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Morricone Music Magic Invades New York

Thursday, February 1----The distinctive music of Italian film composer Ennio Morricone will be showcased at three distinguished New York institutions in the coming days, making New York abuzz with Morricone music magic. Films that feature both well-known and obscure Morricone music soundtracks are being presented at two different film series at the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Forum. At Radio City Music Hall, the composer himself makes his long overdue American concert debut, in a program that features over two hundred musicians and singers. All this comes ahead of the release later this month of a new tribute album to the composer, with performances by Bruce Springstreen, Renne Fleming, Herbie Hancock, Enya and Mettalica. The crowning glory will be on February 25, when the 78-year-old living legend will receive an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Although his film music is among the most recognized in the world, the famed composer has never won an Oscar, despite five nominations over the course of his decades-long career.

The festivities begin today at the Museum of Modern Art, where the composer, who has produced over four hundred film and televisio scores in a career that spans nearly fifty years, will be celebrated with a program of six films, featuring some of Morricone's most loved film music. The series begins today with the screening of THE MISSION, directed by Roland Joffé, starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons. The film will be introduced by Morricone himself.

The other films in the MoMA series, which runs through February 7th, include: Gillo Pontecorvo's classic THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1960); TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA (1970), director Don Siegel's modern western starring Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood; ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968), "spaghetti western" pioneer Sergio Leone's crowning achievement, with a cast that includes Henry Fonda and Claudia Cardinale; U-TURN (1997), a delicious modern film noir, directed by Oliver Stone, and starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Lopez; and ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984), Leone's epic masterwork that plays as a Jewish THE GODFATHER, with a huge cast toplined by Robert DeNiro and James Woods.

On Saturday evening, Morricone will conduct his first ever American concert, featuring a compilation of his best-known film scores. The event will take place at Radio City Music Hall, one of New York's most iconic theaters, which has presented many of the Morricone-themed films over the years. The composer will lead the 100-piece Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra, along with the 100-member Canticum Novum Singers. Clips from the Maestro's film career will also be projected during the concert.

The Film Forum, downtown New York's most adventurous cinematheque, will present a three-week survey of films featuring Morricone's distinctive music. Starting this Friday, the series premieres with the Oscar-winning Italian film INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION (1970) directed by Elio Petri. The series includes the composer's famous scores of the "spaghetti westerns" of cult favorite Sergio Leone, including A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1966) and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1967).)

While Morricone became famous for these lusty, dusty western films, his film work was extremely varied. The Film Forum series includes his collaborations with some of cinema's most talented directors, including Bernardo Bertolucci (BEFORE THE REVOLUTION, 1964 and LUNA, 1979), Pier Paolo Pasolini (ARABIAN NIGHTS, 1974), Mario Bava (DANGER! DIABOLIK, 1967), Dario Argento (FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, 1972), Gillo Pontecorvo (THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, 1965, and BURN, 1969), Terrence Malick (DAYS OF HEAVEN, 1978), Samuel Fuller (WHITE DOG, 1982) and Brian De Palma (THE UNTOUCHABLES, 1987).

Morricone has been honored by film festivals and with international awards throughout his career, and has been nominated five times for the Oscar (but never won). Shockingly, his best known work for the Sergio Leone westerns was never even nominated (perhaps the films were considered too "cultish"). His Oscar nods include: MALENA (2000), BUGSY (1991), THE MISSION (1986), THE UNTOUCHABLES (1986) and DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978). Finally, the Maestro is getting his due with a month-long tribute in New York and eventually on Oscar night that should reacquaint a new generation with the contributions of this music legend.


For more information on the film series, visit the websites: Museum of Modern Art and Film Forum.


Sandy Mandelberger
Film New York Editor

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The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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