The Old West: Campfire Coffee, Cattle Drives and Ennio Morricone

The American Southwest is an expansive, awe-inspiring place to visit. One of the most amazing vistas is found in Monument Valley. It served as the backdrop for many a Hollywood western. A number of the key buildings used were structures which already existed and were temporarily modified for the film. I have stood outside some of these buildings and looked over a landscape little changed since long before the film cameras ever rolled.

Fifty years ago, an Italian director named Sergio Leone took Yojimbo, a samurai adventure story, and turned it into the film, A Fistful of Dollars.  He cast an American television actor by the name of Clint Eastwood as the lead and called upon composer Ennio Morricone for the soundtrack.  That film begat a trilogy, then quickly, a genre.

Ennio Morricone has gone on to write some of film’s most memorable music, composing more than 450 soundtracks. Once Upon a Time in the West, The Mission, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in America, and Cinema Paradiso among them.  He is currently on a 50 Years of Music tour, conducting some of his best known music.  Amazingly, this tour will mark the first time that one of the most prolific film composers in history will conduct in Hollywood.

Screenings of many of these now classic films are being held the world over, offering new audiences the opportunity to see how Morricone’s music completes the action.  Not all film music can make the transition to the concert stage.  Ennio Morricone’s music is comfortable in both settings.

Read & Listen to A Few Words with Ennio Morricone (NPR)

Read A Fistful of Movie Scores (NY Times)

Comments