In honor of his upcoming 90th birthday, Ennio Morricone, famed Italian composer on John Carpenter's The Thing and Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, was honored by the National Academy of Santa Cecilia at a concert in Rome's Audiotorium Parco della Musica.
“When I started I was ashamed to say that I was writing music for the movies. I kept it hidden,” said Morricone, who has composed scores for over 500 films.
He was initially reluctant to tell people that he created music for films, because his teacher at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia, classical musician Goffredo Petrassi, thought it to be beneath composers of the classics. When Petrassi and others at the Conservatory learned of his profession, Morricone did not stay on as a teacher, now considered to be a musical pariah by his peers.
“They made me out of the conservatory when they learned that I was composing films,” he added.
In addition to an honorary Oscar that he received in 2007, Morricone also won his very first competitive Academy Award in 2016 for his work on Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight.
His spaghetti western themes, especially those for 1967's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (e.g. the whistle-happy main title and operatic "The Ecstasy of Gold") are considered to be the gold standards of the western genre.
As for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies, he is also known for Space: 1999 (1976), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), Wolf (1994), and Mission to Mars (2000). Nevertheless, it is his soundtrack for the 1982 remake of The Thing that stands as his most famous piece in the world of genre.
Full of ominous synthesized beats that resemble those made by the human heart, Morricone set the mood of Carpenter's sci-fi thriller as no one else could.
Morricone will celebrate his actual 90th birthday on Nov. 10.