He was called "The Maestro," which is what happens when you score more than 500 films and leave an indelible mark on what movies sound like. Ennio Morricone, who gained renown for scoring the spaghetti Westerns of director Sergio Leone, has died at age 91 in Rome after falling last week, reports the BBC. One of those Leone films resulted in a soundtrack dubbed "iconic" by NPR—that would be The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood. Two others, also with Eastwood, of the era: A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. Decades after those 1960s films, which are credited with making Eastwood a star, the actor would present an honorary Oscar to Morricone in 2007 for his “magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." Morricone also won an Oscar for his score of Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight in 2016.
"I understand and I know that a movie kind of belongs to a director," Morricone once told NPR. "So what I do is follow him. What I think I have done is specified, and made clearer, what the characters were feeling." The late Leone once paid him tribute with a similar point: “The music is indispensable, because my films could practically be silent movies, the dialogue counts for relatively little, and so the music underlines actions and feelings more than the dialogue. In fact, “I’ve had him write the music before shooting, really as a part of the screenplay itself," he added. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Morricone was known for his "spare focus on one instrument—like the trumpet solo in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, or the oboe, which soared over a lushly reverent backdrop in The Mission." (Read more composer stories.)