Ennio Morricone, the Italian composer who wrote the iconic theme tune to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, has died aged 91.
His death was confirmed by his lawyer, Giorgio Assumma, who said he died in a hospital in Rome early on Monday.
Morricone is understood to have died from complications following a fall, in which he broke his leg.
A prolific composer, he wrote more than 400 original scores for feature films and over 100 classical works.
Known as ‘The Maestro’, he began writing music at the age of 6, and went on to win two Oscars, several Grammys, Golden Globes and BAFTAs and numerous David Di Donatello Awards – Italy’s highest film honours.
In a career spanning decades, he worked with Hollywood directors including Quentin Tarantino, Brian de Palma and Gillo Pontecorvo.
But perhaps his best known collaboration was with late Italian film director Sergio Leone, who he went to school with as a child.
Morricone wrote the iconic coyote-howl theme to Leone’s 1966 Spaghetti Western The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, a tune that is recognised across the world.
For Leone’s 1969 classic Once Upon A Time In The West, Morricone created a few simple notes on the harmonica, which became instantly associated with the film.
Aside from so-called Spaghetti Westerns, he composed for 1986 British period drama The Mission,1987 American gangster movie The Untouchables and 1988 Italian coming-of-age story Cinema Paradiso.
However, his chance to score 1971 film The Clockwork Orange was scuppered when Leone told Stanley Kubrick the composer was too busy finishing up the music to one of his films. This turned out not to be the case.
Morricone won an Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2007 followed by an Oscar for best original score in 2016 for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.
Accepting his 2016 Oscar, the modest composer told the audience: “There is no great music without a great film that inspires it.”
Two years later, Morricone threatened to sue the German edition of Playboy after they published an interview which included disparaging remarks about both Tarantino and the Academy Awards, which he said he never made.
Born in 1928 to a trumpet-playing father, Morricone’s first instrument was also the trumpet.
He attended the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, where he studied under Goffredo Petrassi, a major Italian composer.
He went on to compose music for radio dramas and plays, and perform in orchestra’s creating film soundtracks. He then worked for an Italian record company, before he was offered his first composing job in 1961.
He had a love of using unconventional instruments in his music including mariachi trumpets, mouth harps and ocarinas.
The musician would also take real sound effects including whistling, cracking of whips, gunshots and sounds inspired by wild animals including coyotes and incorporate them to enhance his scores.
Morricone was awarded his 2007 Oscar by Clint Eastwood, “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”.
When asked in 2014, Morricone expressed regret for turning down the opportunity to compose music for the actor-turned-director, who he had worked with so many years before.
He said he had rejected the chance to write for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly star – who’s success he partly had a hand in due to his famous composition for the film – due to loyalty to Leone.
Responding to news of Morricone’s death, Italian health minister Roberto Speranza, tweeted: “Adieu maestro, and thank you for the emotions you gave us.”
Morricone leaves behind his wife, lyricist Maria Travia, and their four children.