The Greatest Westerns Composer You May Have Never Heard Of: Ennio Morricone

THE UNTOUCHABLES, from left: director Brian De Palma, composer Ennio Morricone, 1987.
Director Brian De Palma and Ennio Morricone, 1987. ©Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

If you’ve ever seen a Western, or watched a Quentin Tarantino film, then you’ve probably heard Ennio Morricone’s music — even if you may not know his name!

Italian composer and Grammy Hall of Famer Ennio Morricone has contributed to some of the greatest films in Hollywood history. He wrote more than 400 scores for cinema and television and is considered one of the most prolific and greatest film composers of all time, for which he earned an honorary Academy Award in 2007. Many of these films were collaborations with writer/director Sergio Leone, a former classmate and neighbor of his in Rome, including A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America.

HAMLET, Ennio Morricone working on original score, 1990. © Icon Entertainment/ Courtesy: Everett Col

Icon Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

In addition to Leone, Morricone worked with Brian De Palma three times, composing scores for The Untouchables, Casualties of War, and Mission to Mars.

Morricone also received many Oscar nominations throughout his career, for Days of Heaven (1978), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), The Mission (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Bugsy (1991), Malèna (2000) and Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2016) – a nomination that would result in his first and only Oscar win, for Best Original Score. Though Tarantino had used his music several times before (Morricone’s music is featured in various Tarantino-directed soundtracks), it was the first time he had approached Morricone to compose original music for a film. Seems like it worked out well for both of them!

In addition to all that, Morricone’s score for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, considered one of the best soundtracks in history, inspired metal band Metallica to adapt a song called “The Ecstasy of Gold” from the soundtrack as the intro music for their shows.

Click the link below to hear a cool rendition of the full soundtrack by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra!

Some of Morricone’s lesser known soundtracks were for John Carpenter‘s 1982 sci-fi hit The Thing, and the Oscar-winning Italian movie Cinema Paradiso, a lovely movie about a filmmaker’s childhood in a Sicilian village where he was mentored by the local theater’s projectionist.


Wild West- Heroes & Villains
Want More?

Wild West- Heroes & Villains

November 2022

Celebrates the unique sense of justice, compassion and adventure in the Old West as seen on TV and in the movies

Buy This Issue