Gabriel's Oboe

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"Gabriel's Oboe"
Single by Ennio Morricone
from the album The Mission (soundtrack)
Released August 5, 1986
Recorded September 1985 – February 1986
Genre Classical
Length 2:14
Label Virgin Records
Songwriter(s) Ennio Morricone
Producer(s) 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]

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. 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]

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 SATB (soprano-alto-tenor-bass) arrangement incorporates Morricone's wind treatment as the voice of the eponymous Archangel in his piece titled The Annunciation.[11]


  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 (Audio CD)|format= requires |url= (help). Norway Music. ASIN B0000044UH.
  5. ^ a b Ennio Morricone (2004). Morricone Conducts Morriconne (DVD)|format= requires |url= (help). 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. ASIN 6305614350.
  8. ^ Philip Anderson (14 September 1999). "Sarah Brightman". KAOS2000 Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  9. ^ "Hayley Westenra Presents 'Paradiso'". GetMusic. 20 May 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-12-30. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  10. ^ "Awards for Ennio Morricone". Internet Movie Base. 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  11. ^ Tom Fettke (2010). "The Annunciation incorporating "Gabriel's Oboe"" (Sample pages). Hal Leonard. Retrieved 2012-04-17.