Ennio Morricone: Oscar-winning Italian film composer dies aged 91

Ennio Morricone, the Italian composer whose credits include the “spaghetti” Westerns that made Clint Eastwood a star, has died in Rome aged 91.

Click here to take a look back at some of Ennio Morricone’s most famous scores

According to Italian news agency Ansa, he died in hospital having fractured his femur in a fall some days ago.

The prolific composer also wrote music for Once Upon a Time in America, The Untouchables and Cinema Paradiso.

Having received an honorary Oscar in 2007, he went on to win one in 2016 for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.

Morricone, who was simply known as “Maestro” in his home town of Rome, scored more than 500 films over seven decades.

Ennio Morricone with Quentin TarantinoImage copyright AFP
He won an Oscar after scoring Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

Yet he remains best known for the haunting melodies he wrote for the trilogy of 1960s westerns Sergio Leone made with the then little-known Eastwood.

A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly centred around Eastwood’s taciturn gunslinger, known as “The Man With No Name”.

Leone called the composer’s contributions “indispensable” and would have him write the score before shooting so he could design his shots around Morricone’s contributions.

Eastwood went on to direct Westerns himself, including the Oscar-winning Unforgiven, but Morricone did not write music for them out of loyalty to Leone.

In a 2014 interview with the BBC’s arts editor Will Gompertz he expressed regret for his decision, admitting he had missed out on “a great opportunity”.

Before his win for The Hateful Eight, Morricone received Oscar nominations for Days of Heaven, The Mission, The Untouchables, Bugsy and Malena.

His death was marked by Italian health minister Roberto Speranza, who tweeted: “Adieu maestro, and thank you for the emotions you gave us.”

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday, fellow composer Hans Zimmer said Morricone was “one of a kind” and “an icon”.

“His music was always outstanding and done with great emotional fortitude and great intellectual thought,” he continued.

According to director Edgar Wright, Morricone “could make an average movie into a must see, a good movie into art, and a great movie into legend”.

Author Joanne Harris also paid tribute, remembering an encounter with him at the Baftas when all she had been able to utter was “Sono una fan” (“I’m a fan”).


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  1. Morricone was a one off and true master. He created the most beautiful and heartfelt melodies, accompanied by such sweeping, majestic scores the emotional impact can be overwhelming. His ear for a lovely tune rivals McCartney in my opinion.

    Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” was already a fantastic film. But with the addition of Ennio’s soundtrack it’s also a ravishing, exquisite sonic experience. A great film became an all-enveloping cinematic masterpiece. Countless other films were similarly elevated with a Morricone score.

    I’m so glad I got to see him twice at the O2 in recent years and witness his genius. No arrogance or self-importance, and we got to hear all of his “greatest hits”! One of the twentieth century’s musical greats…RIP

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