Addio, Maestro: Ennio Morricone

July 7, 2020 by Inna Rogatchi
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Ennio Morricone, who composed music for over 400 movies and 200 classical works, has died at the age of 92 in Italy where he spent his entire life.

Maestro Ennio Morricone. Courtesy: (C) Morricone Foundation. With cordial thanks to Morricone family

Inna Rogatchi has met the maestro and penned this piece.

Windy Morning 

I woke up at 5.21 am this morning, July 6th, 2020, almost three hours before my usual awakening. There was no reason for that, I thought at the moment. We still have white nights at this time in Finland, so the sun was up for an hour or so. The air was completely clear, but without that special morning serenity. I heard noisy and persistent rustling of branches all around our house, non-stop rustling. The wind was mighty, the weather was stormy. Strange morning, I thought, not quite July-like. I felt like the weather, the air, the wind were as if saying something. Not trying to say, but saying, repeatedly, non-stop. I could not sleep back whatever I had tried.  

Some music was still whirling in my head from the previous night when my husband and I were listening to our usual pre-bed concert. Yesterday, we opted for the record of a great concert given back in 2006 by two outstanding Italian musicians, trumpeter Paolo Fresu and pianist Danilo Rea at one of our favourite music venues in the world, at Auditorium di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Fresu and Rea were improvising playing some of our favourite music by great Enno Morricone, a very special person for us both. We started to speak about Maestro Ennio, how is he doing, hopefully, now everything is fine, after our all’ fears for him and his wife because of a severe epidemic of COVID-19 in Italy recently, how much we are waiting for his book sent to us by his family, what great music that great man created. 

In a couple of hours after my unusual awakening this morning, my Inbox did show the terrible news: Maestro Morricone passed away this morning, at the dawn in Rome ( 5.42 am), at in a Rome hospital. The same time when I awoke this morning, under noisy rustlings of the trees in our garden. 

Just four months ago, in mid-February this year, we were seeing Maestro’s son Marco, one of his four children, and his wife Monica in Rome where we were participating together at the  Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Arts, Literature and Music Award ceremony in which the Maestro Morricone’s Armonica Onlus Academy was taking a prominent part along with our The Rogatchi Foundation. When Marco Morricone was invited to the stage to speak before awarding some of the laureates, we were stunned by his goodness, his modesty and his sensitivity. We should not be, actually: Marco is so much the son of his great father in that great modesty, that rare and organic attitude towards people, that fineness of sublime soul. 

Sea of Light 

I saw Maestro Morricone in person for the first time at the end of August of 2009 in Rimini, during the important Meeting di Rimini high-end cultural and humanitarian festival. Maestro was giving a special concert in an unusual concert-conversation format. I was invited as a special guest, as well as another dear friend, the great late Harry Wu was. We all were staying at the same historical Rimini Grand Hotel, famous largely thanks to Fellini who immortalised it and who actually died there. 

Both Maestro Morricone and his wife were gracious, elegant, organically polite and friendly disposed toward people they were meeting at Rimini Festival. To talk with them, to be near them was like one step into the sea of light. A very calm, serene sea which is organically generous with you – and you, and you, everyone – in sharing its light, in wrapping it around you absolutely effortlessly. 

Luckily, I have met many special people in my life. And many very special ones among them. But I never met anyone quite like Ennio Morricone. That man had such extraordinary substance which he consciously and very graciously kept very much inside himself that his presence was a quiet but very deep celebration and a gift. Never in my life did I have that sensation when a brief friendly encounter lasts over many years and is present in one’s life in a deeply tangible way as if it had happened just yesterday. 

I remember the Maestro’s face, his smile, his attentive eyes, very sharp eyes but without any edge in his outlook, his wise and elegant words very vividly during all twelve years that have passed after our personal meeting, on a daily basis. I always treat it as a very special personal gift in my life. I always will. 

As a culture figure, Ennio Morricone was a gift to mankind: his enormous productivity and fortunately long life ensured his music to over 500 films, many of them mile-stones of cinematography, and much more great music by that brilliant composer. I do not know any other cultural figure whose impact was so mighty, unexpected, wide and universal. Not only Morricone’s music is great, but to a very large extent, it did make the films for which he was composing, unforgettable and distinct ones, from all eight classical Westerns by Sergio Leone to Once Upon the Time in America, Sicilian Clan, Cinema Paradiso, and so many others. 

Morricone’s scores for all those exceptional films was much more than a score, even the best one. It was a vision laid not in words, not in pictures, but in music. Because of philosophical depth and the beauty of Morricone’s music, this vision has been perceived so universally, by millions. Because of its pure harmony and depth, that vision has enriched our individual perception of the world, it has enriched our own lives. Morricone’s music is a unique phenomenon in the history of culture, and palpably so in modern history. This music is more than words. It is deeper than words. And it stays longer than images on the screen although they all are engraved in our memory very much because and thanks to that so unique, so special and so original music. Ennio Morricone was a gift to mankind. 

Not only was his productivity simply phenomenal, but his artistic responsibility was an exemplary one.  Maestro Morricone started to conduct his own music quite late, in the mid-1980s when he was 56-year-old. His concerts were always a great success. During those concerts, the sea of light that he did emanate was transformed into the ocean of it. The waves of goodness were embarrassing Morricone’s huge audiences at every concert he ever gave, and those were many. He was very generous towards the people in anything he did. It was his principle of life conduct. Amazingly, he gave fantastic concerts conducting brilliantly as recently, as just two years ago, in 2018, being 89. 

True Renaissance Man

In the best of Italian modes, Maestro Morricone was a true Renaissance man. Additionally to his inherited and developed musical supreme talent, he had a brilliant mind and great intellect. After learning about Morricone in more detail, I realised why his music is so unique and so universal. It is because it was a product also of his mighty intellect. 

Maestro Morricone was an exceedingly modest person, he never bragged on his brilliance and depth. But it all is in his book, Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words. It is one of the best books I have ever read. When I was reading e parts of it, I had the impression that Leonardo had returned in our midst, this time as a composer. “Music is mysterious, – wrote Maestro in his absolutely engaging mono – and dialogue book, – it does not offer many answers”. Indeed, Ennio Morricone’s music did originate much more lasting questions to millions of people than all those great films themselves. And questions are the salt and beauty of a life landscape, the more, the better. 

As a person, Maestro Morricone was simply amazing in his modesty, his friendliness, his kind attitude towards the people. I wish we would have much more people like him, but the reality is that he was a rare sapphire of a man. His deep faith was never shaken and for those who knew him and the family, it was evident that this kind of faith was a very firm ground for his outstanding and far-reaching humanity. 

His and his family’s generosity and philanthropy maybe not that well-known widely – precisely because of supreme modesty of Morricones – but there was, is and will be a steady stream of it in many directions of life, including their help to children, families in need, musical education, science, medicine, you name it. When we at our The Rogatchi Foundation have started the Culture for Humanity global initiative facilitating cultural support to people worldwide at the smashing time of COVID-19 pandemic, it was Maestro Morricone and his wonderful family who did respond the first ones to join and to lead the effort. We were touched and grateful to those wonderful people who always share their talent and their heart with this simplicity and understatement, in the way the real giants do. 

As we all know, because of a number of reasons, some of the great masters of arts can be quite complicated characters. Ennio Morricone, additionally to all his extraordinary professional qualities, was simply a wonderful man. True humanitarian whose humanism was an organic part of his nature. He is a giant in all and every sense. 

It would take time for me to write about Maestro Ennio in the past term.  Such light like his never dims. 

Addio, Maestro, e senza fondo grazie, bottomless Thank You.

 

Inna Rogatchi is internationally acclaimed writer, scholar and film-maker, the author of the widely prized film on Simon Wiesenthal The Lessons of Survival.

Her professional trade-mark is inter-weave of history, culture and mentality. She is the author of the concept of the Outreach to Humanity cultural and educational projects conducted internationally by The Rogatchi Foundation of which Inna is the co-founder and President. She is the wife of the world-renowned artist Michael Rogatchi.

Inna’s family is related to the famous Rose-Mahler musical dynasty. Her professional interests are focused on Jewish heritage, Holocaust and post-Holocaust, arts and culture.

She is twice laureate of the Italian Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Art, Literature and Music Award, the Patmos Solidarity Award, and the New York Jewish Children’s Museum Award for Outstanding Contribution into the Arts and Culture (together with her husband). Inna Rogatchi is the member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association

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