A jaunty electric guitar riff. A wailing harmonica. A powerful vocal crescendo. The unique elements of an effective film score make it instantly recognizable, sometimes even more so than a famous actor’s face. Such is the case for many of the over 500 original film and television scores written by Italian composer Ennio Morricone (1928–2020), the so-called Maestro of film music, who, according to composer John Zorn, “was always open to trying new sounds, new instruments, new combinations—rarely drawing from the same well twice.”
Ennio Morricone developed his ear at a young age as cultivated by his musician father, who encouraged his studies on the trumpet. Though he started his career in television, providing music for Italy’s first-ever broadcast in 1954 on through contemporary productions, Morricone is best remembered for his film scores, most specifically his collaborations with Dario Argento, Sergio Leone, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Elio Petri, and Giuseppe Tornatore in his native Italy, and Brian De Palma, Terrence Malick, and Quentin Tarantino in Hollywood. Over a career spanning eight decades, Morricone’s influence on cinema music will be felt for generations to come.
This series presented by Cinecittà at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles, offers an overview of many iconic scores from across the Maestro’s multifaceted career. It begins with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once upon a Time in the West by Sergio Leone, followed by The Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo, The Lizards by Lina Wertmüller, Teorema by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Fists in the pockets by Marco Bellocchio, That Splendid November by Mauro Bolognini, Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion and A Quiet Place in the Country by Elio Petri, Sacco e Vanzetti by Giuliano Montaldo, Two Mules For Sister Sara by Don Siegel, 1900 by Bernardo Bertolucci, The Desert of the Tartars by Valerio Zurlini, Allosanfan by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage by Dario Argento, and Once Upon a Time in America by Sergio Leone.