Remembering Morricone: Ten of the Italian composer's greatest film scores

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected]
Remembering Morricone: Ten of the Italian composer's greatest film scores
Ennio Morricone conducting in 2016. Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva / AFP

As Italy remembers legendary composer Ennio Morricone, who has died at 91, here are some of his most memorable film moments.


While Morricone is best known for scoring Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, the classically trained composer was at ease in seemingly every musical and cinematic genre.

READ ALSO: Famed Italian film composer Ennio Morricone dies

Over a 50-year career, Morricone's music was a key part of some 500 films from comedy to horror, made in Italy, Hollywood and beyond.

"It was essential that I change my style for every film," the composer, conductor and trumpet player said in 2017. "Every movie required it."

Here are ten of Morricone's works that show just how much he contributed to cinema history.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Morricone's distinctive theme, said to recall the howling of a coyote, is one of the most memorable in film history.

The soundtrack was among the top five bestselling albums of 1968 and was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame 50 years later.

The Battle of Algiers

The urgent, drum-led score that drives this neorealist account of Algerian rebels' war of independence with the French was a collaboration between Morricone and director Gillo Pontecorvo.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Morricone scored Italian director Dario Argento's debut thriller, as well as his next two films in the same 'Animal Trilogy'.

Part of his score would later be reused by Quentin Tarantino, one of Morricone's biggest fans.

La Cage aux Folles

Morricone went back to his early days as a composer and arranger of pop songs for the summery soundtrack to this French-Italian comedy.

Days of Heaven

His work on Terence Malick's historical romance earned Morricone his first Oscar nomination in 1979, though it would be another 40 years before he actually won an Academy Award.

Once Upon A Time in America

The composer teamed up with Leone again for this tale of New York gangsters, 16 years after he wrote the score for the director's 'Once Upon A Time in the West'. 

While the soundtrack is considered one of Morricone's finest, it missed out on an Oscar nomination after the studio accidentally cut his name from the opening credits while trying to trim down its length, thus rendering him ineligible.

Cinema Paradiso

Morricone co-wrote the soundtrack to this Oscar-winning Italian classic with his son, Andrea, who followed in his father's footsteps as a film composer.


The Mission

Morricone's Oscar-nominated score for this period drama about 18th-century Jesuit missionaries in South America showed the full breadth of the composer's talents.

It incorporates liturgical music and indigenous instruments, as well as lyrics in Latin written by his wife and collaborator, Maria Travia.

The Untouchables

Morricone was once more nominated for an Oscar for his staccato, jazz-inspired soundtrack to Brian De Palma's Prohibition-era crime drama. While he didn't win the Academy Award, he did take home a Grammy.

The Hateful Eight

The score that eventually won Morricone an Oscar – following his honorary lifetime achievement award in 2007 – was for Tarantino's 2015 western. 

The director had been trying to persuade Morricone to work on one of his films for years, and eventually succeeded. It was the first time he had scored a western in more than 30 years, and would be the last.




Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also