Il Maestro speaks!

By way of marking his Oscar victory last night for Best Original Score – for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight – I thought I’d post this interview I conducted with Enno Morricone, at his home in Rome, for our An Audience With… feature.

The piece ran in Uncut issue 214 and includes Il Maestro’s thoughts on Sergio Leone, Tarantino and scoring the 1978 World Cup theme.

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When visiting Ennio Morricone at home in Rome, it is necessary to observe a number of protocols. The composer, for instance, should be addressed as “Il Maestro”. During a career spanning more than 50 years, he is worthier of the honorific than most. One other thing, Uncut is told: it is considered impolite to linger too long on the subject of spaghetti Westerns. There are, after all, over 500 other film scores in the composer’s estimable repertoire. “It could have been extremely boring to write musical scores for only westerns of horror films,” he explains. “It was really exciting for me to work in all these various genres.”

The Morricone residence is a spacious apartment located in the city’s stately Monteverde Vecchio district. The living room windows look out over some of Rome’s grandest architectural achievements, including Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio and the remains of the Roman Forum, while the Trevi Fountain is only a short walk away. Inside the apartment itself – where Morricone and his wife have lived since the early 1980s – chandeliers hang from the high, coffered ceilings. Paintings mounted in handsome gilt frames decorate the walls, while a giant tapestry adorns one entire side of the living room. At 86, one year on from suffering a spinal injury, Morricone is on sprightly form. Dressed in a red polo neck, beige slacks and slippers, he peers owlishly from behind a pair of large glasses. At one point, he leaps to his feet to berate a BBC Radio crew setting up in a corner of the living room who, Morricone believes, are tampering with an electrical socket next to his hi-fi.

Through a translator, Morricone is happy to discuss his extraordinary life and career – from his earliest forays into music during the 1950s up to his present commissions. Many of his best known scores – and, he confides, some of his lesser known ones – will receive a rare public outing this month as part of his My Life In Music tour. However, with so many credits to his name, it is sadly inevitable that he is no longer able to recall one or two high-profile collaborations. Asked, for instance, about his memories of working with a certain Mancunian singer, he looks puzzled. “Morrissey?” He says, shaking his head. “No, I can’t remember him…”

  1. 1. Introduction
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