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Grazie Maestro Morricone

Ennio Morricone.JPGIf you think that Ennio Morricone’s music is lowbrow or no more than derivative, you can stop reading right now. But if his compositions have made you pause or feel ecstasy or led you to rock rhythmically in your chair as if you were on a horse galloping across the High Plains, then you would have been moved at the Paris concert on October 2 that was part of the Maestro’s farewell tour. The sold-out crowd at the Palais des Congrès applauded Morricone for five minutes when he came on stage, and we stood and applauded at intermission and for four or five encores. The artists, too — a choir of over eighty singers and at least the same number of musicians — played with an intensity that seemed to come from a gratitude for all of the emotions that the Maestro has provoked in filmgoers over the years. At 87, Morricone moves with a little difficulty, and he sits in a chair when he conducts, but the pieces played and sung on the stage had all the verve that animated Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Philippe Noiret, Kevin Costner and many other actors on the big screen:

Morricone Concert.jpg

It has never taken me more than a few minutes in a movie to recognize that the music has been composed by Morricone, even if I have never heard it before. His compositions seem part of a drama rather than background to it. For good reason were Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns considered to have given real meaning to the Hollywood term horse opera.

If I ever were to meet the man, I’d want to ask him if he has been happy in his life. I like to believe that music of such joy comes from a deeply contented soul.

Addendum: Sure it’s over the top, but what other movie in any genre has a five-minute-long scene with no dialogue?

I first saw The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (Le Bon, La Brute et Le Truand in France; Il Buono, Il Brutto e Il Cattivo in Italy) at a midnight arthouse showing in Montreal. We sat in the first row, and the music was a little too loud. No matter. Though we had consumed no alcohol nor taken drugs of any kind, we were quite high from the sound and the color and the fury.

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