Artist News Obituaries

Ennio Morricone dies

By | Published on Tuesday 7 July 2020

Ennio Morricone signs deal with Decca in 2016

Legendary composer Ennio Morricone has died, aged 91, due to complications following an operation. His passing was confirmed by the composer himself, in a statement read by his lawyer outside the hospital where he died, titled “I, Ennio Morricone, am dead”.

With a prolific output throughout his adult life, Morricone composed scores for more than 500 films. Best known were probably the soundtracks that became his signature, for Sergio Leone’s ‘spaghetti western’ trilogy: ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’, ‘For A Few Dollars More’ and ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’.

Made between 1964 and 1966 and starring Clint Eastwood, the low budget of the films meant Morricone was unable to use a full orchestra for his soundtracks. Instead, using a limited range of instruments and sound effects, he created a score that remains innovative and instantly recognisable to this day. In 1968, a cover of the main theme from ‘The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly’, by Hugo Montenegro, topped the singles charts in the UK and US.

Morricone also composed many scores for TV shows and created arrangements for contemporary musicians including Morrissey, Joan Baez, Hayley Westernra and Paul Anka. One of his final scores was for Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ – the director having re-used many of the composer’s works in other films – which was Morricone’s first western score since 1981 and won him his first and only Oscar.

Born in Rome in 1928, Morricone wrote his first compositions aged six after his trumpet player father taught him to read music and play various instruments. He began studying at music conservatory the National Academy Of St Cecilia aged twelve, completing a four year programme in just six months.

He began writing music for radio after the Second World War, as well as taking a job composing music for singers signed to the RCA label. His first film scores came in the early 1960s, with his career really taking off after the release of ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ in 1964 – although in 2006 he claimed in a Guardian interview that it was “the worst score I did”.

In the self-penned statement announcing his death, Morricone thanked friends and family “with great affection”, and in a final message to his wife of more than 60 years, Maria, said, “I renew to you the extraordinary love that has held us together and which I am sorry to abandon”. Finally, he concluded, “I am dead, I will go quietly”.