A Tribute to James Horner

jameshornerJames Horner died yesterday when the plane he was piloting went down.

He’s probably best known for his work composing the score to Titanic, but he’s actually done the music for 75 movies, making his feature-film debut in The Lady in Red, and breaking through with 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” He of course won two Oscars for his work on Titanic (best original score, and best original song for that Celine Dion travesty, My Heart Will Go On) and has a total of ten nominations under his belt. He worked with James Cameron originally with Aliens, and again on Avatar, and scored lots of other blockbuster movies, like Braveheart and Apollo 13.

He was a well-educated musician, studying piano at London’s Royal College of Music hornerand earning a music degree from the University of Southern California, and then his master’s and doctorate from UCLA. He was an accomplished concert hall composer before he followed his roots and made the move to movies – his father, Harry Horner, was a set designer and occasional art-director.

Horner composed the soundtrack of my childhood – An American Tale, and The Land Before Time were both beloved in my household, and while I remember the mouse with the big floppy ears, and the earnest little dinosaurs, I also remember the music.

A brilliant man gone to soon leaves behind quite a legacy. His most recent work was for the Jake Gyllenhaal movie Southpaw, but a list of his contributions makes it clear that if you’ve ever been to the movies, chances are, you’ve been a Horner fan all along: 48 hours, Cocoon, Willow, Field of Dreams, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Glory, The Rocketeer, Patriot Games, Legends of the Fall, Deep Impact, The Perfect Storm, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, House of Sand and Fog, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Amazing Spiderman. He’s made a huge impact on movies, and on all of us. We’re sad to see him go.

Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones. -Ron Howard

There is nothing that shaped my movie-going experience more than the musical genius of James Horner. He will live on through the ages. – Rob Lowe

RIP James Horner. Thank U for the beautiful music. We will miss what beautiful music was yet to come. – Diane Warren

Rene and I are shaken by the tragic death of James Horner, whom we considered a friend. We will always remember his kindness and great talent that changed my career. We send our prayers and deepest condolences to his family and friends. -Celine Dion

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19 thoughts on “A Tribute to James Horner

  1. Christopher

    Mention “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and the first thing that comes to mind for me is the music. Not Montalban and Shatner chewing so much scenery it’s a wonder they didn’t die of styrofoam poisoning. It was those high-powered horns in a minor key that I think of as “Khan’s theme”. Looking at his credits I think most of his other scores were subtler but just as distinctive. I too often forget just how important scores are in making movies work. Thank you for this reminder, and thank you James Horner.

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  2. David

    Nicely done, Jay. A terrible loss. I just stared at my screen for the longest time when I read the news. I have almost all of his scores and listen to his work so often. Thanks for this touching post.

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  3. fragglerocking

    can’t believe I’m crying at a pair of cartoon mice, but his music can do that to a person. What a great legacy he has, and I love your tribute.

    BTW The 2nd video says it “contains content from SME, who has blocked it in your country”. Really?? They’re blocking music from the country that invented The Beatle and Rolling Stones??? 🙂 Who the heck are SME? I need to write to them.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. If you like, I can call you and hum it to you. It’s quite lovely, and some parts even moving. 🙂

      Being Canadian, it’s usually we who are blocked from content. Nothing is ever fit for our eyes, it seems, so it’s weird that this is the exception.

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      1. fragglerocking

        Thanks for the offer , I have the Linda Ronstadt version already, which also causes tears, but you know they are GOOD tears, of empathy and joy. Please don’t call. Or hum. 😃 no we are not alone in the ‘being not suitable for music videos from USA’ We are opposed in the ladies footy World Cup match tomorrow, but in our hearts we are conjoined in a musical harmony. Just not a humming one. 😄

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  4. Through Her Looking Glass

    We’re on vacation at the Cape and I’d not yet heard this sad news, Jay. What a tragic loss. I loved the music from all those movies, particularly the Titanic and A Beautiful Mind….James will be missed the world over.

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