John Williams pays tribute to Ennio Morricone at pre-Oscars soiree

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At the Society of Composers & Lyricists' pre-Oscar soiree at La Boheme in West Hollywood on Saturday afternoon, first-time music nominees like Carter Burwell ("Carole") mixed with iconic veterans like John Williams, who earned his 50th nomination for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

There were plenty of heavyweights in the room, including composer Lalo Schifrin and Bill Conti ("Rocky"). But the biggest applause was reserved for Ennio Morricone, the Italian maestro who scored Quentin Tarantino's widescreen western, "The Hateful Eight." Morricone's almost regal presence allowed the 84-year-old Williams to playfully point out the one luminary present who was his senior.

"I'm particularly happy today to congratulate all the nominees, particularly a gentleman who has been such a great inspiration to all of us younger composers," said Williams from the podium, getting a big laugh (Morricone is roughly three years older).


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First-time nominee David Lang (cited for "Simple Song #3" from "Youth"), who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer for the concert hall, told Variety he was excited to meet Schifrin, Williams and fellow nominee David Newman ("Bridge of Spies").

"It's interesting for me because I'm in the Hollywood world for the first time," said Lang. "I'm not that interested in the famous actors although I know who they are. But to me, I love composers and I love people who do what I do. I go to these movies, I listen to the soundtracks and I watch 'Bridge of Spies' and all I can do is listen to the music."

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