February 26, 2007 / 4:24 AM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX-Facts about Oscar winner Ennio Morricone

(Reuters) - Italian Ennio Morricone, who has composed the scores of more than 400 films including “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” won an honorary Oscar on Sunday. Here are some key facts about him:

MUSICAL BEGINNINGS

* Born in 1928, Morricone was a child prodigy and began composing music as a six-year-old. At 12, his parents enrolled him in a four-year harmony course at Rome’s Accademia di Santa Cecilia.

* He completed the course in record time and went on to perform as a trumpet player in Rome nightclubs before composing and arranging scores for Italian state television RAI by the mid-1950s.

SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

* Morricone became a studio arranger for the RCA record company from the late 1950s until the mid-1960s, arranging songs for Mario Lanza, Renato Rascel and Rita Pavone. He also provided incidental music for a number of plays, contributed songs to a revue and scored a ballet. Morricone started composing film scores with the 1961 film “Il Federale” (“The Fascist”).

* Morricone began attracting international notice in his collaboration with film director Sergio Leone on “A Fistful of Dollars” in 1964.

* He amplified the film’s plots and drama through the use of diverse arrangements and instrumentation. Jew’s harps, dissonant harmonicas, dancing piccolos, bombastic church organs, eerie whistling, thundering trumpets and oddly sung gunfighter ballads were all in his armory and became trademarks of the Morricone-Leone productions, and then of the spaghetti western genre as a whole.

* In his 45-year-long career, Morricone was nominated for an Oscar five times but never won. The nominations were for “Days of Heaven” (1978), “The Mission” (1986), “The Untouchables” (1987), “Bugsy” (1991) and “Malena” (2000).

* Morricone’s other credits include the scores for “Once upon a Time in America,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Bulworth,” “In the Line of Fire,” “La Cage aux Folles” and the 2008 release “Leningrad.”

Sources: Reuters/Billboard

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