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'The Vintage News' farewell to Ennio Morricone, revisits 5 of his most epic movie melodies

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Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. Arguably the most influential movie composer who ever lived, his music is familiar to audiences around the world. Morricone passed away on Monday in Rome, city of his birth, where he'd lived all his life. Cause of death is reported as complications arising from a fall and broken femur. His collaborations with some of the true greats of cinema echo through the ages. Rising to prominence with Sergio Leone – with whom he went to school – he added the iconic twangs, whistles and harmonicas to the director's "Dollars trilogy" (1964-66).

"Added" is probably the wrong word – for Leone, his friend's compositions were an essential part of creating the film. The Guardian notes, "he once remarked that part of the reason Sergio Leone's westerns were so slow was that certain scenes were extended in order to accommodate his soundtrack, a luxury that seems almost unthinkable in today's film industry." In some cases the music was finished before a frame was shot.

Morricone disliked the term "spaghetti western", feeling there was more to his career. No arguing about that – his work moved viewers from the Old West to classic gangster battles in the big cities. His final collaboration with Leone was 1984 crime saga Once Upon A Time In America, which he regarded as his best. Three years later his score accompanied Eliot Ness's pursuit of Al Capone in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987). Robert De Niro starred in both movies, as well Morricone-scored historical drama The Mission (1986), directed by Roland Joffé.

Ennio Morricone in 2012 (Photo by Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Redferns via Getty Images)