Ennio Morricone’s 90th Birthday Celebrated at Special Concert Event in Rome

The Academy Award-winning composer said his career almost took a much different path at the event.

Composer Ennio Morricone was celebrated at Rome’s Audiotorium Parco della Musica at a special concert organized by the National Academy of Santa Cecilia for his upcoming birthday on Nov. 10.

Morricone has scored more than 500 works for film and television, including the Sergio Leone Dollars’ Trilogy, as well as 100 classical music pieces. In addition to having an honorary Oscar, he had his first competitive win for best score for The Hateful Eight in 2016 at age 87.

Italian president Sergio Mattarella attended the concert and in a rare move climbed the stage and embraced the composer after the ceremony.

Director Giuseppe Tornatore, who is currently making a documentary about Morricone, was also in attendance, as well as Oscar-winning composers Nicola Piovani (Life is Beautiful) and Dario Marianelli (Atonement) who both directed their own tributes to the maestro at the event.

Morricone also took to the podium to conduct songs from two of his most celebrated soundtracks: The Legend of 1900 and The Mission.

The concert included works that have influenced Morricone, from composers Bach to Goffredo Petrassi, who taught him during his time as a student at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia.

Speaking to journalists, Morricone admitted that his prolific career as a film composer almost didn’t happen. “When I started I was ashamed to say that I was writing music for the movies. I kept it hidden,” he said, especially from his teacher Petrassi who looked down on the craft.

“They made me out of the conservatory when they learned that I was composing films,” he said, explaining why he didn’t stay on to teach after graduating.

The Santa Cecilia Academy has also published a new book, 90ennio, to celebrate the composer, featuring photos, documents and testimonies from the many cinematic figures he has worked with. The school’s Museum of Musical Instruments also has a special exhibition on display, featuring costumes from Morricone’s films.