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James Horner, 1953-2015

James HornerComposer James Horner has been killed in a plane crash. Horner died when the single engine S312 Tucano plane he was piloting crashed in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, California. He was 61 years old.

James Roy Horner was born in Los Angeles in August 1953, the son of Harry Horner, an Oscar-nominated Hollywood production designer and occasional film director who emigrated from Austria. He attended high school in California and Arizona, but spent most of his formative years living in London, where he attended the Royal College of Music, and later completed his PhD at UCLA in Los Angeles. After scoring several short film projects for the American Film Institute in the late 1970s, and spending several years teaching, Horner joined the staff at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, scoring several low-budget genre films, including the popular Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), and working with soon-to-be Hollywood bigwigs such as director James Cameron and producer Gale Ann Hurd.

Horner launched into the big time in 1982 with his score for the critically acclaimed and commercially popular science fiction sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and from that point on Horner quickly rose to become one of the most in-demand composers in Hollywood. In the 1980s and 90s Horner became known for his grand, large-scale, emotional orchestral works; he scored a succession of box office hit movies including 48 HRS. (1982), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), The Pelican Brief (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Apollo 13 (1995) and Ransom (1996), and wrote enormously popular scores for films such as Krull (1983), Cocoon (1985), Willow (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), Glory (1989), Legends of the Fall (1994) and Braveheart (1995), culminating in the massive Titanic in 1997, which remains one of the biggest-selling orchestral score albums of all time. Following the turn of the millennium Horner’s career continued apace, with scores for further box office successes such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Perfect Storm (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Avatar (2009) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) amongst his efforts.

Horner was a 10-time Oscar nominee; he received two Academy Awards in 1997 for Titanic, for Best Score and Best Song, the latter for “My Heart Will Go On” performed by Celine Dion. In addition, Horner earned Best Score nominations for Aliens in 1986, Field of Dreams in 1989, Braveheart and Apollo 13 in 1995, A Beautiful Mind in 2001, House of Sand and Fog in 2003, and Avatar in 2009, as well as a Best Song nomination for “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail, also in 1986. In addition to this, Horner won two Golden Globes (from 10 nominations), and six Grammy Awards, including two for overall Best Song of the Year, in 1987 for “Somewhere Out There” and in 1998 for “My Heart Will Go On”.

In addition to his film music, Horner had also written a number of classical and concert pieces, most recently Pas de Deux, a double concerto for violin, cello, and orchestra commissioned by the Norwegian brother/sister musical duo Mari and Hakon Samuelson, which premiered in Liverpool, UK, in November 2014. He wrote hit songs for artists such as Diana Ross, Linda Ronstadt, Tina Arena, John ‘Cougar’ Mellencamp, Charlotte Church and Faith Hill, contributed the theme to the short-lived current affairs show “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric”, and wrote music for the Horsemen P-51 Aerobatic Flight Team, of which Horner was a member, and through which Horner expressed his personal love of aviation and flying.

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