With this latest Life during quarantine playlist, Nick Triani pays tribute to cinema composer Ennio Morricone, who passed away this week.
Initially, it had a lot to do with my Italian origins, but in a musical sense Ennio Morricone has a place in my heart as one of my all time favourite musicians and composers. It’s been hard finding a musical hero from Italy. Certainly from a pop and rock perspective, Italy hasn’t furnished me with music I feel can hold a candle to music produced in the UK, US, France or Finland – as a rough conglomerate of nations. Morricone changed that perception of Italian music for me many years ago.
The discovery of Ennio Morricone’s music through the Spaghetti Western themes he forged with Sergio Leone‘s expressive cinema, opened a doorway into what I felt was some of the most emotional music ever made by anyone. Morricone’s passing this week at the age of 91 hit me harder than most musician deaths. The universal nature of the tributes paid to Morricone supply a valuable testament not only to his influence as a composer and arranger, but his ability to appeal to the widest of audiences.
The heart of the matter
Back in 2016, Morricone visited Helsinki for a concert and I wrote for OQM at the time ; “Is there a more recognizable composer in music than Ennio Morricone? A scream, a harmonica, Bolero guitars and a violent whip cracking all point to the Italian maestro. Of course the music Morricone composed for those cheap variations on the true American film, Spaghetti Westerns, ring through popular culture as much today as they did in the 1960s. One could also argue that no filmmaker or composer since Sergio Leone and Morricone have managed to marry as magical a line between the visual and the musical as those two did together. Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann come close and if you’re being generous, Steven Spielberg and John Williams are in with a shout. But the choreographic excellence of Once Upon A Time In The West still remains the cineasts high point in sound and vision.”
And whilst I stand by all that, those words don’t convey the pure emotion and heartfelt sincerity Morricone’s music often displayed. As was said by many earlier this week when news of Morricone’s death was breaking, much of his music outstripped the quality of the films his compositions were married with, or at the least elevated those films. But it still doesn’t explain how Ennio was able to bring so much feeling and, once again, the purest expression of emotion from so many of his compositions. As this week’s Life during quarantine playlist plays occasional tribute to one of the highest architects of composition, I can only suggest that those moving soundscapes came from an artist with the biggest of heart’s.
Nick Triani is an editor and contributor to One Quart Magazine.