Interview with Ennio Morricone: discovering the essence of the chess-playing man-maestro
Have you ever played Guess Who? Today we want to test your intuition. The clues for guessing the Mister X in question are dense: he is beyond famous; an icon of our time; abroad, he is almost as well known as pizza, the mafia and mandolins.
Eighty-four years old but looks great, white hair (synonym for wise and knowledgeable) sunglasses, often with a baton in his hand. Here are some numbers that may help: one Oscar, Lifetime Achievement in 2007; 500 films with soundtracks composed by him; he has worked with the biggest directors in contemporary cinema including Leone (his first work partnership, but also his elementary school friend), Pontecorvo, Bertolucci, Tornatore, De Palma, Polanski, Stone and Almodóvar.
Have you guessed? It is Ennio Morricone. Have you ever seen films like the Battle for Algiers, Once Upon a Time in America, The Untouchables or New Cinema Paradiso? Good, then you should know that behind that music lives the mind of a man who will be at Florence’s Mandela Forum on November 3 with his show, Ten, accompanied by the Rome Symphony Orchestra and the Verona Choir. Here is our interview.
Maestro, can you briefly tell us the salient moments in a day spent composing?
I get up early, work out, read the papers and then I sit down to write music, with pencil and paper, nothing has changed there.
On November 3 we will see you on stage at the Mandela Forum in Florence, what will you give us?
A program of music in the development phase: it will be special. It is part of a series of concerts that were begun in the Verona Arena, like a woven canvas from 2002 until now.
A part of Florence that has always stayed with you?
The entire city is extraordinary. I don’t think a whole lifetime is enough to appreciate it to its fullest.
You are a great chess player. What’s one rule of the game that we can apply to our daily lives?
Calm and tranquility for making the best decisions.
Which soundtrack would you choose for your life?
All of them, because they all made me suffer.
Ennio Morricone and art. What touches you most about a work of art.
In 1992, through my friendship and profound artistic connection with painter Eva Fisher, we produced a CD called To Eva Fisher, Painter. I think that the sense of beauty is subjective but that it has to be subjected to an objective analysis as well. Every work, if sensitive and personal, has the ability to move me.
The best gift you’ve received and the best you have given?
Best gift ever received: my wife. Best gift ever given: I married her.
Choose one of your compositions to dedicate to her.
I already have: Vidi Aquam to Maria-Marea (Editor’s note: his wife, Maria Travia, since 1956).
One thing that is never missing from your refrigerator?
I go to the refrigerator many times a day. Right now I’m finding a lot of figs.