James Horner, one of the best known and most respected composers in cinema history, has died, aged 61. He leaves behind him a musical legacy that helped to define an era.
Throughout an incredibly successful career, Horner scored in excess of 100 movies. First Oscar nominated for his work on âAliensâ (1986) and again for âField of Dreamsâ (1989), amongst others, Hornerâs work would eventually earn him two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, ten Oscar nominations, seven Golden Globe nominations and three Bafta nominations.
The list of films scored by James Horner is a long and impressive one. From âStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khanâ (1982) and its sequel, 1984âs âThe Search For Spockâ, to more recent hits such as âThe Amazing Spider-Manâ (2012), âThe Karate Kidâ (2010) and âThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamasâ (2008), Horner scored more Hollywood blockbusters than some people have seen.
His rich, fluidic tones and warm, sweeping scores were occasionally offset by moments of experimentation, such as the African-style vocal harmonies used in his score for âAvatarâ (2009) or the steel drums used in cult Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle âCommandoâ (1985), all with the effect of serving the plot and the directorâs vision. He was also an extremely versatile mind, every bit as capable of scoring hard-hitting drama as flippant comedy or high-octane action. Perhaps this was why James Cameron chose Horner to score âTitanicâ (1997), a decision that proved to be very fruitful indeed. Both the score, and the song âMy Heart Will Go Onâ (performed by Celine Dion) won Oscars, while the song itself sold 15 million copies worldwide.
However, the list of hit films helped along to box office success by Hornerâs talents doesnât end there. 90âs crowd-pleasers âBraveheartâ (1995), âThe Mask of Zorroâ (1998), âDeep Impactâ (1998), Apollo 13â (1995), âCasperâ (1995) and âJumanjiâ (1995) all benefited from Hornerâs orchestrations, as did later films like âTroyâ (2004), âThe Legend of Zorroâ (2005) âThe Forgottenâ (2004), âIrisâ (2001), âA Beautiful Mindâ (2001), âBicentennial Manâ (1999), âWindtalkersâ (2002) âThe Perfect Stormâ (2000) and âEnemy at the Gatesâ (2001).
The list of films upon which Horner worked, or conducted for, is longer still. After youâve read this piece, head on over to IMDB and be amazed.
James Horner was born in Los Angeles, California in 1953. His father, Harry Horner, was an Oscar winning art director and set designer who had won the coveted awards for his work on 1949âs âThe Heiressâ and 1961âs âThe Hustlerâ, respectively. James learned to play the piano at age 5 and went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London, before studying music at the University of Southern California and doing postgraduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles.
His early successes included the movies â48 Hoursâ (1982), âCocoonâ (1985), â*Batteries Not Includedâ (1987) and âAn American Tailâ (1986) â which earned him an early Oscar nomination.
From there, Horner became one of Hollywoodâs most in-demand composers, scoring âWillowâ (1988), âHoney, I Shrunk The Kidsâ (1989), âThe Rocketeerâ (1991), âRansomâ (1996) and âMighty Joe Youngâ (1998), amongst (many) others.
On the 22nd June it was reported that one of Hornerâs private planes had crashed into the Los Padres National Forest near Ventucopa, California. He was the sole occupant of the craft when it crashed. Our best wishes and sincerest condolences go out to Hornerâs family, friends and fans. He shall be missed.