Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning composer of more than 500 film scores, has died at the age of 91.
The Italian musician leaves behind an extraordinary body of work that includes collaborations with notable filmmakers from the late Sergio Leone to Quentin Tarantino.
Morricone famously crafted a blend of music and sound effects to create stirring scores for Leone’s classic spaghetti Westerns such as “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” “Once Upon a Time in the West” and “A Fistful of Dollars.”
Leone, who died in 1989, described Morricone’s music as “indispensable,” saying it “underlines actions and feelings more than the dialogue.”
“I’ve had him write the music before shooting, really as a part of the screenplay itself,” he said.
In honor of one of cinema’s greatest names, here are five Morricone tracks you need to hear:
‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ main theme
The theme to Leone’s 1966 masterpiece about a trio of vagrants on the hunt for a missing fortune has become one of film’s most recognizable compositions.
The original score to the movie, which starred Clint Eastwood in one of his earliest leading roles, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009.
‘Days of Heaven’ – ‘Harvest’
“Days of Heaven” was Terrence Malick’s second major film, and enlisting Morricone to score the 1978 period drama was one of the best decisions he ever made.
The film, starring Richard Gere and Brooke Adams, won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and earned Morricone his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.
“Harvest” is a haunting theme based on material borrowed from the opening of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Aquarium.”
‘Once Upon a Time in America’ – ‘Childhood Memories’
Morricone teamed up with Leone again in 1984 for the director’s final feature film, “Once Upon a Time in America.”
An elegaic tale of Jewish gangsters in New York, the movie explores themes of friendship and lost love, and with its pan-pipe opening, “Childhood Memories” is instantly recognizable as the work of Morricone.
‘The Mission’ – ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’
The sweet, emotional theme of “Gabriel’s Oboe” was the standout track from the score for Roland Joffé’s Oscar-winning 1986 drama about a Jesuit missionary in the South American jungle.
‘The Hateful Eight’– ‘Overture’
In 2015, Morricone returned to the genre that made him a household name by providing the score for Tarantino’s 2015 Western.
The film’s gripping overture oozes unease, tension and horror, and Morricone finally took home an Oscar for best score.