I guess there's a reason to watch the Oscars this year. Morrissey's friend/collaborator Ennio Morricone is receiving an honorary award.
Here was an article about him in the Sunday NY Times.
Here was an article about him in the Sunday NY Times.
CONTINUED...January 28, 2007
The Maestro of Spaghetti Westerns Takes a Bow
By JON PARELES
FOR many filmmakers through the years, a certain kind of pilgrimage to Rome leads to the opulent parlor of the composer Ennio Morricone. It’s the place where he has discussed grand concepts and crucial details, and often unveiled new themes on the piano, for the distinctive film scores he has written over the past four decades, from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” to “The Mission.” There are more than 400 of them, though he hasn’t kept count.
Next Saturday Mr. Morricone, 78, makes his long-overdue American concert debut with 200 musicians and singers at Radio City Music Hall. It is the beginning of a triumphal month in the United States that will also include festivals of his films at the Museum of Modern Art and Film Forum, and the release of a tribute album, “We All Love Ennio Morricone” (Sony Masterworks), with performances from Bruce Springsteen, Renée Fleming, Herbie Hancock and Metallica, among others. On Feb. 25 he will be presented with an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, atoning for past omissions. After five nominations, he has never won.
Massimo Gallotta, the promoter who is producing the concert, has been working for more than a year to present Mr. Morricone’s American debut. “It was strange for me that Morricone had never performed here in the past,” Mr. Gallotta said. “He agreed right away. And then I was lucky about the Oscar, the CD, everything.”
Mr. Morricone has given concerts periodically in Europe, including a December performance that drew 50,000 people to the Piazza del Duomo in Milan. At Radio City he will lead the 100-piece Roma Sinfonietta orchestra, along with the 100-member Canticum Novum Singers.
Everyone except Maestro Morricone, as he is called in Rome, considers him startlingly prolific. Along with his hundreds of film scores, he has composed a sizable body of concert music like “Voci dal Silencio” (“Voices From the Silence”), a cantata he wrote in response to “the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and all the massacres of humanity all over the world,” he said. He will be performing that work on Friday at the United Nations, at a concert welcoming the new secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.
“The notion that I am a composer who writes a lot of things is true on one hand and not true on the other hand,” he said in an interview at his home, speaking in Italian through a translator. “Maybe my time is better organized than many other people’s. But compared to classical composers like Bach, Frescobaldi, Palestrina or Mozart, I would define myself as unemployed.”
Maestro Morricone is a flinty, pragmatic character, but one who marvels at what he called “the strange miracle of music.” He looked like a bespectacled businessman, wearing a sport jacket, dark trousers, white shirt and tie. He greeted any generalizations about his work with a shrug, or a terse, “That is up to the audience to decide.” But through the years he has created music that is as memorable as the films it accompanies, and sometimes more so.
Audiences respond to the operatic sweep of themes like the ones he wrote for “Cinema Paradiso” and “Once Upon a Time in America.” Musicians prize the ingenuity of his writing: the unexpected harmonic turns, the odd meters (even in tunes that seem to be marches), the use of silence and wide spaces between instruments. Meanwhile hipsters and producers delight in the almost sardonic themes he wrote for films like “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion” and the striking, sample-ready timbres he has invented.
For “1900” he wrote a score that encompasses Italian folk songs and dance music as well as symphonic arrangements. “He is someone with two identities,” said Bernardo Bertolucci, that film’s director. “One is the composer of contemporary music, and the other is this composer of big epics, this popular music for movies. All his life he has been trying to nourish one identity with the other one, and it is as if the two voices were enriching each other. He has a great capacity of harmonizing in himself.”
Maestro Morricone’s parlor, in a palazzo with a view of the Campidoglio hill in the center of Rome, is a Baroque room so large that the grand piano is almost lost amid the lavishly ornamented chairs, couches and tables. A small silver frame holds a family photo full of children and grandchildren. (He has three sons and a daughter; one son, Andrea, is a composer, and another, Giovanni, is a film director.)
At one corner of the room, a doorway leads into the office where Mr. Morricone writes his music. An unobtrusive movie screen, big enough for some multiplexes, can unroll down one wall of the parlor. On the other walls an antique tapestry of the abduction of the Sabine women is flanked by surreal, turbulent 20th-century paintings full of striking colors and brooding shadows.
The room’s mixture of elegant history and menacing modernity echoes the qualities that have made generations of directors — from Sergio Leone with “A Fistful of Dollars” to Terrence Malick with “Days of Heaven” to Roland Joffe with “The Mission” to Giuseppe Tornatore with “Cinema Paradiso” and “Malèna” — seek out Mr. Morricone.