Primary tabs

Ennio Morricone departs this world but leaves a legacy of music


Ennio Morricone at the Estadio Bicentenario de la Florida, 2013. Photo: Gonzalo Tello cc-by-2.0

One of the greatest musical contributors in history has departed this world. Ennio Morricone was a composer, conductor and trumpet player, but his mark left on the world will endure for generations to come. Famous for his film soundtracks, the Italian musician scored over 500 films in his long career, but he also composed over 100 classical works and was the man who penned the songs of many famous artists, including Andrea Bocelli, Mina, Sting and more. 

What made this man particularly brilliant was his ability to fill a scene with music, sweeping emotions through the body and moving viewers to tears more than any dialogue ever could. His unique ability to capture drama, suspense, heartbreak or bursting passion through a few notes forever changed cinema. 

Even though best known for the unmistakable soundtrack to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, Morricone’s touch was most powerful in “Cinema Paradiso” - a film whose celebrated director, Giuseppe Tornatore, intentionally gave space to the composer’s ability to impact the audience’s heart. 

Morricone worked with Tornatore on ten films, works of art whose music was almost as much of a character as the complex and tragic personalities themselves. Maléna was a particularly impactful film by the duo, the haunting 1940’s melodies leading the scenes of Monica Belucci’s struggle in her impoverished Sicilian town. 

The list of famous directors that vied for the creative stroke of Morricone’s baton is long, notably Sergio Leone, Nino Rota, Oliver Stone, Brian de Palma, Mike Nichols, Dario Argento, Pedro Amaldóvar and many more. One of his most die-hard fans is perhaps Quentin Tarantino, who featured Morricone’s music in many of his films, most notably in the “Kill Bill” series. Finally, they were set to work together on “Inglorious Basterds” but due to production delays, it interfered with Tornatore’s film, “Baaría” and only wound up with a few Morricone tracks. It was Tarantino’s Western-style “The Hateful Eight” that got the full score from the Italian maestro which went on to win Morricone his first competitive Academy Award at the age of 87, the oldest Oscar recipient. He had been nominated 6 times over his career, but up to that point had only been awarded the lifetime achievement Oscar. Additionally, he won 3 Golden Globes, 4 Grammies, 11 Nastro d'Argentos, 6 BAFTAs and more. 

This Italian legend was no stranger to the Côte d’Azur, attending the Cannes Film Festival for decades (25 of his films were presented) and often popping to Nice for collaborations. 

David Lisnard was quick to respond to Morricone's passing, releasing the following statement:

“...Ennio Morricone has a musical signature that takes from the guts and gives an image its lightness or its gravity…[His] music was panoramic, popular and dreamlike, that of the beauty of the melodies as "revealing" Technicolor emotions.

Ennio Morricone's name and work blend into the 7th Art and Cannes bows to the genius of this artist who has departed. 

...No less than twenty-five short and feature films presented at the Cannes Film Festival have been magnified by his compositions.

When I was president of the Palais des Festivals and Congresses, we brought him in on May 16, 2002, during the Cannes Film Festival for an exceptional concert at the Palm Beach. He had conducted the Orchestre Régional de Cannes in a memorable medley of Once Upon a Time in America, Mission and Cinema Paradiso.

In 2019, the city also paid tribute to him with a concert of the Orchestre Régional de Cannes, which performed his greatest hits during the exhibition dedicated to his friend Sergio Leone, in the framework of our Ephemeral Museum of Cinema at the Palais des Festivals and Congresses.

Ennio Morricone's work will, of course, have its rightful place in Cannes in the future Musée International du Cinéma et du Festival, which will promote film soundtracks as an integral part of film creation.”

- David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes


See an interview with this master of music from the Arte channel: