Another week gone – where does the time go? – and Sunday has come round. Am I ready? YES! And what a show is waiting for you: one of the greats of movie music.
Before we start you need a large coffee, a comfy chair. Sit down and relax and the music will visit you.
The Mission: On Earth as it is in Heaven
Unsurprisingly this carries a spiritual air but you don’t need me to say any more.
The music starts after 10 secs.
Ennio was born in Rome in late 1928 to Mario – a jazz trumpeter - and Lobera Morricone [Source]. He must have shown great talent very young because, when 12, he studied music at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome
Cinema Paradiso: Final Theme
One of my favourite films and this music brings the story back.
This couldn’t be anything but a film a score with its large sweeping strings but this is so much more ….
Morricone was a classmate of Sergio Leone with whom he would collaborate on spaghetti Westerns.
Maddelena / Le Professionel: Chi Mai
I knew this piece but had no idea of its origins. This was used first in Maddelena and later in Le Professionel.
At the Music conservatory he was urged to focus on composition: great advice.
Once upon a Time in the West: Jill’s America
The beautiful Claudia Cardinale is ‘Jill’.
Again the strings’ sound could only mean a film but what a wonderful sound. The music gives me a picture of openness, as though of the vastness of the ‘Wild West’.
Coming up next is one of his most famous pieces and remember you can have a break after this, our fifth, track.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Theme
What can one say about this – a collaboration with Sergio Leone.
This is so evocative. The music describes the film.
“The spaghetti Westerns only comprised a phase of Morricone's career, but for many his work in this field remains his best and most innovative. Morricone amplified the film's plots and drama through ingenious use of diverse arrangements and instrumentation. Jew's harps, dissonant harmonicas, dancing piccolos, bombastic church organs, eerie whistling, thundering trumpets, oddly sung gunfighter ballads, and ghostly vocal choruses -- all became trademarks of the Morricone-Leone productions, then of the spaghetti Western genre as a whole.” [Source]
Half-time. I’m having a short break if you are. Stretch your legs, top up your coffee and then relax once more before we get the second half under way.
That’s my quick snack finished – cheese roll, always a cheese roll. Let’s go.
Malena: Titon Di Coda
I had never heard the music before; in fact, the film itself was new to me.
This is a very moving piece. Unlike many of the other pieces which are expansive this, in the main, is tight and close. I love this.
“Ennio Morricone is probably the most famous film composer of the 20th century. He is also one of the most prolific composers working in any medium. No exact figure is available, but he's scored several hundred films over the past several decades, perhaps as many as 500.” [Source]
The Mission: Gabriel’s Oboe; The Falls Yo Yo Ma
Two tracks here: the first the very famous Gabriel’s Oboe and the other, ‘The Falls’ both with Yo Yo Ma’s cello to the fore.
O! The soaring cello in ‘oboe’.
‘The Falls’ start so heavily and threateningly and then at 3m 25s, the music tip-toes slowly and securely as though one was afraid of what was lurking. At 4m 15s the music changes again to be confident and then the ‘oboe’ theme comes in once more. I don’t know why I’ve been able to write this detail about only this piece.
“Morricone's palette is extraordinarily diverse, drawing from classical, jazz, pop, rock, electronic, avant-garde, and Italian music, among other styles. Esteemed by such important figures in modern music as John Zorn (not to mention contemporary directors like Martin Scorsese), he is increasingly placed among not just the finest soundtrack composers, but the most important contemporary composers of any sort.” [Source]
The Legend of 1900: The Crisis
This creates the feeling of crisis with its repeated dissonant chord. This chord assumes greater and greater importance as the piece progresses.
Despite the subject matter this touches me. No! Batters me!
I have read somewhere that Sergio Leone got Morricone to write the scores before filming and that he played the music to the actors during scenes.
Another film whose subject matter is held up for us to hear in this vey clever and lovely piece. Gunshots and the loneliness of the mercenary made plain for us through the solo whistler and trumpet.
A very powerful composition.
IMDb said this:
“It's been felt by some that he was deprived of a possible Academy Award when the U.S. distributor of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984) failed to file the paperwork so the score could be considered for nomination. This score is still regarded as one of his best.”
Once upon a Time in the West: Finale
I didn’t know the above when I chose this as the last track. Clearly I’m in good company!
There is a spiritual air to this. Excuse me while I fly on this magic carpet to a place I’ve never seen. Close your eyes and fly with me.
Wonderful, don’t you think?
The show is over but those who have heard Morricone’s music will never forget it.
A master has written and we have listened. Many thanks, Ennio
If you have enjoyed this week please pop over again next Sunday. Each week’s Sunday Morning Coffee is available on my YouTube channel.