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Ennio Morricone — Prolific, Influential Composer — Dead at 91

Morricone — known for scoring spaghetti Westerns and more than 500 films — died Monday in Rome

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Brenna Ehrlich Jul 06, 2020

Italian composer Ennio Morricone — known for scoring spaghetti Westerns and more than 500 films — died at 91. Photo: Flavio Lo Scalzo/AGF/Shutterstock

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Italian composer Ennio Morricone — known for scoring spaghetti Westerns and more than 500 films — died Monday in Rome at the age of 91. His lawyer, Giorgio Assumma, confirmed his death after Morricone fell and fractured his femur last week, according to the New York Times.

Morricone had a diverse and impressive resume, having scored films for the likes of Quentin Tarantino, John Carpenter and, of course, Sergio Leone’s Sixties spaghetti Westerns: The Dollars Trilogy — A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), starring Clint Eastwood. He also scored Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984).

The composer won his first Academy Award in 2016 for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. He won a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2007 and was nominated for five other Academy Awards. “As far I am concerned, [he] is my favorite composer — and when I say ‘favorite composer,’ I don’t mean ‘movie composer,’ that ghetto, I’m talking about Mozart … Beethoven … Schubert,” Tarantino said while accepting the award on Morricone’s behalf. “I have to say that I directed the movie … [so] I say thank you, and grazie, grazie.”

“Fifty, almost 60 years have passed since I started working with Sergio Leone or in the Western movies of the past,” Morricone told Rolling Stone of working on The Hateful Eight. “My ideas about music have changed. I really wanted to do something totally different from what I had done not only with Sergio Leone but also with Sergio Corbucci and all the other Western directors I had worked with. It is incomparable.”

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Morricone was born in Rome on November 10, 1928, and wrote his first works at age six. He went on to study trumpet, composition and direction at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia. According to the Times, the composer never left Rome when working on compositions and did not visit the U.S. until 2007. Still, he worked largely in Hollywood, composing for numerous films, TV shows like The Sopranos and working with musicians like Joan Baez and Paul Anka.

“The notion that I am a composer who writes a lot of things is true on one hand and not true on the other hand,” Morricone once told the Times. “Maybe my time is better organized than many other people’s. But compared to classical composers like Bach, Frescobaldi, Palestrina or Mozart, I would define myself as unemployed.”

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