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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Princess of Asturias Awards

06/05/2020

Composers Ennio Morricone and John Williams, Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts

©FPA

The composers Ennio Morricone and John Williams have been granted the 2020 Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts, as announced today by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for this Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Miguel Zugaza Miranda and made up of José María Cano de Andrés, María de Corral López-Dóriga, Oliver Díaz Suárez, Dionisio González Romero, Sergio Gutiérrez Sánchez, Ricardo Martí Fluxá, Fernando Masaveu Herrero, Joan Matabosch Grifoll, José María Pou Serra, Emilio Sagi Álvarez-Rayón, Benedetta Tagliabue, Patricia Urquiola Hidalgo, Aarón Zapico Braña and Catalina Luca de Tena y García-Conde, Marchioness of Valle de Tena (as acting secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Juan Barja de Quiroga Losada, member of the Jury for the 2020 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences

Due to the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held online via video conference.

Through their power of communication and evocation of images, stories and situations, film scores have often transcended the films for which they were created. The countless compositions that Morricone and Williams have written have not only served as a backdrop to accentuate atmospheres or define characters, but have gone beyond the silver screen and managed to perfectly mix the wealth of musical history with the sound of their time, without forgetting their own idiosyncrasies.

Ennio Morricone (Rome, 10th November 1928) was trained in all specialties of musical composition and in 1961 made his film debut with the soundtrack for Luciano Salce’s film, El federal. He subsequently gained international fame with the scores for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western genre films, such as A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, among others. He is one of the most prolific film composers in the world, with more than four hundred soundtracks for film and television, outstanding among which are films such as The Mission (1986), Cinema Paradiso (1988), Frantic (1988) and The Star Maker (1995). He has composed chamber music, symphonic pieces, operas and hundreds of songs for light and pop music artists. In 2018, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, Morricone started “The Final Concerts World Tour” with which he bade farewell to the stage. He toured more than 35 European cities, giving over 50 concerts. Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour and Commander, Grand Officer and Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, he has received 27 gold records and 7 platinum records and numerous awards: various BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Grammies, David de Donatellos, the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement in Venice (1995) and the Polar Music Prize (Sweden, 2010). In 2007, he was awarded the Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2016, he won the Oscar and his third Golden Globe for the soundtrack for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and had his star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2019, Pope Francis presented him with the Pontifical Gold Medal and in 2020 he received the Camille Award from the European Alliance of Authors and Composers for Lifetime Achievement.

John Williams (New York, 8th February 1932) received his musical training collaborating with some of the most prominent figures in American classic cinema, such as Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann. Considered one of the most popular orchestral composers of the modern era, he has created the music for some of the most iconic soundtracks in film history, such as Jaws, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Superman, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Memoirs of a Geisha, the first three films in the Harry Potter series and the one considered to be the most popular soundtrack in film history, that of the Star Wars saga. With jazz influences, his music ranges from the symphonic sound of the great orchestras to intimate pieces, as well as encompassing popular or folk styles. He has composed the scores to more than one hundred films, has created symphonies and concerts for flute, violin, clarinet, viola, oboe, cello and tuba and has been commissioned to compose for various orchestras. In 1980 he was appointed conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a position from which he retired in 1993, and maintains a relationship with many other orchestras, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. He has received five Academy Awards in the categories of Best Adaptation Score for Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and Best Original Music for Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982) and Schindler’s List (1993). In addition, the 52 nominations he has received throughout his career make him the living person with the most nominations for these awards, second only to Walt Disney. He holds honorary degrees from various universities, the IOC Olympic Order, twenty-five Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes and seven BAFTAs, the National Medal of Arts (USA, 2009) and, among others, the AFI Life Achievement Award (2016), which went to a composer for the first time.

As stated in the Statutes of the Foundation, the Princess of Asturias Awards are aimed at rewarding “the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. In keeping with these principles, the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts shall be aimed at recognizing “the work of fostering and advancing the art of film-making, theatre, dance, music, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture or any other form of artistic expression”. This year, a total of 42 candidates from 21 different countries were nominated for the award.

This is the second of eight Princess of Asturias Awards, which are being bestowed this year for the fortieth time. The Princess of Asturias Awards for Concord went to Spanish health workers on the front line against COVID-19. The remaining awards will be announced in the coming days in the following order: Communication and Humanities, Social Sciences, Sports, Literature, Technical and Scientific Research and International Cooperation.

Each of the Princess of Asturias Awards comprises a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolizing the Awards, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia.

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