Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020

Morricone in Cannes, 2012. Photo: Georges Biard (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Italian composer Ennio Morricone is dead at 91.

Morricone acquired fame scoring Westerns but transcended genre to become one of the world's masters of the form.

"His music was always outstanding," writes Hans Zimmer, "and done with great emotional fortitude and great intellectual thought."

His 1960s scores for Sergio Leone, backing a moody Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy, were huge successes and came to define him: with their whistling melodies, and blend of symphonic elements with gunshots and guitars, they evoke the entire western genre. “The music is indispensable, because my films could practically be silent movies, the dialogue counts for relatively little, and so the music underlines actions and feelings more than the dialogue,” Leone has said. Morricone has said his own best work was for Leone’s 1984 film Once Upon a Time in America.