Legendary film composer Ennio Morricone’s World Tour to call at The O2, London in December 2014

Legendary composer and Academy Award winner, Ennio Morricone, will be performing at the O2 in London on Wednesday 10th December, 2014 as part of his ‘My Life in Music’ world tour. With sold-out dates across Europe, the concert will give UK fans the opportunity to enjoy the maestro’s music at the iconic London venue.





Angelo Francesco Lavagnino.

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Angelo Francesco Lavagnino was born in Genoa Italy on February 22nd 1909, he came from a musical family and was attracted to film music from an early age when he heard an orchestra accompany a silent movie. In many film music connoisseurs opinions Lavagnino was one of the Fathers of Italian film music, an innovator and a highly talented and original music-smith he graduated from the Giuseppe Verdi music conservatory in Milan, with a diploma in violin and composition and spent much of his early career working as a musician in orchestras that were performing in the concert halls and opera houses in Italy. Whilst doing this he also began to teach music and it was during this period that Lavagnino decided to start to compose music for film, his first foray into film scoring came in 1947 when he wrote the music for the comedy drama, NATALE AL CAMPO 119, which was directed by Pietro Francisci and starred Vittorio de Sica. As the 1950,s began Lavagnino started to become known within his native Italy as a composer of great talent producing music of high quality and also he was able to adapt to any genre or style of film. He also continued to teach music at this time and helped other composers come to grips with the technicalities of film scoring, one such composer was Francesco De Masi who he not only tutored but engaged as an assistant for a few years.

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The composers first major film scoring assignment came in 1951 when he provided the soundtrack for OTHELLO which was directed by Orson Welles, Lavagnino also scored the actor/directors FALSTAFF-CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT in 1965 and it was probably because of his first collaboration with Welles that the composer began to be offered assignments on bigger budget productions which included non-Italian movies such as Henry Hathaway’s action, drama, adventure LEGEND OF THE LOST, which starred John Wayne, Sophia Loren and Rossano Brazzi in 1957.

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The British made GORGO in 1961 and Italian/American co-production ESTHER AND THE KING for Director Raoul Walsh in 1960. Lavagnino seemed to excel when he wrote music for documentaries and won awards for his work in this particular area of film. At The Cannes film festival in 1955 he was nominated for the Palme d’Or for his music to CONTINENTE PERDUTO and won the special jury prize at the same festival for the score. In the same year he won the Silver ribbon award for his score to CONTINENTE PERDUTO which came from The Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. In 1956 his stunning score for L’IMPERO DEL SOLE (EMPIRE IN THE SUN ) garnered him another nomination from the film journalists and in 1957 he was awarded the silver ribbon from the same organisation for his music to VERTIGINE BIANCA (WHITE VERTIGO).
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Lavagnino was Sergio Leone’s first choice of composer when the filmmaker was in pre-production on A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, but the director was persuaded to engage a lesser known young composer named Ennio Morricone, because the films distributor felt that Morricone would be a better choice. One wonders if the music for the Italian western genre would have evolved in a different way or indeed would have been as successful as it was if Lavagnino had scored the first Leone western. I say this because although Lavagnino’s music was always highly original it was certainly more classical in its style and sound than Morricone’s and often leaned towards a more Americanized or conventional sound as in Dimitri Tiomkin and Max Steiner with some elements of what can now be deemed as being Spaghetti infused passages. After A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, Lavagnino created numerous western scores and put his own unmistakable musical fingerprint upon them. In the latter part of 1964 and throughout 1965, Lavagnino composed the score for 5000 DOLLARI SULL’ASSO which was his first foray into the Euro-western Arena, in addition to this he penned the scores to, THE TRAMPLERS, L’UOMO DALLA PISTOLA D’ORO, THE MAN FROM CANYON CITY, OCASO DE UN PISTOLERO, SEVEN HOURS OF GUNFIRE, JOHNNY WEST IL MANCINO, SOLO CONTRO TUTTI and the comedy western I DUE SERGENTI DEL GENERALE CUSTER.

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He also provided music too at least another seven western movies over the next few years one of the last being, SAPEVANO SOLO UCCIDERE in 1971. Lavagnino scored over 300 movies during his illustrious career, which included, THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES,CONSPIRACY OF HEARTS,FIVE BRANDED WOMEN,THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII,THE LOST CONTINENT,THE NAKED MAJA,VENERE IMPERIALE,L’ULTIMO PARADISO and THE WIND CANNOT READ, and was responsible for creating some of cinemas most haunting and atmospheric soundtracks, his music supporting, enhancing, ingratiating and in certain cases almost caressing the movie or project he was involved with. The composer passed away in Gavi , Italy on August 21st 1987.




Released in 1969, SETTE BASCHI ROSSI was an Italian/West German production, which is set against the violence and chaos of the Simba revolution in the Belgian Congo. The movie opens with a violent execution of a group of mercenaries that have been captured by rebels and also a rape of a young French Journalist by a gang of Simba soldiers, who is subsequently held prisoner in the village where the Simbas are stationed, one of the Mercenaries a German Captain, Brandt played by Sieghardt Rupp (who also made an appearance in A Fistful of Dollars) escapes the execution and manages to make his way back to his head quarters where he is rebuked by his Colonel in chief who wants to know how he managed to escape the execution and leave his comrades behind and also is further taken to task for leaving important papers behind. Civil war and unrest has ravaged the countryside and many of its inhabitants are either fleeing or have already been mercilessly butchered by the cruel and sadistic Simba’s who show no compassion even towards women and children. Brandt assures his Colonel that he can return to the village retrieve the papers and also rescue the woman. The Colonel reluctantly agrees as the papers contain delicate information about the movements of the Mercenaries and also the identities of their employers. Brandt’s past record shows that he is not capable of leadership so the Colonel orders an African American Captain named Loriwood to take charge of the mission and lead an unsavoury group of Mercenaries, back into the Jungles of the Congo this annoys and frustrates Brandt, who seems to abhor any man, woman or child that has been born black, but he agrees to go and try and put right his mistake. Filmed in Ethiopia, SETTE BASCHI ROSSI, which was also known outside of Italy as THE RED BERETS, SEVEN RED BERETS and CONGO HELL was directed by the screenwriter Mario Siciliano who made his directorial debut with this movie and it can be said that the movie does have certain similarities to DARK OF THE SUN which was released one year previous and even contains a train sequence. The movie is an action picture but also contains a fairly strong storyline.


The music for the movie is the work of the highly underrated Italian Maestro Gianni Marchetti, who although did not find international fame via his film music still has attained something of a cult following in more recent years. The vibrant and pulsating musical themes that the composer produced for the movie are laced with more than a hint of ethnic African sounds, harsh but rhythmic percussion for example introduce the composers score in the track entitled AFRICAN DRUMS and this throbbing and highly charged atmosphere continues throughout the entire soundtrack, with brief respites and breaks for the odd melodic moment the score being as affecting as it is infectious. The soundtrack was originally released in 1969 on a CAM records long playing vinyl album (MAG-10 121) which contained just seven cues from the work which was on the B side of the release. The A side contained selections from another of Marchetti’s glorious soundtracks, a Spaghetti western score COWARDS DON’T PRAY. Marchetti was born in Rome, Lazio on September 7th 1933, he worked on approximately 40 films which included documentaries and shorts as well as feature films in his career and although he is not as well known or familiar with film music collectors as other Italian composers such as Cipriani, Nicolai, Morricone, Ferrio etc, he produced an impressive array of scores for a diverse collection of movies all of which had varying subject matters. His talents however were not restricted to writing for the silver screen; Marchetti also contributed music to all of the songs that had lyrics by Piero Campi, which were performed by the likes of Adriano Celentano, Katyna Ranieri, Nicola Di Bari and others. The composer passed away in Rome on April 11th 2012 after suffering from a long illness.



edwin Astley

As a child I was not aware of the fact that a number of my favourite TV themes were penned by one man, Edwin Astley. Remember the opening shot of ROBIN HOOD, where Richard Greene fires an arrow from his long bow accompanied by the proud nine note fanfare also do you recall the catchy and rather cheeky 7 note motif for THE SAINT as played by Roger Moore. These are just two examples of some of the most well know pieces of TV music from the 1960,s. Edwin Thomas Astley was born in Warrington in 1922. His father was a manual worker mostly working on building sites. Astley left school before he was sixteen and started work at the age of 14 working in an office where ovens were made. He was always attracted to music and took a keen interest in all things musical. He was given a violin by a relative and decided that he wanted to make music a career. He joined the R.A.S.C. band when he was still a teenager and took up the clarinet and saxophone, by the time he had reached his 18th birthday Astley was not only performing music but was arranging it for the band. In 1945 he won a cash prize for a song that he had co-written and was lucky enough to have it recorded by Dame Vera Lynn no less. It was also at this time that he met and married Hazel Balbirnie. After leaving the army Astley joined the Peter Pease dance band and soon had become accomplished enough to lead his own band, he re-located to London and was given a job at the music publishers Francis, Day and Hunter where he acted as an arranger for various vocalists.


During the late 1950,s Astley moved into writing music for television, one of his first being ROBIN HOOD which became a popular series with adults and children alike. Another early TV series that he worked on was THE BUCCANEERS which led to him becoming involved on THE SAINT and DANGER MAN. In later years he worked on RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASED and also provided some of the scores for THE PERSUADERS. He also worked on movies from as early as 1959, THE MOUSE THAT ROARED for example and in 1962, composed the score for Hammer films version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which included an original operatic composition and in 1973 wrote a serviceable soundtrack for DIGBY:THE BIGGEST DOG IN THE WORLD. During the late 1970,s Astley went into semi retirement, and moved to the countryside, but even there he could not stay away from music, he constructed a recording studio at his home and installed a number of synthesisers and started to work on building a music library.


He also worked on various projects with and for Pete Townsend (his son in law) and also worked on arrangements and orchestrations of tracks that had been made successful by THE WHO and THE ROLLING STONES and turned them into symphonic pieces that were performed by the LSO. He died in Goring, Oxfordshire on May 19th 1998.


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Born in San Francisco on May 3, 1908 Hugo Friedhofer was the son of German parents, his Father who was a cellist had studied in Dresden,Friedhofer followed in his Fathers footsteps and began to take lessons in cello from the age of 13 and after taking instructions in harmony and counterpoint at the University of California took up employment as a cellist with the Peoples Symphony orchestra. In the latter part of 1929 Friedhofer moved to Los Angeles and began to work in orchestras that were performing for Fox Studios. After a few years Friedhofer was employed as an orchestrator for Warner Brothers and whilst working for the studio he carried out orchestrating duties on over 50 motion picture scores.It was whilst he was at Warners that Friedhofer worked on orchestrations for Max Steiner and also because of his German background was also assigned to work with Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Max Steiner in particular relied heavily upon Friedhofer,s skills as an orchestrator to transform his musical sketches into full blown symphonic scores, Friedhofer’s skills as a composer and orchestrator became evident in Hollywood,but for some reason he remained in the background for a number of years his ability being overshadowed by the likes of Steiner and Korngold. in particular. In 1937 Friedhofer was given his first opportunity to score a film himself, which was THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO and although he still remained busy as an orchestrator he began to gradually receive more and more assignments and commissions as a composer in his own right. It was in 1946 that the composer wrote the score that was to become a milestone in his career.


THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, was directed by William Wyler,and Friedhofer was hired to write the music on the recommendation of fellow Hollywood music-smith Alfred Newman. The music that he composed earned Friedhofer an Oscar for best original score in 1947 being selected over soundtracks by Miklos Rozsa, Bernard Herrmann, Sir William Walton and Franz Waxman. In later years Friedhofer was no stranger to Oscar nominations receiving recognition from the Academy for his work on films such as AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, THE YOUNG LIONS, THE BISHOPS WIFE,JOAN OF ARC and ABOVE AND BEYOND. He was greatly admired and respected within the film music composing fraternity. He passed away on May 17th 1981.

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