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Ennio Morricone — Prolific, Influential Composer — Dead at 91

Morricone — known for scoring spaghetti Westerns and more than 500 films — died Monday in Rome

Italian composer Ennio Morricone — known for scoring spaghetti Westerns and more than 500 films — died at 91.

Flavio Lo Scalzo/AGF/Shutterstock

Italian composer Ennio Morricone — known for scoring spaghetti Westerns and more than 500 films — died Monday in Rome at the age of 91. His lawyer, Giorgio Assumma, confirmed his death after Morricone fell and fractured his femur last week, according to the New York Times.

Morricone had a diverse and impressive resume, having scored films for the likes of Quentin Tarantino, John Carpenter and, of course, Sergio Leone’s Sixties spaghetti Westerns: The Dollars TrilogyA Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), starring Clint Eastwood. He also scored Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984).

Carpenter remembered his former collaborator on Twitter: “A friend and collaborator, his talent was inestimable. I will miss him.” Fellow composer Hans Zimmer also credited Morricone as an inspiration: “Ennio was an icon and icons just don’t go away, icons are forever. The first movie I ever saw was Once Upon a Time in the West. I heard the music and saw those images and I said, ‘That’s what I want to do’.”

Morricone won his first Academy Award in 2016 for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. He won a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2007 and was nominated for five other Academy Awards. “As far I am concerned, [he] is my favorite composer — and when I say ‘favorite composer,’ I don’t mean ‘movie composer,’ that ghetto, I’m talking about Mozart … Beethoven … Schubert,” Tarantino said while accepting the award on Morricone’s behalf. “I have to say that I directed the movie … [so] I say thank you, and grazie, grazie.”

“Fifty, almost 60 years have passed since I started working with Sergio Leone or in the Western movies of the past,” Morricone told Rolling Stone of working on The Hateful Eight. “My ideas about music have changed. I really wanted to do something totally different from what I had done not only with Sergio Leone but also with Sergio Corbucci and all the other Western directors I had worked with. It is incomparable.”

Morricone was born in Rome on November 10, 1928, and wrote his first works at age six. He went on to study trumpet, composition and direction at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia. According to the Times, the composer never left Rome when working on compositions and did not visit the U.S. until 2007.

“The notion that I am a composer who writes a lot of things is true on one hand and not true on the other hand,” Morricone once told the Times. “Maybe my time is better organized than many other people’s. But compared to classical composers like Bach, Frescobaldi, Palestrina or Mozart, I would define myself as unemployed.”

“Maestro Morricone’s melody will haunt me the rest of my days,” Roger Waters said of Morricone. The two worked on the song “The Lost Boys Calling” together, off of the soundtrack for 1998’s The Legend of 1900. “The spotlight fades the boys disband. The final notes lie mute upon the sand. And in the silence of the grave. I can still hear those lost boys calling.” The remembrance comes courtesy of the Association of Italian Film Composers, of which Morricone was presidents and Waters was an honorary member.