Friday, October 2, 2015

Remembering Bruno Nicolai

Bruno Nicolai was an Italian composer, conductor and keyboardist (organ, piano). Notably the composer and director of numerous film and television scores. He also served as musical director for other composer's film scores, prevalently those of Ennio Morricone, Carlo Rustichelli and Luis Enriquez Bacalov.

Nicolai was born on May 20th, 1926 in Rome, Italy.Died August 16th, 1991 in Rome, Italy.

Bruno Nicolai studied piano, organ and composition at Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, studying piano under Aldo Mantia, and composition and organ under Goffredo Petrassi. Whilst at the conservatory, he met fellow student Ennio Morricone who also studied under Petrassi. A friendship began that would last for many years.

The first film Nicolai scored was the 1951 film "Il naufrago del Pacifico", scored in collaboration with Fernando Candia and conducted by Nino Bonavolonta.

Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, Nicolai scored a number of films, working several times with directors such as Jess Franco, Tinto Brass and Alberto De Martino for their giallo and exploitation films. During this time, he also composed library music, primarily for his own labels Gemelli and Edi-Pan, but also for other labels like RCA.

His big break came in 1965, when he was the musical supervisor for the Sergio Leone film "For a Few Dollars More", scored by Ennio Morricone. In 1966, he reprised this role for "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly".

Sometime in late 1960s Morricone and Nicolai had a squabble and their partnership was dissolved. Nicolai went his separate way and score quite a number of film scores and for a period of time it was thought it was actually Morricone using another pseudonym. Nicolai is considered by many the second best western composer after Ennio Morriocone. My personal feeling is that it was Nicolai that added the glitz to the Morricone western scores with the bells, anvils and cracking whips. Once they split those unique sounds are seldom if ever present in Morricone scores.

Nicolai's last score was for the 1988 TV series "La coscienza di Zeno", directed by Sandro Bolchi.

A very private man Bruno Nicolai died on August 16th, 1991 in Rome, Italy. There was no obituary in the Rome papers and it was a few months after his passing word leaked out that he was gone. The career of one of the greats of the Euro-western genre deserved better.

Bruno Nicolai’s Euro-westerns:
For a Few Dollars More – 1965 [conductor]
$100,000 for Ringo – 1965 [composer]
A Pistol for Ringo - 1965 [musical director]
The Return of Ringo – 1965 [conductor]
The Big Gundown – 1966 [conductor]
A Bullet for the General – 1966 [conductor]
Cisco – 1966 [composer]
Death Rides a Horse – 1966 [conductor]
Django – 1966 [conductor]
Django Shoots First – 1966 [composer]
The Good the Bad and the Ugly – 1966 [musical director]
The Hills Run Red – 1966 [conductor]
Kill or Be Killed – 1966 [conductor]
7 Guns for the MacGregors – 1966 [musical director]
Days of Violence – 1967 [composer]
Face to Face – 1967 [conductor]
Gentleman Killer – 1967 [composer]
God Forgives, I Don’t! – 1967 [conductor]
Run, Man, Run – 1967 [composer]
Ace High – 1968 [conductor]
Blood and Guns – 1968 [conductor]
The Great Silence – 1968 [conductor]
I Came, I Saw, I Shot – 1968 [conductor]
The Mercenary – 1968 (co) [composer, conductor]
A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die – 1968 [conductor]
The Ruthless Four – 1968 [musical director]
And For a Roof a Sky Full of Stars – 1968 [conductor]
The 5-Man Army – 1969 [musical director]
Land Raiders – 1969 [composer]
Three Silver Dollars – 1969 [conductor]
Adios, Sabata – 1970 [composer]
Apocalypse Joe – 1970 [conductor]
Arizona Returns – 1970 [composer]
Companeros – 1970 [conductor]
Dead Men Ride – 1970 [composer]
Gunman in Town – 1970 [composer]
Have a Nice Funeral – 1970 [composer, conductor]
A Man Called Apocalypse Joe – 1970 [composer]
Blazing Guns – 1971 [composer]
Bullet for a Stranger – 1971 [composer]
The Buzzards and Crows Will Dig Your Grave – 1971 [composer]
Dead Men Ride – 1971 [conductor]
And the Crows Will Dig Your Grave – 1972 [composer]
God in Heaven, Arizona on Earth – 1972 [composer]
The Hellhounds of Alaska – 1972 [composer]
His Name Was Holy Ghost – 1972 [composer]
My Horse… My Gun… Your Widow – 1972 (co) [composer]
What Am I Doing in the Middle of the Revolution – 1972 [conductor]
Another Try, Eh Providence? - 1973 (co) [composer]
Hellhounds of Alaska – 1973 [composer]
The Man Called Invincible – 1973 [composer]
Shanghai Joe – 1973 [composer, conductor]

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