Legendary soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone has died - here are 5 of his best film scores

Composer and conductor Ennio Morricone in 2010 (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)Composer and conductor Ennio Morricone in 2010 (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Composer and conductor Ennio Morricone in 2010 (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Legendary composer Ennio Morricone has died aged 91.

The Italian composer died in a Rome hospital having fractured his femur in a fall some days ago, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

Morricone was prolific throughout his career, soundtracking over 500 films across seven decades, including Once Upon a Time in America, The Untouchables and Cinema Paradiso.

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He received an honorary Oscar in 2007, before winning one of his own for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight in 2016.

Here are some examples of his best work:

‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’

When you first heard the news that Morricone had sadly died, this was likely the first piece of music that popped into your head.

Ingrained in popular culture, it’s almost become a musical shorthand for the Western genre at large, soundtracking everything from Sergio Leone’s masterful film of the same name to James Corden skits.

‘Once Upon a Time in The West’

Has any piece of movie music more perfectly reflected the concept of 'nemesis' than Ennio Morricone's stunning, ominous 'Man With A Harmonica' theme?

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As Charles Bronson's vengeful loner pursues the murderous Frank in Leone's 1968 masterpiece Once Upon a Time in The West, the composer's explosive, powerful work conveys the solemn thrill of someone about to dispense bloody justice - and the creeping fear of a villain whose violent past is finally catching up with him.

‘Cinema Paradiso’

Synonymous with Westerns – and in particular the ‘Spaghetti’ Westerns nicknamed after their Italian producers and directors – Morricone has provided the soundtrack to countless dusty gun battles.

But his work on Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1988 classic proved he could bring a mood to other genres too, and just as Cinema Paradiso itself is a love letter to the movies, so too is its score.

‘The Hateful Eight’

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight was such an homage to classic Western’s that getting Morricone in to do the soundtrack felt almost like a meta in-joke gone too far.

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But of course Morricone stepped up to the challenge, laying down a soundtrack of original music that evoked the best of his spaghetti Western period some 50 years earlier.

He finally got his hands on his first Oscar award for his troubles, too.


Though his Western work is iconic, there a plenty of more obscure, hidden gems among Morricone’s large oeuvre.

One such soundtrack is for 2000’s Malena, the oft-forgotten romantic comedy-drama starring Monica Bellucci which saw Morricone reuniting once again with Cinema Paradiso director Giuseppe Tornatore.

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Morricone’s score went down much better than the film itself, and was nominated for an Academy Award (the composer’s fifth and final nomination before his honorary win seven years later) for Best Original Score, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Ennio Morricone’s other masterful film scores:

  • A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
  • For a Few Dollars More (1965)
  • The Thing (1982)
  • The Mission (1986)
  • The Untouchables (1987)
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