Morricone Recognized for Impact on Movie Music

Forty years ago, an Italian composer rode into America with the soundtrack for a western titled A Fistful of Dollars. His name was Ennio Morricone. His music had a way of sticking in the ear. It was a bit classical, a bit pop and a lot of it was just plain unusual.

Today, some 400 film scores later, Morricone remains a busy man. He's earned five Oscar nominations over his long career, without a single victory. But he's guaranteed one this year.

For only the second time in its history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is giving a lifetime achievement Oscar to a film music composer.

Film-music buff Andy Trudeau speaks with Rebecca Roberts about Morricone's work.

The Top 10 Scores of Ennio Morricone

With something like 400 scores to his credit, covering virtually every genre of film, the Ennio Morricone canon is extensive. This is a list of my 10 personal favorites.

Since many of Morricone's older scores have been reissued time and again, I won't list disc labels or numbers. A visit to any good CD shop should turn up what is currently in print.

As a general rule, you should avoid concert samplers. Much of Morricone's best known music fits so carefully to his orchestrations and performers that to hear it played in a different setting, by less than virtuoso players, is like drinking very warm beer.

Oscar Nominated Scores

Morricone's best U.S. scores cover a nice range, from the gently lyric, to action-dramatic to choral/symphonic.

  • Malena
  • The Untouchables
  • The Mission

Spaghetti Westerns

Morricone may have closed the door on writing any more western scores, but these three find him at his best. They are full of unusual instrumentations, winding melodies and often feature the superb solo work of whistler Alessandro Alessandroni and vocalist Edda dell'Orso.

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Duck, You Sucker! (aka A Fistful of Dynamite)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West

Other Scores

What a range, from the nostalgic lyricism of Paradisoto the eerie soundscape of The Red Tent. Listen to these scores and you will understand why everyone calls Morricone "maestro."

  • Cinema Paradiso
  • The Thing
  • The Red Tent
  • Once Upon a Time in America

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