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Morricone – Once Upon a Time in America (Piano solo with sheet music)

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Morricone – Once Upon a Time in America (Piano solo with sheet music)

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Once Upon a Time in America is a 1984 film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro, James Woods and Elizabeth McGovern, with music by Ennio Morricone.

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Based on the 1952 novel of the same name by Harry Gray (The Hoods in the original), the film tells, over more than forty years (from the 1920s to the 1960s), the dramatic vicissitudes of criminal David ‘Noodles’ Aaronson and of his friends in their gradual transition from Lower Manhattan to the organized crime scene in Prohibition and post-Prohibition New York.

Presented out of competition at the 37th Cannes Film Festival, it is the third chapter of the so-called time trilogy, preceded by Once upon a time in the West (1968) and Giù la testa (1971). Despite the low public success at its release, over the years it has been unanimously defined as one of the best films of all time, positioning itself at the highest levels in the rankings of favorite films by audiences and critics.

For the soundtrack composition, the director Sergio Leone never had any doubts, immediately choosing his long-time collaborator Ennio Morricone, with whom he had worked for all his westerns that had made him famous all over the world. The music for the film was commissioned by Leone so far in advance that it was heard, albeit not in the orchestrated version, on the set during filming.

The film also contains songs not composed by Morricone, more precisely: Yesterday, composed by Beatle Paul McCartney; a passage from the famous symphony of the opera La gazza ladra by Gioachino Rossini during the scene of the exchange of cradles; God Bless America by Irving Berlin; Amapola by José Lacalle; Summertime by George Gershwin and Night and Day by Cole Porter.

In the soundtrack of the film, arranged and directed by Morricone himself and recorded in December 1983, also involved the singer Edda Dell’Orso, already a regular vocalist of Morricone’s soundtracks, and the Romanian flutist Gheorghe Zamfir, already author of the soundtrack of the film Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Morricone sheet music
sheet music

Considered by some to be Ennio Morricone’s greatest masterpiece, the score won its composer various awards, including: a Los Angeles Film Critics Awards (1984), a BAFTA (1985) and a Nastro d’Argento (1985), as well as a 1985 Golden Globe nomination.

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US version

It has a running time of 139 minutes and was the version released in theaters in the United States only. According to the will of the producer Arnon Milchan, the film was released deprived of many scenes and characterized by a montage that follows the chronological order of events: the decision was made due to the public’s distrust of the flashback technique, considered difficult to understand and enjoy.

The contribution of these alterations was later believed to be dictated by mere commercial interests and determined the poor success that the film enjoyed at the time with US audiences and critics.

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