ROME (Reuters) - Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning Italian composer whose haunting scores to Spaghetti Westerns like “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” helped define a cinematic era, died on Monday. He was 91.
Morricone broke his femur 10 days ago and died at dawn in a clinic in Rome, his lawyer Giorgio Assumma told Reuters.
Outside the clinic, Assumma handed reporters a death notice written by the composer himself, beginning “I, Ennio Morricone, am dead.”
In a moving one-page text, Morricone thanked his close friends and family for their companionship, naming his children and grandchildren and saying “I hope they understand how much I loved them.”
He dedicated “the most painful goodbye” to his wife Maria Travia, whom he married in 1956, saying “to her I renew the extraordinary love that bound us together and that I am sorry to abandon.”
He said he wanted a private funeral because “I don’t want to disturb.”
Born in Rome in 1928, Morricone wrote scores for some 400 films but his name was most closely linked with the director Sergio Leone, with whom he worked on the Spaghetti Westerns as well as epic crime drama “Once Upon a Time in America”.
Morricone worked in almost all film genres — from horror to comedy — and some of his melodies are perhaps more famous than the films he wrote them for.
“We will forever remember, with infinite gratitude, the artistic genius of Maestro Ennio Morricone. He made us dream, moved us ... writing memorable notes that will be unforgettable in the history of music and cinema,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Twitter.
State President Sergio Mattarella said Morricone had “greatly contributed to spreading and reinforcing the prestige of Italy in the world.”
Italian film producer Aurelio De Laurentiis said: “With Ennio Morricone goes a part of world cinema. His humility, combined with a greatness he never flaunted, allowed him to support small and big movies, giving them a unique soul that made them perfect and unforgettable.”
Morricone is survived by his wife, three sons Andrea - a composer and conductor - Giovanni and Marco, and his daughter Alessandra.
Reporting by Elvira Pollina, Giulia Segreti and Gavin Jones; Editing by Mike Collett-White