with unbelievable surround sound, and the effect was overwhelming–visually, sonically, musically, intellectually. It was one of the great movie-going experiences of my life (actually, I saw it three times in this theater).

    Thank you, Ennio Morricone.

    • V. Lind says:

      I agree. I saw the film in similar circumstances, and then later in a ship’s cinema. I had the soundtrack to carry on my travels.

      No surprise Gabriel’s Oboe has found its way nto many a concert hall, and has been adapted in many versions, including vocal.

      Never saw thee Leone movies, but have known the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly since childhood.

      Perhaps the greatest film composer of our age.

    • Nick2 says:

      Totally agree about the score for “The Mission”. It was no doubt helped by the superb direction of Roland Joffe and the acting of a splendid ensemble including Robert de Niro, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson and Ray McAnally . Surely one of the best cinema scores of all time.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    What a wonderful composer. Unashamedly romantic. His love theme from Cinema Paradiso is one of the most beautiful things ever written. I hope Clint Eastwood gives the eulogy. RIP.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Interestingly enough, I don’t think Morricone scored any of the films that Eastwood directed. I may be wrong, so please someone correct me…

  • Alank says:

    A truly magnificent film composer. His ability to incorporate diverse genres in a single score was unique. He was a wonderful melodist and his score to Cinema Paradiso magical. We shall no see the likes of someone like him again. RIP Maestro!

    • Don Ciccio says:

      For me the main reason why Tornatore’s films – and not just Cinema Paradiso – are watchable is due to Morricone’s music.

  • Peggy Sweeney says:

    Cinema Paradiso — I can’t hear it without crying

  • mel perry says:

    once upon a time in
    the west.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Truly the greatest film composer ever, even greater than
    Max Steiner, Korngold, Walton, and Mancini.
    I am grateful he lived such a long life and composed so many glorious scores.
    Bravo, Maestro! Milli Bravi!!

  • RM says:

    Everyone has their favorite Morricone scores (btw, my mobile ringtone has always been from the G. the B. & the U.).

    But there has always been something particularly and uniquely meaningful and moving about his melodies, orchestrations, and how profoundly they stuck us at our most deep, underlying level without a hint of feeling that we were being manipulated – always sincere and of sincere spiritual value.

    In his own way, his style of musical expression was as unique and evocative as any expressed by the great masters of “traditional” classical composers.

    He will always remain in my heart and be part of my musical spirit. What a gift he was to us all!

  • NN says:

    A great musician. It should also be mentioned that in the 60ies he was part of the avant-garde free improvisation group “Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza” working with Franco Evangelisti etc. He also arranged for San Remo. So he was open to many styles of music.

  • Jack Pudding says:

    A great composer. RIP.