In collaboration with Cinecittà, MoMA celebrates Ennio Morricone (1928–2020), one of the greatest movie composers of all time, with a retrospective of more than 35 films spanning his nearly 60-year career. With more than 17 new digital restorations as well as 35mm archival prints, the exhibition presents a rich selection of films featuring Morricone’s most renowned scores (including Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Roland Joffe’s The Mission, Bernard Bertolucci’s 1900 and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso) alongside more unsung titles (Sergio Corbucci’s Navajo Joe and The Great Silence, Sergio Solima’s The Big Countdown and Revolver, Mario Bava’s Danger:Diabolik, and Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Red Tent among them).
A rare German television program from 1967 features Morricone himself performing as part of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (“The Group”), the radically experimental collective of composer-musicians who banded together in Rome in 1964 in a utopian spirit of nonhierarchical improvisation. Morricone’s ingenious forging of classical instrumentation with new electronic technologies, musique concrète and jazz, and seriality and noise carried over into his film scoring. His self-conscious use of mouth harps, pan pipes, bells, twanging guitars, cantering drums and—ever and always—the human voice and whistle revolutionized the music of popular genre moviemaking, from Westerns and horror to operatic comedy and melodrama, and continues to influence contemporary composers and musicians as far ranging as Hans Zimmer, Angelo Badalamenti, Radiohead, John Zorn, Mica Levi, Jay-Z, and Metallica.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, and Francisco Valente, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art; and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Cinecittà. Thanks to Cineteca Nazionale (Maria Bonsanti), Giovanni Morricone, and Marco Cicala.