By Brock ThiessenMarking some tragic news in the film world today, esteemed Italian soundtrack composer Riz Ortolani has passed away. According to Italian news reports, Ortolani died in Rome this evening (January 23) due to complications with bronchitis. He was 87.
While not as esteemed as fellow cinematic scorer Ennio Morricone, Ortolani left a huge mark on the world of cinema and music. Born on March 25, 1926, in Pesaro, Italy, as Riziero Ortolani, the composer worked with such directors as Lucio Fulci, Damiano Damiani, Ruggero Deodato, Vittorio De Sica, Pupi Avati and many others over the course of his long career, venturing into everything from giallo films to spaghetti westerns to exploitation flicks and mondo cinema.
Among Ortolani's best known works is 1962's Mondo Cane, whose main theme "More" won a Grammy and was also nominated for an Oscar. Over the years, the track was covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Judy Garland to Herb Alpert.
Ortolani is also well-known for his musical contributions to the controversial cult classic Cannibal Holocaust, whose guitar-led theme would go on to stand as one of cinema's most moving and eerily haunting movements.
But while Ortolani's career was long and prolific, he also had a mark on modern cinema as well, with Quentin Tarantino using his works in the director's Kill Bill films, as well as in 2012's Django Unchained. Ortolani's song "Oh My Love," sung by his wife Katyna Ranieri, would also appear in Nicolas Winding Refn's 2011 film Drive.
Besides his film score work, Ortolani established the Pesaro Riz Ortolani Foundation to promote music through scholarships, seminars, debates, concerts and exhibitions.
Sadly, Katyna Ranieri and Ortolani were to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in the next few days. Along with Katyna, he leaves two sons, Henry and Rizia.
Ortolani's funeral will be held in Rome on Saturday (January 25) in the Church of the Artists of the Piazza del Popolo.