Gabriel's Oboe

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"Gabriel's Oboe"
Song by Ennio Morricone from the album The Mission
Released August 5, 1986
Recorded September 1985 – February 1986
Genre Classical
Length 2:14 / 2:40
Label Virgin Records
Writer Ennio Morricone
Producer Ennio Morricone

"Gabriel's Oboe" is the main theme for the 1986 film The Mission directed by Roland Joffé.[1] The theme was written by Italian composer Ennio Morricone, and has since been arranged and performed several times by artists such as Yo-Yo Ma,[2] Holly Gornik,[3] and Brynjar Hoff,[4] among others. The theme has been called "unforgettable"[5] and a "celebrated oboe melody".[6] Vocalist Sarah Brightman begged Morricone to allow her to put lyrics to the theme to create her own song, "Nella Fantasia".[7][8] In 2010, Morricone encouraged soprano Hayley Westenra to write English lyrics for "Gabriel's Oboe" in her album Paradiso.[9]

Film soundtrack[edit]

From The Mission soundtrack by Ennio Morricone

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The soundtrack for the film was very well received amongst critics, being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score and earning Morricone the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.[10]

In the film, the theme is most prominently used when the protagonist, the Jesuit Father Gabriel, walks up to a waterfall and starts playing his oboe, aiming to befriend the natives with his music so he can carry his missionary work in the New World. The Guaraní tribesmen, who have been stalking him from a distance, approach Gabriel for the first time, puzzled by the sounds of the unknown instrument. (Wind instruments were known to the tribesmen, it was the arrangement of notes in ascending order that displeased the chief, it was opposite of the tribal style. The chief was displeased with the change, it was figurative of the dangerous change approaching the tribe.) The chief of the tribe, however, is displeased by this, and breaks Gabriel's oboe. This marks the beginning of the relationship between Father Gabriel and the Guaraní natives.

Several orchestras have performed "Gabriel's Oboe", often under the direction of Morricone himself. The most famous renditions of the piece, other than in the movie, are probably those found in the Morricone Conducts Morricone series of concerts during the mid-2000s.[5]

Keith and Kristyn Getty incorporated the song and blended it with their own verses with lyrics in their 2012 release "Hymns for the Christian Life" on track 12 "Holy Spirit (with Gabriel's Oboe)."

SATB choral arrangement[edit]

Extending the simple lyrics of the Christmas carol adaptation of Christina Rossetti's poem "Love Came Down at Christmas", Tom Fettke's arrangement for soprano-alto-tenor-bass incorporates Morricone's wind treatment[11] as the voice of the eponymous Archangel in his piece titled The Annunciation.[12]


  1. ^ Ennio Morricone (1992), The Mission: Original Soundtrack From The Motion Picture, Virgin Records, ASIN B000000WFZ 
  2. ^ Yo Yo Ma, Ennio Morricone, Roma Sinfonietta (2004), Yo-Yo Ma plays Morricone, Sony, ASIN B0002YCVXI 
  3. ^ Holly Gornik, Jay Richard (2002), Gabriel's Oboe: Music of Love from the Movies, ASIN B00007BK2G 
  4. ^ Brynjar Hoff, Kåre Nordstoga (1996), Gabriel's Oboe: Bessozzi, Kverno, Bizet, Etc, Norway Music, ASIN B0000044UH 
  5. ^ a b Ennio Morricone (2004), Morricone Conducts Morriconne, Euroarts, ASIN B000EQHRW4 
  6. ^ Michael McLennan (June 2006), "June 2006 Film Music DVD Review", MusicWeb, retrieved 2010-10-14 
  7. ^ Sarah Brightman (1999), One Night in Eden, Angel Records, ISBN 6305614350 
  8. ^ Philip Anderson (14 September 1999). "Sarah Brightman". KAOS2000 Magazine. Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  9. ^ "Hayley Westenra Presents 'Paradiso'". GetMusic. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  10. ^ "Awards for Ennio Morricone". Internet Movie Base. 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  11. ^ Paulo Rowlands, a brasilian conductor, wrote one of the most sublimes arrangement for this piece for a SATB vocal group. "The Annunciation". YouTube. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-17. 
  12. ^ Tom Fettke (2010). "The Annunciation incorporating "Gabriel's Oboe"" (SAMPLE PAGES). Hal Leonard. Retrieved 2012-04-17.