Morricone has composed the music for a number of Academy Award-winning motion pictures including Days of Heaven, The Mission, The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso and Bugsy.
Other noteworthy scores include Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Thing, White Dog, Once Upon a Time in America, Casualties of War, In the Line of Fire, Disclosure, Wolf, Bulworth, Mission to Mars and Ripley’s Game. In the 1980s and ’90s, Morricone continued to compose music for European directors.
Morricone is associated with the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore, and has composed music for all of his films since Cinema Paradiso (1988), including Malèna (2000), The Best Offer (2013) and the upcoming The Correspondence (2016).
His more recent works include scores for 72 Meters, Karol, Fateless and En mai, fais ce qu’il te plait. Morricone’s music has been reused for television and in movies including Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill (2003), Death Proof (2007), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012). Tarantino’s upcoming The Hateful Eight (2015) will also feature for the first time an original score by Morricone.
In 2007, Morricone received the Academy Honorary Award “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.”
He has been nominated for a further five Oscars during 1979–2001. Morricone has won three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, five BAFTAs during 1979–92, ten David di Donatello, eleven Nastro d’Argento, two European Film Awards, the Golden Lion Honorary Award and the Polar Music Prize in 2010.
Morricone was born in Rome, the son of Libera and his musician father Mario. His family came from Arpino, near Frosinone. Morricone, who had four siblings, Adriana, Aldo, Maria and Franca, lived in the Trastevere quarter in the centre of Rome, with his parents.
Mario was a trumpet player who worked professionally in different light-music orchestras, while Libera set up a small textile business.Morricone wrote his first compositions when he was six years old and was encouraged to develop his natural talents.
His first teacher was Mario Morricone, who taught him how to read music and also play a few instruments. Compelled to take up the trumpet, he entered the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, to take trumpet lessons under the guidance of Umberto Semproni.
Morricone formally entered the conservatory in 1940 when he was 12, enrolling in a four-year harmony program. He completed it within six months.
He studied the trumpet, composition, and choral music, and direction under Goffredo Petrassi, who influenced him; Morricone has since dedicated his concert pieces to Petrassi.
After he graduated, he continued to work in classical composition and arrangement. In 1946, he received his Diploma in Trumpet and in the same year he composed “Il Mattino” (“The Morning”) for voice and piano on a text by Fukuko, first in a group of seven “youth” Lieder.
In the following years, he continued to write music for the theatre as well as classical music for voice and piano, such as “Imitazione”, based on a text by Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, “Intimità”, based on a text by Olinto Dini, “Distacco I” and “Distacco II” with words by R. Gnoli, “Oboe Sommerso” for baritone and five instruments with words by poet Salvatore Quasimodo and “Verrà la Morte”, for contralto and piano, based on a text by novelist Cesare Pavese.
The Dollars Trilogy was not released in the United States until 1967 when United Artists, who had already enjoyed success distributing the British-produced James Bond films in the United States, decided to release Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. The American release gave Morricone an exposure in America and his film music became quite popular in the United States.
One of Morricone’s first contributions to an American director concerned his music for the religious epic film The Bible: In the Beginning by John Huston. According to Sergio Miceli’s book Morricone, la musica, il cinema, Morricone wrote about 15 or 16 minutes of music, which were recorded for a screen test and conducted by Franco Ferrara.
At first Morricone’s teacher Goffredo Petrassi had been engaged to write the score for the great big budget epic, but Huston preferred another composer. RCA Records then proposed Morricone who was under contract with them, but a conflict between the film’s producer Dino De Laurentiis and RCA occurred.
The producer wanted to have the exclusive rights for the soundtrack, while RCA still had the monopoly on Morricone at that time and did not want to release the composer.
Subsequently Morricone’s work was rejected because he did not get the ok by RCA to work for Dino De Laurentiis alone. The composer reused the parts of his unused score for The Bible: In the Beginning in such films as The Return of Ringo (1965) by Duccio Tessari and Alberto Negrin’s The Secret of the Sahara (1987).
Morricone never left Rome to compose his music and never learned to speak English. But given that the composer has always worked in a wide field of composition genres, from absolute music, which he has always produced, to applied music, working as orchestrator as well as conductor in the recording field, and then as a composer for theatre, radio and cinema, the impression arises that he never really cared that much about his standing in the eyes of Hollywood.
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