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Italy’s Ennio Morricone, Oscar-winning composer for the movies, dies at 91

Ennio Morricone, the 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, has died. He was 91.

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 now-classic Spaghetti Westerns as well as “Once Upon a Time in America”.

A statement issued by the lawyer and family friend Giorgio Assuma said Morricone “passed away in the early hours of July 6 with the comfort of his faith”.

He remained “fully lucid and with great dignity right until the end,” the statement said.

The composer had broken his femur some days ago, said Italian news agency ANSA.

Born in Rome in 1928, 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.

After decades of being snubbed at the Oscars, he finally won an Academy Award in 2016 for his soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”.

Embarrassed that such a talent had not been recognised sooner, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2007.

Morricone’s previous Oscar nominations were for “Days of Heaven” (1978), “The Mission” (1986), “The Untouchables” (1987), “Bugsy” (1991) and “Malena” (2000).

Although he is most closely associated in the public mind with Leone’s westerns starring Clint Eastwood, Morricone’s composition for Roland Joffe’s Jesuit drama “The Mission” is considered by many critics to be his cinematic masterpiece, an epic and eclectic reflection of South America’s musical melting pot.

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