a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted,
and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2007 by Fred Flaxman
"Morricone’s Memorable Melodies"
MUSIC: Morricone: excerpt from For Love One Can Die, orchestra
conducted by Ennio Morricone [Virgin Records 0 7777 86027 2 9, track 12]
[under the following]
Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman,
and for the next hour we’re going to listen to “Morricone’s Memorable Melodies.”
I’m talking about the Italian composer honored with a special Oscar for lifetime
achievement in 2007 by the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Stay with me and we’ll hear side-by-sides of Ennio Morricone conducting his own
orchestrations of some of his most famous filmscores along with interpretations
by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Michael Chertock, violinists Angèle Dubeau and Gil
Shaham, an Austrian trio called Triology and the Hollywood Bowl and Rome
Sinfonietta orchestras. In effect I’ve put together for you theme and variations
on the music from Cinema Paradiso, The Mission, Once Upon a Time in America,
and For Love One Can Die, the tune you hear in the background now.
MUSIC: fades out
Ennio Morricone was born in Rome, Italy, in 1928, into a musical family. His
father was a professional trumpet player. He himself took up the violin at the
age of six, and studied composition at seven. At ten he enrolled in the
Conservatory of Santa Cecilia. His professional life started as a horn player in
a film studio orchestra, but he was soon convinced that he could write better
music than the filmscores he was given to play, and he turned to composition. He
made an international reputation writing the music for Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti
westerns,” using exotic instruments and creating memorable melodies which
resembled popular songs.
The 1988 movie, Cinema Paradiso, while not at all a western, spaghetti or
otherwise, certainly illustrates Morriconi’s ability to create beautiful,
popular-song-like tunes. The score for the film by Giuseppe Tornatore, was
nominated for an Oscar. It is about a successful filmmaker remembering his
youth, soon after World War II, and how he discovered the movies in the company
of an old projectionist at the local theater.
We’re going to hear this beautiful tune four times, each one in a totally
different version. First as orchestrated and conducted by the composer. Second
in a piano solo version arranged by Paul Ferguson and Michael Chertock and
played by Michael Chertock. Next comes Yo-Yo Ma on the cello with the Rome
Sinfonietta conducted by Morricone, who also orchestrated this version of the
theme from his famous filmscore. And finally we’ll hear the Hollywood Bowl
Symphony Orchestra with violinist Gil Shaham.
MUSIC: Morricone: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso main title
conducted by Ennio Morricone [DRG 32920, track 12] [2:57]
MUSIC: Morricone: Cinema Paradiso theme played by
Michael Chertock from his album “Cinematic Piano” [Telarc CD-80357, track 8]
MUSIC: Morricone: Cinema Paradiso
“Nostalgia” played by Yo-Yo Ma, cello, with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra
conducted by Ennio Morricone [Sony Classical SK 93456, track 4] [1:57]
MUSIC: Morricone: Cinema Paradiso with violinist Gil
Shaham and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by John Mauceri [Philips 446
681-2, track 9] [7:48]
Music from Ennio Morricone’s filmscore for Cinema Paradiso. I played four
different interpretations. First the main title as orchestrated and conducted by
the composer on a DRG Movies compact disc. Second, the main theme as performed
by pianist Michael Chertock from a Telarc release called “Cinematic Piano.”
Third, the “Nostalgia” theme as played by cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the Rome
Sinfonietta conducted by Ennio Morricone. That was from a Sony Classical CD. And
finally, John Mauceri conducted the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra with violin soloist
Gil Shaham from a Philips compact disc.
Next I’m going to play another side-by-side, theme and variations for you, this
time using the “Gabriel’s Oboe” theme from The Mission. This film is
about a Jesuit missionary who establishes a church in the Brazilian jungle
around 1750, and then finds his work converting the Rain Forest Indians
threatened by greed and political forces among his superiors. It stars Jeremy
Irons and Robert De Niro, and won an Oscar for best cinematography in 1987.
First we’ll listen to Morricone conducting the original oboe version. Then we’ll
hear the composer’s arrangement for cello with Yo-Yo Ma and the Rome
Sinfonietta, conducted, again, by the composer. And finally we’ll hear violinist
Angèle Debeau with her group, La Pietà, in an arrangement by A. Rozankovic.
MUSIC: Morricone: The Mission: Gabriel’s Oboe, conducted
by Ennio Morricone [Virgin Records 0777 7 88051 2 6, track 2] [2:12]
MUSIC: Morricone: The Mission: Gabriel’s Oboe, played by
Yo-Yo Ma, cello, with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra conducted by Ennio
Morricone [Sony Classical SK 93456, track 1] [2:23]
MUSIC: Morricone: The Mission played by violinist Angèle
Dubeau and La Pietà [Analekta AN 2 8721, track 5] [4:00]
Music from the filmscore for The Mission by Ennio Morricone. First we
heard Morricone conducting the original orchestration for oboe and orchestra on
a Virgin Records release. Then we listened to the composer’s arrangement for
cello with Yo-Yo Ma and the Rome Sinfonietta, conducted, again, by the composer.
That was from a Sony Classical CD. And finally we heard violinist Angèle Debeau
with her group, La Pietà, from an Analekta Canadian compact disc called “Violons
du Monde / Violins of the World.”
We are honoring the music of the Italian composer, Ennio Morricone, winner of an
Oscar in 2007 for life achievement from the National Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, on this edition of Compact Discoveries. I’m your
guide, Fred Flaxman.
break not included in total timing]
Next we turn to the beautiful, romantic melody Morricone created for a film
called For Love One Can Die or One Can Die of Love (D’amore si
muore). This is one of those tunes that can get stuck in your head, playing
over and over again, it is just so catchy.
The 1973 movie, directed by Carlo Carunchio, was about a woman who committed
suicide after an unhappy love affair, leaving behind several children who evoke
her memory and reveal the reasons that led her to take her life. Not exactly a
comedy, I’d say.
First we’ll hear Morricone conducting his own orchestration, followed by a very
different interpretation by the Austrian chamber music group, Triology.
MUSIC: Morricone: For Love One Can Die, conducted by
Ennio Morricone [DRG Movies 32920, track 21]
MUSIC: Morricone: For Love One Can Die, performed by
Triology [RCA Victor 74321-54857-2, track 2]
Two very different renditions of music from Ennio Morricone’s filmscore for
One Can Die of Love. First the composer conducted his own orchestration from
a DRG Movies CD. Then the Austrian chamber music group Triology presented their
version on an RCA Victor compact disc.
OK. I’m going to do one last side-by-side, theme and variations-like
presentation of Morricone melodies. This time the subject is the score for
Once Upon a Time in America, director Sergio Leone’s epic about a quintet of
Jewish mobsters from New York who rise in the ranks of organized crime in the
I haven’t seen this movie. Perhaps that is why Morricone’s use of what sounds
like a pan pipe or recorder surprises me. I associate this sound with folk music
from Latin America or Romania, not at all with the United States. In any case,
it’s a terrific tune, and I think you’ll enjoy it as orchestrated and conducted
first by Morricone, complete with pan pipe; then with Yo-Yo Ma on the cello, and
finally with Triology.
MUSIC: Morricone: Once Upon a Time in America, conducted
by Ennio Morricone [Virgin Records 0777 7 86051 2 6, track 1] [4:16]
MUSIC: Morricone: Once Upon a Time in America, Yo-Yo Ma,
cello, with the Roma Sinfonietta conducted by Ennio Morricone [Sony Classical SK
93456, track 9] [2:16]
MUSIC: Morricone: Once Upon a Time in America, performed
by Triology [RCA Victor 74321-54857-2, track 6]
Ennio Morricone’s “Cockey’s Song” theme from Once Upon a Time in America,
performed first with a pan pipe or recorder soloist, as orchestrated and
conducted by the composer; then the same theme performed by Yo-Yo Ma on cello
with the Rome Sinfonietta Orchestra conducted again by Morricone, who also did
that orchestration of his theme; and finally by an Austrian string trio
appropriately called Triology.
Morricone wrote more than 400 filmscores. Some sources put it at more than 500.
Some of them are heavily classically influenced. Some make use of jazz, bosa
nova, folk music sounds and other styles. But in going through I don’t know how
many of his pieces to select my favorites for this hour, I noticed that several
of his filmscores make use of a whistler and others of a female singer who uses
her voice as though it were an instrument of the orchestra. It turns out that he
used the same singer, Edda Dell’Orso, and the same whistler, Alessandro
Alessandroni, in these various scores.
Here, for example, is an excerpt from the filmscore to the 1971 motion picture,
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin called Sun on the Skin which well
illustrates Morricone’s use of vocalization.
MUSIC: Morricone: excerpt from A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin:
Sun on the Skin, conducted by Ennio Morricone [DRG Movies 32930, track 11]
And here is an example of Morricone’s use of a whistler as a soloist with an
MUSIC: Morricone: excerpt from Senza Movente (Without
Apparent Motive) conducted by Ennio Morricone [DRG Movies 32920, track 20]
An excerpt from Ennio Morricone’s filmscore for Without Apparent Motive.
That was from a DRG Movies compact disc.
That brings to an end this hour of Compact Discoveries, which I called
“Morricone’s Memorable Melodies.” We heard themes from his filmscores from
Cinema Paradiso, The Mission, For Love One Can Die, Once Upon a Time in America,
and clips from A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, and Without Apparent
Motive. For the most part the themes were orchestrated and conducted by
Morricone himself, but I did play different arrangements performed by Triology,
Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Michael Chertock, Angèle Dubeau and La Pieta, and the
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. For a transcript of this program including information
on the CDs used, please visit compactdiscoveries.com.
All of the memorable melodies by Morricone which were heard in this hour were
original, but I know of at least one case where he borrowed a tune from another
composer. One you may have heard of. His name was Ludwig von Beethoven. We’ll go
out with the theme from “With Serene Joy” from the motion picture Smile of
the Great Temptress. Any resemblance to the “Ode to Joy” conclusion of
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is purely intentional.
MUSIC: Morricone: With Serene Joy from Smile of the Great
Temptress, conducted by Ennio Morricone [DRG Movies 32930, track 15]
[under the following]
I’m Fred Flaxman hoping that you enjoyed these selections and that you’ll let me
hear from you about this or other Compact Discoveries programs. I can be
reached through the Compact Discoveries website.
I’d like to thank ArkivMusic.com for supplying most of the recordings used in
this hour, and Sally Valenti of the Italian Cultural Society in Boyton Beach,
Florida, for her help with Italian pronunciations. If I’ve mangled them, Sally,
it’s not your fault!.
Compact Discoveries is distributed internationally by the Public Radio
Exchange, and Compact Discoveries
programs can be streamed on demand at their website: www.prx.org. This program
was produced in Weaverville, North Carolina. It was made possible by the
financial support of members of public radio station WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach,
MUSIC: finishes at 57:30
ANNOUNCER: Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by
Story Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor,
selected and edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at bretnor
dot com, b-r-e-t-n-o-r dot com.... and by... Educate Yourself for Tomorrow,
an on-line guide to 37 different Liberal Arts courses for personal development,
including “Mozart and the Evolution of Western Music.” On the web at
PROGRAM ENDS AT 58:00