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'He was an icon': Tributes paid to Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone

Morricone composed scores for films The Mission, The Untouchables and Cinema Paradiso.

Image: DPA/PA Images

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone, one of the world’s most prolific film composers, who has died aged 91. 

Best-known for scoring Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, the Oscar winner passed away at a hospital in Rome where he was being treated for a fractured femur following a fall, according to Italian media reports, quoting a statement from a lawyer. 

In addition to his work with Leone, Morricone composed 500 film scores, including The Mission, The Untouchables and Cinema Paradiso. 

A statement issued by the lawyer and family friend Giorgio Assuma said Morricone “passed away in the early hours of July 6 with the comfort of his faith”.

He remained “fully lucid and with great dignity right until the end,” the statement said.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote in a tweet: “Adieu maestro, and thank you for the emotions you gave us.”

Fellow composer Hans Zimmer spoke of Morricone’s influence during an appearance on BBC Breakfast.

He said: “Ennio was an icon and icons just don’t go away, icons are forever.

“It really has taken me by surprise as he was still touring. I saw him about a year ago. He seemed strong. He was conducting at the O2.”

He added: “He was a major influence on me. The first movie I ever saw was Once Upon A Time In The West. I heard the music and saw those images and I said, ‘That’s what I want to do’.”

Zimmer said Morricone’s music was “always outstanding, and done with great emotional fortitude and great intellectual thought”.

Film director Edgar Wright paid tribute on Twitter, posting a series of themes written by Morricone.

He said: “Where to even begin with iconic composer Ennio Morricone?

“He could make an average movie into a must see, a good movie into art, and a great movie into legend.

“He hasn’t been off my stereo my entire life. What a legacy of work he leaves behind.”

Film composer Daniel Pemberton, whose recent credits include Yesterday and Motherless Brooklyn, also paid tribute.

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He wrote: “The way he mixed experimental sound, heartbreaking melodies and raw emotion into everything he did made him, for me, the greatest film composer EVER and a huge influence on my work.”

Various groups from the worlds of music and film, including Film4, the British Film Institute and the Royal Philharmonic Society, also paid tribute.

A message on the Twitter account of Film4 said Morricone’s spaghetti western scores left an “indelible mark on film history”.

As well as receiving an Honorary Oscar in 2007, Morricone was nominated competitively six times, winning once for his score to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight in 2016. 

Morricone continued to tour extensively in his later years, including in Ireland.

Includes reporting by Press Association

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