Music Break: Ennio Morricone’s The Mission – Gabriel’s Oboe

I’ve been wanting to feature this haunting score for a while now, and since Easter was just a few days ago, I thought it’d be fitting to feature it this week.

TheMissionPosterEnnio Morricone is one of my favorite composers of all time, with Cinema Paradiso being one of my favorite scores ever. There’s something so highly evocative about his music, and whilst Cinema Paradiso is more lush and romantic in nature, this score for Roland Joffé 1986’s film The Mission has a poignant and haunting quality to it. It’s one of those pieces I’d describe as so achingly beautiful as whenever I listen to it, it pierces my heart and stirs my soul.

I saw this film years ago and after seeing the trailer last night, I’m compelled to see it again. The story centers on 18th century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal. It features fantastic performances from major thespians such as Jeremy Irons, Robert DeNiro and Liam Neeson.

The main theme, called Gabriel’s Oboe, is one of the most stirring piece of music I’d ever come across. The name of the score refers to the scene where Father Gabriel (Irons) travels to Iquazu Falls, climbs to the top and plays his oboe. The Guaraní community who lives above the Falls had tied a priest to a cross and sent him over the falls to his death, but the Guaraní warriors were captivated by the music and allowed Gabriel to live.



Morricone’s score for The Mission was ranked on #1 in a poll of the all-time greatest film scores and is ranked 23rd on the AFI’s list of 25 greatest film scores of all time. Morricone received a second Oscar nomination for The Mission, but lost out to Herbie Hancock’s jazzy score for Bertrand Tavernier’s Round Midnight. (per Wikipedia)

I owned a couple of Sarah Brightman‘s CD, and one of my favorite songs from her is Nella Fantasia (In My Fantasy). Well, apparently it was based on Morricone’s Gabriel Oboe theme he did for this film! Brightman was such a big fan of that music that he begged Morricone to put lyrics to the theme to create her own song.

My next song was originally an instrumental written by the composer Ennio Morricone for the film The Mission. About three years ago I wrote to Mr. Morricone, asking whether he would give me permission to turn this particular piece into a song. He flatly refused. So every two months I would send yet another begging letter, until I think he became so sick of me that he finally relented. And I am really glad that he did, because I think it works beautifully as a song. (per Wikipedia)

Here’s the Sarah Brightman‘s rendition of Nella Fantasia (I can only find the live version):

Few scores are as exquisite and powerful as this one… Mr. Morricone is certainly a legend amongst even the best film composers ever, and this stands at the top of his amazing work.


I hope you enjoy today’s Music Break. Thoughts on this film and/or its music?