RIP: Ennio Morricone, iconic film composer, has died at 91

BTS still from 'The Hateful Eight' via MoviestillsDB

Ennio Morricone, one of the cinema’s great composers, has died from complications resulting from a fall that fractured his hip, according to Variety. He was 91.

Born in 1928 in Rome, Morricone took to music like a young Mozart. His father was a trumpeter, and he followed in his footsteps, composing his own music at an age when some are still learning how to add and subtract. He’d meet Sergio Leone when he was 8 and the two were schoolmates, and the pair would reconnect two decades later to forever change the pop culture as we know it.

Following World War II, Morricone, having graduated from the San Cecilia Conservatory, began working as a composer for radio dramas, plays and as an arranger for RCA, where he’d work with the likes of Chet Baker and Charles Aznavour. In 1961, he’d get his first chance to score a film, Luciano Salce’s Il Federale, thanks to his prior work with the director on a number of his stage endeavors.


Just three years and 12 scores later, he’d be hired by Leone to score A Fistful of Dollars, the composer’s first Western, and it would be the beginning of a beautiful and iconic partnership, one which would span decades. Morricone’s scores for films like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West are, essentially, as synonymous with the genre as “The William Tell Overture.” His favorite of their works together would be Leone’s crime epic Once Upon a Time in America, which would release in 1984, and is a perfect choice for those looking for something to watch in tribute.


But Morricone was so, so much more than Leone’s composer. He’d work on over 500 film scores in the course of his career, which would span over five decades in length. He’d work with directors like Lina Wertmuller, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Bernardo Berlotucci, Sergio Corbucci, John Huston, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Sergio Sollima, Don Siegal, Mikhal Kalatozov, Liliana Cavani, John Boorman, Terrence Malick, Samuel Fuller, John Carpenter, Roland Joffe, Brian De Palma, Giuseppe Tornatore, Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar, Franco Zeffirelli, George Miller, Wolfgang Peterson, Mike Nichols, Adrian Lyne, Oliver Stone, Warren Beatty, and Quentin Tarantino, who had previously sampled his previously-recorded work in a number of his other films (other directors, including Alexander Payne, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood, and the Hughes Brothers lifted cues from his work as well).


He’d be nominated for six Oscars over the course of his career, for his work with Malick (Days of Heaven), Joffe (The Mission), De Palma (The Untouchables), Levinson (Bugsy), and Tornatore (Malena). He’d finally win his Oscar in 2015, for his collaboration with Tarantino on The Hateful Eight, nearly 40 years after his first nomination. Most would say that was a bit too long coming, but Morricone was the kind of icon who didn’t need laurels from award-giving bodies. He, instead, changed the culture itself.


Morricone was a legend, and he will be missed dearly, though he’s left behind a body of work that is so large that even the most ardent fan probably hasn’t heard all of it.