Goodbye to Alessandro Alessandroni, the western world's most famous ‘whistle’
The composer, conductor and arranger Alessandro Alessandroni died in Rome. He had just turned 92 years-old. Celebrated for his 'whistle' which made many great soundtracks of the spaghetti western genre. 'For a Few Dollars More' is its 'booed' most iconic.
La Repubblica ·
By Valeria Rusconi and Ernesto Assante
March 27, 2017
"It's very simple. I phoned Ennio Morricone and he told me: 'Sandro, come down here for a moment, in the room, we need you to whistle. Well, it was really a whistle, nothing more, but think about what happened next ... When we saw the film, I have to admit that no one thought it would make a penny". And instead. Instead the 'whistling' really did change everything. Alessandro Alessandroni, the master - it is right to call him that - says the opening words of the most famous of his career and the most iconic of Western movies song that for a Fistful of Dollars, made up by Morricone, which made the film music of Sergio Leone - and practically made all the best western movies - even bigger. "It was a great professional partnership, we had a wonderful collaboration," he told La Repubblica. Morricone, "knew very well I could play the guitar and was the director of the choir and this was superb. And he knew very well that I could whistle. He had worked on A Fistful of Dollars and on other occasions. Why I chose him to whistle? by chance, I needed a whistle, I asked the musicians working with me who was able to whistle well and others I liked less. He had the courage to try".
The composer, conductor and arranger Alessandro Alessandroni died in Rome, in the city that gave him birth on March 18, 1925, on March 26th. He had just turned 92 years of age. The announcement came on the official Facebook page of the composer: "It is with great sorrow that I inform you of the death yesterday of the master Alessandro Alessandroni born in Rome on March 18, 1925, composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and choir director. There will be a memorial service at his home in Namibia with music and musicians directed by his son Alex Jr. Alessandroni".
Alessandroni approached music when he was still a boy. At the time he lived in the country of his mother, in the province of Viterbo. He was 11 years old and listened insistently, whenever he could to classical music. He began playing the guitar with assistance from a friend. The place is one of those details. He told in an interview to the blog Planet Hexacord: "I started in the barber shop, because in small countries it is a reference point: there were the instruments, the guitar, the mandolin. They worked a little, but it sounded a lot. .. ". While he was attending the last year of high school he formed his first band, with whom he performed for local dance halls. Quick to learn, in a short time he become proficient on several instruments, which he alternates during his performances: as a teenager he already is able to play the guitar, the piano, the accordion, sax, flute, mandolin and sitar, one of the first Italians to try their hand on this complex stringed instrument. He obtained his diploma at the Conservatory in Rome, and found a job in the film production company Fonolux There he meets the great Nino Rota, his senior by 14 years, who wants him in his orchestra. Then came the whistle. It was almost by accident. Alessandroni, at some point, when Rota asked for a volunteer to whistle. Whistling become his new tool to play with and one of the moments that characterized the soundtracks of the Spaghetti Westerns. Music in effect: "My whistle parts are on the staff," explained Alessandroni, "and woe to miss the pitch, to make mistakes." That thought also by Federico Fellini, author of his soprannonme: Alessandroni for him was simply "The Whistler".
In 1962 he founded the octet I Cantori Moderni, a formation that takes the place of his previous group, the Caravels Quartet. With him, the band is formed by soprano Edda Dell'Orso, Augustus Garden, Franco Cossacks, Nino Dei, Enzo Gioieni, Gianna Spagnuolo and, not the least, his wife Julia De Mutiis.
The most important co-operation, long-lived and linked by a sincere esteem Alessandroni remains to this day one with Ennio Morricone: besides the famous whistle of For a Fistful of Dollars he also worked on For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Alessandroni was used by all the most important Italian composers of the time, in the 1960s, such as Piero Umiliani, for which he sang along with his wife Giulia in great song Mah-na Mah-na, extracted from the soundtrack of Svezia inferno e paradiso by Louis Scattini (1968) and the master Armando Trovajoli. With the arrival of the seventies, for ARC of the RCA label which was dedicated to the ‘young Italian music’, between beats and 'world exotico', a public-disc collection of twelve songs in the race to the edition of 1969 of Canzonissima. Are recorded, of course, the tune and work on the Hammond organ solo is credited to Ron Alexander, his pseudonym.
The name of Alessandroni had become one of worship across the board, and had crossed generations and musical styles, especially he had conquered the library music enthusiasts. Among the last to want in their drive Baustelle, group of Montepulciano, who have chosen it for one of their best albums. "Alessandro Alessandroni is the oldest guest," explained Francesco Bianconi, the singer, "a wonderful eighty-four and played the sitar, accordion, acoustic guitar and he did blow the whistle". The song title, not surprisingly, was Spaghetti Western. The Album, Amen.
Born: 3/18/1925, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Died: 3/26/2017, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Alessandro Alessandroni’s westerns – composer, musician, whistler, choir:
A Fistful of Dollars – 1964 [guitar, whistle, choir]
Massacre at Marble City – 1964 [choir]
For a Few Dollars More – 1965 [guitar, whistle]
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – 1966 [guitar]
Seven Dollars on the Red – 1966 [choir]
Any Gun Can Play – 1967 [composer]
Payment in Blood – 1967 [choir]
Wanted – 1967 [choir]
Once Upon a Time in the West – 1968 [whistle]
The Wild and the Dirty – 1968 [composer]
El Puro – 1969 [composer]
Raise Your Hands, Dead Man, You're Under Arrest – 1971 [composer]
Zorro the Invincible – 1971 [composer]
The Crazy Bunch – 1974 [composer]
White Fang and the Gold Diggers – 1975 [composer]
White Fang and the Hunter – 1975 [composer]
Lucky Luke – 1991 [whistle]
Lucky Luke (TV) – 1991-1992 [whistle]