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Ennio Morricone (1928–2020), Oscar-winning composer of movie soundtracks

by Linnea Crowther

Ennio Morricone was an Oscar-winning composer of movie soundtracks whose iconic music was the backdrop to films including “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

Influential soundtracks

The Italian-born Morricone was known best by many for the soundtracks he composed for Sergio Leon’s spaghetti Westerns: “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964), “For a Few Dollars More” (1965), “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (1966), and the director’s later films. But Morricone wasn’t tied to a single genre, and his compositions drove films from comedies to horror to romances and beyond. He earned an Oscar nomination, his first of six, for Terence Malick’s period drama “Days of Heaven” (1978). Morricone was nominated again for “The Mission” (1986), which has been ranked among the all-time best movie scores. He won a BAFTA Award for his memorable soundtrack to “Cinema Paradiso” (1989).

Morricone worked with notable directors including Brian De Palma (“The Untouchables” (1987), “Casualties of War” (1989), and “Mission to Mars” (2000)), Barry Levinson (“Bugsy” (1991) and “Disclosure” (1994)), and Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained” (2012) and “The Hateful Eight” (2015). It was for “The Hateful Eight” that Morricone finally won his Oscar, making him the oldest person at that time to have won a competitive Academy Award. Morricone had also been recognized in 2007 with an Honorary Academy Award. His compositions were highly influential, both in the world of movie soundtracks and on artists including Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley, and Muse.


Morricone on his creative process

“When I have to score a film, I watch the movie first and then start thinking about it. And from that moment on, it is as if I were pregnant. I then have to deliver the child, so from that moment on, I think always about the music – even when I go to the grocery store, I think about it.” —from a 2016 interview with the Independent

What people said about him

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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