30 Most Memorable Movie Soundtracks By Ennio Morricone

In my opinion, Ennio Morricone is a musical prodigy. Perhaps this is why he got the nickname– The Maestro. Though this world-famous composer and musician is no longer

with us, his timeless music continues to brighten our days and motivate us to progress with an optimistic approach. His mastery over musical arrangements, avant-garde creativity, and incredible sound mixing has immortalized him for generations in our memories to come. So, let’s celebrate his legacy by revisiting the 30 most memorable soundtracks composed by the fabulous Ennio Morricone.

“For A Few Dollars More” (1965)

This harmonious melody illustrates Morricone’s contemporary style perfectly. He shared a special relationship with Leone when it came to composing music and produced some of his greatest hits. The title track holds beautiful themes with scintillating guitar riffs and mesmerizing vocals. The album presents the perfect concoction of the vibrating harp and chiming bells. El Indio’s symphonic watch takes you to another world while creating a clear picture of the character in your mind. The music was so unique that it was compared to Clint Eastwood’s ‘StareDown’.

“The Battle Of Algiers” (1966)

There were debates on whether to put this title on the list of scores or not, but it seemed as if we’d be committing a crime if this list doesn’t feature it. This was Morricone’s only composition that had another name joined with his in the credits. Director Gillo Pontecorvo was attributed for this soundtrack, as he composed the four notes in “Alis Theme” that, according to Morricone, were essential throughout the movie. Pontecorvo might have composed these notes, but that doesn’t disregard the fact that it was the arrangement and order that Morricone applied, which made the score a record-breaking track.

“The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly” (1966)

Leone’s “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly” was blessed with Morricone’s musical fingerprints. Morricone’s exhilarating music and Leone’s iconic Spaghetti Westerns created magic for years. Morricone’s prior work for the first two films of the “Dollars” trilogy set the foundation for this extravagant piece, and we can only fathom how colorful this music turned out to be. It is full of harmonious whistling, gunshots, feet tapping, and melodious choir, which was unconventional back in the ’60s. Morricone changed Western music with “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly” by putting his progressive mind to work and using actual animal sounds (mainly wolf howls) that are so audible in the composition.

“Navajo Joe” (1966)

It may seem like Morricone gave his best performances for Leone, but that is not true; he worked with Sergio Cabucci as well (though Leone might have been the inspiration behind the remarkable symphony of “Navajo Joe” as well). Keys that alert your ears, extreme innovation, and emotive developments in addition to the setup of the melodious mantras of “Navajo Joe, Navajo Joee” sung by a chorus put this piece on a pedestal as the most cutting-edge composition. This soundtrack was taken up by Quentin Tarantino for his film “Kill Bill,” and it emphasized the beauty of the song and Morricone’s ultimate genius once again. However, the original has a level of its own, which can never be surpassed by the “Kill Bill” remake.

Once Upon A Time In The West” (1968)

Leone and Morricone’s team worked so well that they gave the world another classic: “Once Upon a Time in the West.” This musical work of art was accompanied by Edda Dell Orso’s angelic voice, bringing the already awe-worthy work to new heights. The album gained tremendous popularity, with more than 10 million copies sold globally. The main characters were portrayed in an unheard yet incessant manner that created perfection, so much that the director would play it to boost up the actors during shooting.  This album is the undefeated winner for the position of the best blend of cinema and music.

“Escalation” (1968)

“Escalation” was subject to criticism for not being as sensational a picture as expected. However, Morricone’s music stood out due to his heavily motivated spirit. “Dias Irae Psichedelico” was one of the significant elements in addition to the perfectly-timed quietude. The “Funerale Nero” part was as if the music came straight out of the heart and through the trumpet. Jazz is so captivating that you won’t be able to stay on your feet. The music’s sound traps the audience in a soothing trance while the groovy music just showcased the versatile set of Morricone’s talent.

“Come Play With Me” (1968)

“Gracie Zia” is Salvatore’s debut performance, which unsurprisingly isn’t as memorable or remarkable as the soundtrack by Morricone. Its symbolic, playful soundtrack begins with “Guerra E Pace, Pollo E Brace”, and consists of the rhythmic percussion combined perfectly with a choir singing children’s harmony. “Inflicting pleasure” was a strategy used by the marketing team. The story portrays the sinful relationship of incest between an aunt and her nephew; hence, Morricone’s hymn-like masterpiece fits so well with the theme. If you haven’t heard ‘Shake Introspettivo’, what have you been doing with your life? The movement and the rhythm of the song will make you listen to the score ’til your ears bleed. “Come Play With Me” is a remarkable intro song that gives of the vibes of a nursery-rhyme.

“The Mercenary” (1968)

This song’s significant whistle is what give it an edge over other soundtracks, in our opinion. Morricone worked with the composer and colleague Bruno Nicolai to create “The Mercenary,” which turned out to be one of his most loved western scores, including the exemplary “L’Arena.” Tarantino later on, reused this song in one of his films. The soothing guitar course of “Liberta” will evoke butterflies in your stomach like no other.

“The Sicilian Clan” (1969)

 “Once Upon A Time In America” and “The Untouchables” came later in Morricone’s life, as he had already quenched his thirst for American westerns with Henri Verneuil’s “The Sicilian Clan.” Alain Delon, Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, and the movie’s charismatic cast are perhaps the reason behind the inspiration for Morricone’s timeless score for this movie. The jew’s harps and consistent whistling bind together the crime fiction film with Morricone’s western style. A short portion features soft jazz, which acts as a breather. Let’s not forget “The Sicilian Clan” music is known for its breathless portions, such as “Tema Per Le Gofi,” and who can forget the central repeats filled with electric guitar riffs. Once you listen, it will be on your mind for days.

“Burn!” (1969)

Gillo Pontecorvo’s “Queimada” or the more known name by the English-speaking fan base as “Burn” was loved by audiences worldwide because of Marlon Brando’s convincing acting. However, it was appreciated more for Morricone’s prodigious yet tear-jerking harmonies. “Abolisson, abolisson!”, the starting chant is representative of Morricone’s rebellious nature and high spirits. You’ll get goosebumps as the music soars higher. Morricone had a way of portraying the essence of cinematics in his melodies. The soundtrack for “Jose Delores” was an exemplary instance where he created something beautiful out of regular notes.

“The Bird With The Crystal Plumage” (1970)

Porcelain dolls appeared more frequently on cinema screens during the early ’70s in gory horror films, which were at their prime and played on almost every cinema screen. Italian films’ soundtracks were at large, mostly composed by Morricone, who was flying high with back-to-back hits and global accolades he received for his scores in that particular era. Morricone’s first few compositions for horror films were for Dario Argento’s “The Bird With The Crystal Plumage.” He was influenced by the melody of Krzysztof Komeda’s children’s song “Rosemary’s Baby” and released his spooky la-la-la lullaby for the piece “Argento.” Xylophones and trumpets can be heard in the background as if sprinkled over the harmony, generating the feeling that some supernatural being is lurking behind you.

“Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion” (1970)

Academy Award winner Elio Petri’s satirical parody was backed musically by none other than Morricone the great. The jew’s-harp, mandolin, and occasional orchestral apparatus were used together to turn the composition into sinful enjoyment. The ever-experimenting avant-garde artist that he was, Morricone implemented his creative genius mind by experimenting with the synchronizer and creating musical riffs to catch the ear of the listener. All this work led to “Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion,” which is one of Morricone’s most admired soundtracks all over the world.

“Maddalena” (1971)

Morricone was burning the midnight oil, composing new masterpieces at a rate of knots during the ’70s. He wrote a vast number of compositions that were used way after their genesis, such as the “Maddalena” theme song. Even after almost half a century since the film’s release, Morricone’s musical score has to be the only relevant or mind-blowing ordeal that came out of it. After uniting with Edda Dell’Orso’s eloquent talent, Morricone created the sensational nine-minute opening ballad. He gave a hit after hit in the ’70s after producing titles such as “Chi Mai” and “Come to Maddalena,” making that year much bountiful than others.

“Lizard In A Woman’s Skin” (1971)

This cinematic excellence is a result of Morricone pouring out his heart into a grand concerto. This genius composition was renewed along with an equally striking album cover. Edda Dell’Orso’s voice combined with the perfect chiming of church bells, breathless whistles, jazz blues, and a hint of funk creates a bewitching disturbance of sounds. These ingredients have been an integral part of almost all of Morricone’s compositions, but the structure and pattern gave it distinctness and originality. It was the contributions of the simple flute and the rich, surf music guitar riff in this work of art that makes it pure inspiration, effortlessly one of Morricone’s unique soundtracks.

“Cold Eyes Of Fear” (1971)

If you want to tune in to Morricone’s unconventional genius that even David Lynch’s films’ distorted sounds couldn’t subside, then “Cold Eyes of Fear” is the right track for you. Enzo Castellari’s thriller wasn’t a hit at the box office, but this eerie musical piece’s temperamental and unforgiving nature will make you tremble with uncanny fear. The concoction of the unnerving trumpet and chilling cello will haunt you for many nights to come. This song was intended to be so distasteful or without any symphony. “Cold Eyes of the Fear” became one of his best features in the Giallo genre.

“Cat O’ Nine Tales” (1971)

This album is in sharp contrast to Morricone’s “Cold Eyes Of Fear.” “Cat O’ Nine Tails” is album that features a fantastic blend of soulful harmonies, beautiful ballads, and the memorable theme ‘Ninna Nanna’ makes it one of Morricone’s most fulfilling soundtracks. It was Dario Argento’s second cinematic venture, and Morricone again used the powerful vocals of Dell’Orso. You may easily recognize the fearful Paranoia Prima, which was later reappropriated by Quentin Tarantino in his movie Kill Bill- Vol 1. The rest of the scores are loaded heavily with deep bass cello notes.

“Duck, You Sucker!” (1971)

For Morricone, music-making wasn’t all about Giallos. He was ready to experiment to his heart’s content and was eager to work day-in-and-day-out. He signed up for “Duck, You Sucker” to recreate his magic for Sergio Leone. The movie is also called “A Fistful of Dynamite.” Among all the scores Morricone created for Leone, this one was the most capricious. The album presents a unique blend of operatic and comical gems, and the movie’s central theme is simply out of this world. The swooning strings whisk you away to another world almost effortlessly, while Dell’Orso’s mezzo-soprano adds a surprising twist to the album. This soundtrack is a textbook example of avant-garde music.

“What Have You Done To Solange?” (1972)

The piano is simply to die for in this album. With Massimo Dallamano’s “What Have You Done To Solange?”, Morricone reached another noteworthy milestone in his musical journey by creating music that did full justice to the thrills, paranoia, and mystery of the movie. For this album, Morricone collaborated again with Edda Dell’Orso. The carousel echoes of “Fragile Organetto,” and the jazzy background score of “Una Tromba E La Sua Notte,” are the highlights of this song.

“Revolver” (1973)

This is among Morricone’s lesser-known soundtracks and was later repurposed by Quentin Tarantino for his movie ‘Inglourious Basterds’. You’ll notice the 12-minute-long title track has a remarkably vast output and layered horns–quite like Morricone’s trademark style– while you go through this album. The maestro raised the bar further with the Quasi Vivaldi, to make the album a treat for the ears.

“Spasmo” (1974)

This album stands out from the rest of the soundtracks featured on this list because of its remarkable Spasmo and Bambole movements. By far, this is the best soundtrack composed for a horror movie ever, and the last of Morricone’s Giallo scores on this list. It won’t be wrong to state that by 1974, the legendary composer had mastered producing apt tracks for Giallo movies, as he had worked so frequently with Dallamano and Argento. This album is high on emotions and drama; the synthesizer melodies’ arrangement, wind instruments, and human humming all collectively resonate so well with the realism-come-fantasy genre of this movie.

“Exorcist II: The Heretic” (1977)

Morricone’s infatuation with the horror, mystery, and unconventional genre is no hidden secret, but with the Exorcist, he attempted to reach the next level horror. Despite that the movie was a dud and regarded as a poor man’s sequel of the spectacular first part, Morricone’s score was the only saving grace–something that stood out and was appreciated nevertheless. The album starts on a high note with the mesmerizing Regan’s Theme. It later degenerates to the typical Exorcist II madness with the females wailing in “Little Afro-Flemish Mass” and the chant-laden “Pazuz.” The album ends with the relatively less crazy “Magic And Ecstasy,”; however, you’ll notice that this album features the maestro’s craziest compositions.

“Days Of Heaven” (1978)

“Days Of Heaven” was the movie that got Morricone his first Academy Award nomination. Morricone received five nominations for the Oscars throughout his career but tragically never won the award. This movie is also memorable for bringing forth the best composer-director collaboration. It was Morricone’s first movie with director Terrence Malick, for whom he produced one of his career’s best tracks. The songs fully complement the thematic inclinations of Malick and the sublime cinematography of Nestor Almendros. Though the opening track “Aquarium” isn’t Morricone’s original composition, it does set the tone for the pitch-perfect title track. After the nostalgic longing that the title track introduces you to, “Happiness” elates you with its lilting flutes, while the swaying strings of “Harvest” make the ambiance magical.

“The Thing” (1982)

This one is Morricone’s eeriest compositions. Did you know that this album was nominated for a Razzie? Rumor has it that John Carpenter stepped back from composing for this movie, and instead commissioned Morricone (Carpenter was a fan of his Giallo works), but didn’t like the music much. Perhaps this is why Carpenter used the score in bits and pieces throughout the movie. The original album of this movie contains tracks that Morricone personally selected, and we couldn’t help but notice that it features some of the legendary composer’s moodiest scores. Listen to the album with lights off and headphones on to enjoy it to the fullest.

“Once Upon A Time In America” (1984)

“Once Upon A Time In America” is among Morricone’s greatest hits, and the movie marks the final collaboration between two legends of the 20th-century cinema: Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone. The unique feature of this soundtrack is that no matter which track you choose to listen to, you’ll instantly recognize the music– it is THAT famous. It’s an iconic album, just like the movie. The opening track “Childhood Memories” uses the pan-flute heaving while the score gets immortalized by ‘Deborah’s Theme.’ Legend has it that Leone used to play the songs on the sets to help the actors get into the mood.

“The Mission” (1986)

In a 2001 interview to The Guardian, Morricone revealed that he expected an Academy Award for this soundtrack.  Even today, this album can outshine almost any other popular soundtrack.  It’s an operatic and expressive album that starts with the heavenly 2-minute-long “Gabriel’s Oboe” that instantly takes you to another world. On the whole, this is a very well-arranged album. Back then, it was reported that Morricone had a moment of self-doubt while composing scores for “The Mission,” as he believed that he couldn’t do justice to Roland Joffe’s images. Only legends can be as humble and self-critical.

“The Untouchables” (1987)

There’s no doubt that Morricone and Brian De Palma got along reasonably well, as is apparent from their repeated collaborations. If you think that the 1989 classic “Casualties Of War” is their most successful musical venture, think again– “The Untouchables” soundtrack was nominated for an Oscar, and is undoubtedly the most exceptional outcome of their partnerships. By 1985, Morricone had become too selective when it came to composing for movies and was focusing more on live concertos. However, now and then he composed music only for films that appealed to him, and showed everyone that he was still in his element. The album features one of the best themes ever composed by any musician.

“Cinema Paradiso” (1988)

Morricone is most famous for producing amazing soundtracks for crime epics, including Italian Giallo and westerns. However, with albums like “Cinema Paradiso” Morricone proved that he was well-rounded. It was his first partnership with Giuseppe Tornatore, and the legendary duo went on to create magical music several more times. The score is quite like the movie itself, as it reflects unbounded love for cinematic powers, the “Love Theme,” and “Title Theme” contain so much warmth and passion that you’ll be stunned by their impact.

 “Frantic” (1988)

Despite being one of Roman Polanski’s most celebrated works as a director, “Frantic” is often sidelined by the legendary director’s other, more famous movies. This movie brought together two great artists of their respective fields, but sadly this was the only movie where the two collaborated to create a mesmerizingly mysterious score. “Frantic” is perhaps one of Morricone’s subtler works, but his moodiness in music is also highlighted from this album. You can consider it a fusion of the Giallo sensibilities that got associated with Morricone so overwhelmingly during the 1970s.

 “Legend Of 1900” (1998)

The idea that by the late 90’s, Morricone’s music wasn’t as prolific as in the 70’s and 80’s is only true when Morricone is compared to his own works. Even after creating magical music for nearly three decades, the maestro was still far better than most Hollywood composers. He made everyone look like a beginner. During this time, he produced some of his classical scores. He won his second Golden Globe for this movie. The album boasts heavily of passionate piano and dazzling strings that tastefully capture the spirit of the film.

 “Malena” (2000)

With “Malena,” we come to the end of our round-up of the thirty most memorable Ennio Morricone soundtracks. This movie got Morricone his fifth and final nomination for the Oscars, which he still didn’t win, so voters have to give him an Honorary Oscar to save face. By the early 2000s, Morricone was a veteran of the industry, and still, he managed to describe the seductive prowess of “Malena” leading lady Monica Bellucci through his music. This is amongst Morricone’s greatest soundtracks that sublimely reflect the movie’s emotionally stirring and socially relevant themes.

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