James Horner , one of the most prolific film score composers of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s tragically lost his life yesterday in an aircraft accident.
He was best known as the composer for two of the world's highest grossing films, Titanic and Avatar - both of which earned him Oscar nods, a win in the case of Titanic as well as it's song “My Heart Will Go On”. He would receive another 7 Oscar and three BAFTA nominations as well as winning two Golden Globes, three Saturn Awards and three Satellite Awards throughout his career.
Horner had little issue composing scores for impressive works in the field of motion pictures such as Glory and Braveheart, family favourites like Jumanji and Casper, period epics like Troy and Legends of the Fall, balls-out action movies like Commando and Red Heat, for animated movies including The Land Before Time and An American Tail, comedy such as Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Hocus Pocus, thrillers including Ransom and Patriot Games and even for comic-book heroes The Rocketeer and The Amazing Spider-Man. With over 100 scores under his belt he was one of few composers who catered for everybody and any type of movie.
In an interview in 2010, Horner said that scoring Avatar was the toughest assignment he had taken on and he needed time to get it out of his system, so he had done little of note since but he was collaborating with James Cameron in providing music for the director's Avatar sequels over the course of the next few years.
Horner was one of the first composers whose work I listened to daily. His compositions along with those of John Williams, Danny Elfman and the late Jerry Goldsmith were the four cornerstones of my musical tastes for many years. Among my favourites from Horner are Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan [‘82], Aliens [‘86], Willow [‘87], The Rocketeer [‘91], Braveheart [‘94], Apollo 13 [‘94], The Mask of Zorro [‘98] and Enemy at the Gates [‘00].
Horner was often mocked for lifting sequences and musical motifs - as well as almost entire segments from one of his own scores and adapting them to fit the musical scores of other movies he was assigned to. Throughout the years his audience became more accepting of this quirk and when recognised upon listening it can only bring a smile to the face of his true fans.
Many of Horner's detractors were critical of his use of the works of classical music composers such as Orff, Elgar and Wagner and labelled his works as derivative - but if anything he spotlighted the works of the classical greats he admired and cherished the works of, and helped them to be discovered by successive generations. I have no doubt that in the future, composers of scores will even use Horner's own cues in the same way he did, and make it part of their work as a homage and as they take us on a new musical journey of their making.
Thank you James Horner for over 100 gifts to us over the years and may you rest in peace.