It seems every time I open a news site I am greeted by the death of another musical great that I grew up with. What always surprises me is the age of the person in the obituary. How could Ennio Morricone have been 91? I’m only … oh yeah. CTRL+ALT+DELETE!
Morricone, who died on Monday, was in the tradition of the great film composers of the 20th century – Nino Rota, Erich Korngold, Dimitri Tiomkin, Bernard Herrmann – a classically trained composer who found fame (and fortune) creating scores for the cinema. And like that brilliant cadre of musicians his film work (almost 400 works for movies/TV/videos) overshadowed his symphonic and choral works.
In fact it was almost impossible to find performances of any of his classical pieces on YouTube. The iconic scores for The Mission, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Cinema Paradiso et al are all represented but not one of his classical compositions showed up. So as a tribute I thought I’d go with three of the better known Morricone themes played on a very unusual instrument: the Theremin. Rather than try and explain the intricacies of Leon Theremin’s invention I suggest a left click on the link in the previous sentence.
Carolina Eyck performs “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – the movie that introduced Morricone to a wider audience in 1966.
Staying with the western theme, two years later Morricone composed the theme for Once Upon a Time in the West performed in concert by Katica Illényi with the Győr Philharmonic Orchestra led by István Silló.
It took a bit of searching but luckily I came upon Tristesse Noir’s performance of the haunting “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the beautiful score of The Mission (1986), a film that, on first seeing, moved me to tears several times. Part of that emotional impact was Morricone’s brilliant score – a mixture of traditional Spanish music of the period and indigenous themes and instrumentation.
The word of July 8th is:
Obituary /ōˈbiCHəˌwerē/: [noun]
A notice of a death, especially in a newspaper, typically including a brief biography of the deceased person.
Early 18th century first meaning “register of death” (1706) then “announcement of a death” (1738): from medieval Latin obituarius, from Latin obitus ‘death’, from obit- ‘perished’, from the verb obire .