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The music of Ennio Morricone was for me, at that time little more than a child, the intense polyphonic opening theme played with drums, guitars, voices, whistles and trumpets that set off the long and ardent treasure hunt in the film "The good, the bad and the ugly”, as the protagonists travelled among caravans, through deserts, along moving trains and engaged in wars and duels. Inevitably, the music of that fascinating and ancient oboe instrument played by Jeremy Irons in the forest in the film ‘The Mission’, recalled to me the fact that music is capable of going beyond the impossibility of verbal communication with indigenous people. Finally, during that moving and impeccable theme of Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, played by the guitarist Pat Metheny with Charlie Haden, time seemed to stop for a moment.

Ennio Morricone (Rome, 10 November 1928 - Rome, 6 July 2020) studied music at the Santa Cecilia conservatory and graduated in trumpet playing, but also as a music composer and conductor. He is recognized as one of the greatest composers of film music but, a study of his musical career shows that he dealt with almost all musical genres with art and professionalism. In fact, he composed songs that became icons of the 1960s, such as Gino Paoli’s "Sapore di Sale" and Mina’s "Se telefondando"; he later worked together with the Pet Shop Boys on their song script ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’, or with Angelo Branduardi’s song script "Salmo" in his album "Infinitely Small", just to mention some interesting collaborations. He was also part of the "New Consonance Improvisation Group", where he experimented and improvised, taking music to the limit of its capacity. He received countless national and international awards, from the "Silver Ribbons", the "Golden Globe" and the "Oscar for Career Award". Among the most famous of his musical themes during the peak period of collaboration with the director Sergio Leone, are the soundtrack of "The good, the bad and the ugly", "Once upon a time in the west", and "The Untouchables” by Brian De Palma, or the remarkable musical themes of “The Mission”, and Giuseppe Tornatore's masterpiece“ Nuovo Cinema paradiso ”. Large audiences have always attended to listen to Morricone’s music because his music not only pervaded and highlighted cinema films but went beyond, becoming an autonomous and independent composition. Morricone's music, in fact, is capable of reaching the listener's soul directly because it is alive in a complex but simple way, and thus it is immediately communicated to its listeners. This is the result of a deep knowledge and study of the musical structures combined with personal intuitions and brilliance.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society, on 10 June 2015, the composition “Missa papae Francisci” , “mass for Pope Francis”, was played in the church of the Gesù. Thus Fr. Gianni Arledler, in his article in "La Civiltà Cattolica" comments on Morricone's willingness to compose this work: “The main reason that made him decide was the connection with the soundtrack of the film The Mission, which somehow recalled the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, a few years later the event was narrated in the film itself. "If somehow I participated in their suppression, now I will participate in their restoration" ".

In an interview with Avvenire, the master recalled the origin of the composition of The Mass: "My wife Maria, to whom I have been married since 1956, has always asked me to compose a Mass. But I never did. Then one morning, as I was leaving home, I met Fr. Daniele Libanori, rector of the Church of the Gesù which is a stone's throw from my house in Rome and which I often attend. The Jesuit asked me to write a score to celebrate the two hundred years of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. It was 2012. I took some time to think about it. In the meantime, Pope Francis was elected, the first Jesuit Pontiff. I decided to do it and I thought I would dedicate it to him and also to my wife Maria. This is how the Missa Papae Francisci originated, the 200th anniversary of the Societate Restituta. This has an even greater value to me as I have always been a man of faith, raised in a Catholic family and this has always marked my life ».

Claudio Zonta SJ

The front-page photograph has been kindly granted by the courtesy of Vatican News

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