"Western, Italian Style"
by Patrick Ehresmann
The western, Italian style, has been able to differentiate from its big American brother thanks to a specific style, of which each ingredient is immediately recognizable. The music is certainly one of the most representative elements of this.
As much as one can't speak about the Italian western without mentioning the name of Sergio Leone, one cannot evoke its music without speaking about the striking influence of its leader Ennio Morricone. Morricone's inspired scores played a prominent role in the very identity of the Italian western.
However, nothing predisposed this composer to become a specialist in that field, because the western was originally far from his favorite movie style. Morricone followed traditional studies of composition at the prestigious academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome. His primary ambition was to compose contemporary music, influenced by his master Goffredo Petrassi, but also by the avant-gardist John Cage, of whom he followed lessons in Darmstadt at the end of the fifties. However, he realized very quickly that this activity, as noble as it was, would not suffice to make a proper living. He then made a choice which would turn to be crucial for his career: he decided to become an arranger for music of variety. This activity was in full bloom at the beginning of the sixties. Thus, Morricone worked in an intensive way for the very young national television RAI, but also for the prestigious American discographic company RCA whose new blazing studios produced all the Italian "y�y�" stars of the sixties: Gianni Morandi, Edoardo Vianello, Jimmy Fontana, Gino Paoli, etc�
Morricone was very quickly pointed out for his skilful and innovative style, and soon, everyone called for his arrangements. Nobody else but him could transform with such brilliance the most ordinary melodies into true jewels which captured the ear of the audience on the radio as well as in a theatre. Indeed, RCA was also producing the soundtracks of popular movies and knew very well how to use this amazing advertising platform that the movies represented, to promote its singers � la mode, with songs arranged by Ennio Morricone of course.
Although the variety was not a major musical genre, Ennio Morricone devoted to it all his seriousness and professionalism. He always preserved this same philosophy: it is impossible for him to write one single note without a direction, a logic behind it. Therefore, on the occasion of simple arrangements, he added some inventions which were personal to him. It was his own way of justifying his true stat...
"Pasolini, A 10 years-collaboration, and even beyond..."
by Patrick Bouster
The Sergio Leone-Ennio Morricone collaboration is far from the only one to have been faithful and fruitful: apart from those with Bertolucci, Bolognini, Montaldo, Patroni Griffi, Pontecorvo, Faenza, Verneuil, Negrin, and Tornatore of course, there is this very peculiar one with Pasolini.
This partnership concerns only 5 movies, to which 2 other films must be added, 4 concert pieces, and a score to a tribute movie, summing up 12 works "in common".
Pasolini, born on the 5th of March 1922 in Bologna, is elder to Morricone (born on the 10th of Novembre 1928 in Rome). They both are from the generation which experienced World War II, colonialism and its fall, the social fights of the Sixties, all events explaining their commitments. Pasolini met Ennio Morricone in 1965 at the dawn of the composer's career for the movies, started in 1961. Successes were already there: movies based upon popular hits of the Sixties (featuring RCA artists like Gianni Morandi, following logically his huge mass of arrangements during the years before...), the very first Italian westerns.
But Morricone was already experimenting a lot and had met confirmed or promising directors. This more difficult independent cinema always accompanied him as a special need, alongside with commercial productions: westerns, "giallo"'s (Italian thrillers), and important movies like those of Bolognini...
To take part in political movies by Bellocchio, Bertolucci and others brought him a breathing and an authenticity he needed. To work for Pasolini is an implementation of this committed logic, even though, of course, he didn't share all the director's ideas and above all, his personal ways of life.
Uccellacci e uccellini
The same year, 1965, as Pontecorvo for La battaglia di Algeri, Pasolini calls Ennio Morricone for the first time, for Uccellacci e uccellini, a film starring Tot� and Ninetto Davoli, Pasolini's fetish actor.
A still young Ennio Morricone (37 years old), is malleable and Pasolini pulls the composer towards his universe and not the contrary. Pasolini, who insisted on using the music of Mozart in his films, obtained not only from Morricone to integrate a melody from the Magic Flute, but had him arrange it for solos by violin and ocarina. Already reluctant to this method, he accepted nevertheless, because oth...
Interview with Ennio Morricone
by France-Musiques (2002)
Part 1: The Mission and the Giuseppe Tornatore films
[On the question of the 4CD box compilation Io, Ennio Morricone]
It is the first time that a disc presents all the aspects from the work of a composer, in all his styles, even if some productions are only evoked, because it is impossible indeed in 4 hours and 30 minutes to show the whole life of a composer.
There are a lot of things, very representative of my occupation, and I believe it is a unique situation. The 4 CDs make up, musically and morally, a summary of the life of a composer.
You usually say: "I am first of all a music composer, and only after, a film composer." What did you mean by this?
A lot of people believe that I began with the cinema, and then started to write "absolute music"; it is not true. I began with writing "absolute music", and then I worked for the cinema because some directors called to me. I made experiences of arrangements for the radio, the television, the theatre... Therefore, I became known and was called for the cinema.
For the film The Mission, Roland Joff� wanted eclectic music...
The film story is true: it happened in the 18th century, in a period, musically, of a renewal of the instrumental music. This music is brought by a priest, playing oboe, in South America. He brings not only the instrumental music, with his oboe, but the rules of the Trento's council (1), dating from the end of the 16th century. It established some rules to put some order in the liturgical music, for which Palestrina (2) is the main responsible.
Here are the two roots of the occidental music, put in the film The Mission: the liturgical music rules and the instrumental mu...
Interview with Sonia Maurer
about Serenata Passacaglia
www.chimai.com: Can you tell us about you and about your plectrum quintet called "Ensemble Mereuer"?
Sonia Maurer: I'm a guitarist and mandolinist, playing classical and popular music since I was 7 years old (now I'm 33).
I've recorded many CDs, preferring the particular repertory of plectrum instrument, alone and with the "Ensemble Mereuer", especially stimulating composers to write for our kind of group.
www.chimai.com: Ennio Morricone wrote the Serenata Passacaglia especially for the Ensemble Mereuer. How did that happen?
Sonia Maurer: Maestro Ennio Morricone dedicated this very interesting piece just for me and for my plectrum quintet! I played mandolin in some of his movie music, so I had the opportunity to ask him to write one piece for this kind of instrument. I really didn't have any hope that he would really do it! I was wrong, fortunately.
After a first recording session, I gave him the track to listen to, and he told me how to better communicate the spirit of the Serenata Passacaglia, emphasizing its ironic aspect. The Maestro was so kind to satisfy this desire, and so we have his first (but I hope not last) piece for plectrum instrument.
www.chimai.com: Do you know if he has done that with other musicians?
Sonia Maurer: I hope that other musicians will have the same fortune as I had, but I don't know if anyone else asked him to write a piece for their group.
www.chimai.com: How is it to work with Ennio Morricone?
Sonia Maurer: He is a wonderful person, but when someone is not playing well he gets very angry. He really doesn't like to waste time.
www.chimai.com: On which film score or concert pieces have you worked with him?
Sonia Maurer: I played in Giusepp...