James Horner, film composer of Academy Award winning movies Titanic and Avatar, has died.
It isn’t enough to say that the film industry has lost a well respected and beloved composer, but that every person who has enjoyed music and song has lost a great and talented person. James Horner was one of the great ones when it came to film score and music. And we who are still here and have seen the movies he was involved in are fortunate to have heard his songs.
Horner, a trained pilot, was flying his single engine S312 Tucano near the Santa Barbara area when it crashed in a remote area. He was 61 years old.
He has over 150 credits to his name in composing from the 1970s to this year, including sci-fi movies like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Disney parks’ 3D short sci-fi musical Captain EO, and The Rocketeer to name a few.
The movies he was most recognized for composing are obviously the ones he was nominated for an Oscar for, which included one of the most popular songs ever, the Academy Award winning Original Song, “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic (shared with Will Jennings, who wrote the lyrics).
The popular composers other Academy-nominated songs were for James Cameron’s Avatar (2010), House of Sand and Fog (2004), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Apollo 13 (1995), Braveheart (1995), Field of Dreams (1989), Aliens (1986), and my personal favorite, another nomination for Original Song for An American Tail‘s “Somewhere Out There,” also shared with Will Jennings.
This article won’t do justice to the amount of beautiful music he has achieved in film. Music can be a hindrance or a great help when applied correctly to the scene that’s put up on the screen. His music was always more a great help than anything. Watch any of those films listed and you’ll be able to feel the emotion that the music is trying to evoke for the scene and you’ll find that it works flawlessly.
It’s because Horner understood music as more than just a paycheck or a possible award on his mantle. He achieved the greatness he had through his passion in the melodies and harmonies and everything in between. He only had two Oscars, but his success is greater than what he could tangibly show for it. Just by watching those movies and enjoying the moments when the music becomes the voice, even the supporting voice, of a scene, you’ll know he achieved greatness.
It didn’t matter if the movie was a somber movie based on a true story like A Beautiful Mind, or a romance on the brink of tragedy like Titanic, or if it was a sci-fi action adventure flick like Aliens, or even a cute animated story about a lost mouse like An American Tail, he understood that music could take you there and leave you feeling something.
Thanks James, for giving us a piece of your soul through your music. You will be missed.
Here’s a couple of videos of some of his most moving pieces:
The SchmoesKnow guys did a review of James Horner’s scores and listed their top 10, which you can watch below if you want a list of what soundtracks you might want to add to your collection: