We regret to inform you that legendary film composer James Horner – the man behind the scores of films like Titanic and Braveheart – passed away today at the age of 61 in a plane crash near Santa Barbara. At the time of the accident, the pilot remained unidentified, although it has since been confirmed by his assistant that it was indeed Horner who was piloting the plane.
Born James Roy Horner on August 14th, 1953 in Los Angeles, California, Horner had pursued music from a very early age, first learning to play the piano at the age of five, and later attending several music schools, like the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, England. Before working on films, Horner became an accomplished concert hall composer.
It wasn’t until the late ’70s that Horner began to score films, with one of his earliest works being the 1979 film The Lady in Red. As Horner gradually gained recognition among some of the top talent in Hollywood, he started to work on larger projects. It was in 1982 that Horner finally achieved mainstream success with the score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The soundtrack to the film was written in a mere four-and-a-half weeks, but it changed Horner’s career forever.
Horner continued to create film scores for big films, including 48 Hrs. (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Aliens (1986), Willow (1988), Glory (1989), and Field of Dreams (1989). His work on Aliens would earn Horner his first Academy Award nomination, of which he would go onto receive ten in total.
In 1995, Horner made two of his best-known scores for Braveheart and Apollo 13. Those scores would go onto earn him critical acclaim and commercial success, but not quite as much as the score he composed two years later for Titanic. The Titanic album would go onto become the best-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack in history, with over 27 million copies being sold worldwide.
Titanic was just one of many of Horner’s collaborations with filmmaker James Cameron. The pair worked on several other films together, such as the aforementioned Aliens and 2009’s ginormous success Avatar. Horner also frequently worked with directors Joe Johnston (Jumanji, The Pagemaster, The Rocketeer and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) and Ron Howard (The Missing, A Beautiful Mind, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Ransom, Apollo 13 and Willow).
In recent years, Horner worked on several noteworthy films, like the remake of The Karate Kid and The Amazing Spider-Man. This year, Horner has several films set for release, such as The 33 and Southpaw.
In the time since learning of Horner’s passing, many past collaborators have expressed their condolences for the composer and his family, including star of A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe:
“My sincere condolences to the family, loved ones and friends of James Horner.”
Frequent collaborator Ron Howard also issued a statement on the passing of Horner:
“Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones.”
Fellow film composer Brian Tyler issued a statement regarding Horner’s passing as well:
“So saddened by the loss of James Horner, an incredible inspiration and a brilliant composer. I just can’t believe it.”
And Horner’s assistant, Sylvia Patrycja, said of Horner’s passing:
A great tragedy has struck my family today, and I will not be around for a while. I would like some privacy and time to heal. We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart, and unbelievable talent. He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road. Love Sylvia.
The film world will never be the same after the passing of James Horner. His unique sound, which included everything from the integration of choral and electronic elements to the use of Celtic elements, is what set him apart in the film-scoring world and is one of the reasons he is considered to be among the best modern film composers. During the span of Horner’s 37-year career, his music has influenced a wide array of people, and will continue to do so for many, many years to come.
All of us here at Screen Rant wish to express our most sincere condolences to Mr. Horner’s family, friends, and fans, in this difficult time. We have lost not only a great composer, but a great person as well.
R.I.P. James Roy Horner: August 14th, 1953 – June 22, 2015.