Anyone who is a fan of movies set in the American Wild West, specifically the “Spaghetti Western” movies produced and directed by Italian filmmakers, would be most familiar with the “Dollars” trilogy of films from director Sergio Leone and starring American badass Clint Eastwood. Another familiar element of these movies aside from Eastwood’s portrayal of the “Man with No Name” is the haunting, whistling theme tunes and background music courtesy of Italian composer Ennio Morricone. His work in this genre was said to have inspired a wide variety of musicians from rock bands to videogame composers. Now, said music looks to be elevated further with the passing of Morricone himself.

Newsweek tells us that legendary Spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone has passed away this Monday, July 6, at the age of 91. Italian news sources report that Morricone had taken a bad fall in Rome last week which resulted in a femoral injury to which he had later succumbed as confirmed by his family. His wife Maria Travia, with whom he had four children, has expressed their desire to make the composer’s funeral a private affair, explaining that it in respect for Morricone’s “feeling of humility that has always inspired the acts of his existence.”

Born in 1928 as a lifelong resident of Rome, Italy, Ennio Morricone showed prodigious talent in music, learning to play the trumpet and composing by the time he was six years old. At elementary school he became good friends with Sergio Leone. Their directorial-music tandem as adults would rock the world. This is exemplified by the immortal Western tunes from “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964), “For a Few Dollars More” (1965) and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966). A haunting background piece from the third film, “Ecstasy of Gold,” would be the subject of homage by the likes of Metallica and Japanese composer Michiko Naruke, particularly for the 1996 Playstation videogame “Wild ARMS.”

Morricone would compose a total of more than 400 television and cinematic scores, cementing his reputation and legacy as one of the biggest modern composers. He has also received accolades for his work from his native Italy and abroad, from the David di Donatello Awards to the Oscars itself, receiving an honorary Academy Award (2007) and then winning competitively for Best Original Score (2015’s “The Hateful Eight” from Quentin Tarantino).

Image courtesy of The Independent