The great one.
Obituaries are going to be easy to find because when someone like Morricone passes, everyone has an opinion. Mine is that as much as he is loved he is unappreciated.
Think about it this way: By the time Morricone began scoring films, the art had been established and there had already been several great film composers, especially Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Max Steiner. What set Morricone apart is that film music before him, no matter how fine or inventive (like Herrmann’s score for The Day The Earth Stood Still), was still based on the standard, old model of late-romantic era Western art music of the orchestral and operatic variety.
What Morricone did was invent an entirely new way of composing for films. The concept may have been “operatic” in the sense of using different themes for different characters and situations (Once Upon a Time in the West), but what that meant was Morricone had to keep creating new melodic ideas from scratch, with no preceding models. And his genius was that he was one of the great melodists in music history, bar none. Yes, the Spaghetti Westerns, yes Cinema Paradiso and The Mission. But especially, “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears,” “Come Maddalena,” music for the Gialli films that never came to America, the disco tunes, the ballads for Sacco and Vanzetti. He did everything, and he also did so much with so few orchestral resources for so long, that his genius was clothed in the workingman’s garb of practicality. Other fine composers can be imitators, like John Williams, but no one can imitate Morricone.
(List of Morricone’s film/TV scores)
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