Once Upon A Time In The West : Work information

Ennio Morricone ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Carl Davis (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Once Upon A Time In The West
Work number
1968-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Alan Peters
Dick Lewzey
Recording date

The Composers

Ennio Morricone

Although most famous for his film music for Serge Leone's 'dollars' trilogy starring Clint Eastwood, Ennio Moricone is also a concert composer who has embraced the serial techniques of the Second Viennese School (SchoenbergBerg and Webern). His success as a film composer is undoubtedly due to his juxtaposition and fusion of styles and influences, which range from classical to folk and rock, but his non-film works are becoming increasingly well known.

Born in Rome on 10 November 1928, Morricone quickly developed two distinct sides of his musical persona: one embraced  serialism under the tutelage of Petrassi, and the later experimentalism of the group Nuova Consonanza; the other involved him in all types of mass-media composition, including radio and television in addition to film.

Morricone first came to international attention with his music to Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western films of the 1960s (A Fistful of dollars; For a Few Dollars More; The good, the Bad and the Ugly; Once Upon a Time in the West). He has continued to work with some of the greatest directors, including Bernardo Bertolucci and Brian de Palma, on more than 400 film scores, including The Mission (1986) and Casualties of War (1989).

In Morricone's non-film output, many of the works employ a pseudo-serial technique that he calls 'micro-cells'. Such economy of material, perhaps derived from his film-scoring techniques, has resulted in works like the Second Concerto for flute, cello and orchestra (1985) and Riflessi  (1989-90), three pieces for cello.

Among his numerous honours are five Academy Award nominations, a Grammy and a Leone d'oro. He was made Laurea ad Honorem by the University of Cagliari in 2000, and is a Commendatore dell'Ordine 'Al Meriot della Repubblica Italiana.

Track listing

  • 5:11 min


Another Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in the West tells of the passing of power in the Old West from the man with the gun, to the man with the money. Starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, and Jason Robards and made in 1968, it has been critically acclaimed as one of the best Westerns ever made.

Unusually, Ennio Morricone's music was composed before the film was shot. Films rarely include the music score so early in the creative process and, as a result, much of the action could be improvised on set to fit the music.

Each of the main characters has an associated musical sound world: harmonica for Bronson, electric guitar for Fonda, banjo for Robards, and an opulent orchestral score for widow Claudia Cardinale. Indeed such is the power and importance of the music that this film has often been called an operatic masterpiece.