Oscar Winning Composer James Horner Dies in Plane Crash at Age 61
Tragic news to report about one of our favorite composers. On the morning of Monday, June 22nd, a single-engine S-312 Tucano MK-1 airplane piloted by composer James Horner crashed in California. Horner was the only one on board and perished in the accident. He was an experienced pilot and loved flying. Many major media outlets are now confirming that the missing pilot was indeed James Horner, despite confusion on Monday evening regarding whether he was actually piloting the plane registered to his name. Horner won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1998 for Titanic, and also won for Best Original Song. He has been nominated 7 other times, including at age 34 after writing the score for James Cameron's Aliens.
James Horner lead a distinguished and successful career as a composer, conductor and song-writer for over 30 years. He composed the score to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at age 28, before going on to work with filmmakers the likes of James Cameron, Ron Howard, Douglas Trumbull, Wolfgang Petersen, Joe Johnston. His legacy includes the scores for so many movies: Krull, Willow, Brainstorm, Cocoon, Commando, Aliens, An American Tail, Field of Dreams, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Glory, Apollo 13, The Rocketeer, Patriot Games, Jumanji, Braveheart, Titanic, Mighty Joe Young, The Mask of Zorro, Deep Impact, The Perfect Storm, Enemy at the Gates, A Beautiful Mind, Sneakers, Troy, Flightplan, Apocalypto, Avatar and Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man. A beautiful quote from a 2009 interview with Horner in the LA Times:
"My job — and it’s something I discuss with Jim [Cameron] all the time — is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart. When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears — at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling. That is my primary role. I have to color all the rest, and be on top of all the details and part of all the action and paint everything with my weird colors and weird orchestra and all that, but my primary job is knowing what the heart is feeling."
According to IMDb, the last films James Horner was attached to are The 33, the Chilean mining accident movie due out this November; and Antoine Fuqua's Southpaw with Jake Gyllenhaal, due in theaters this summer. He did finish work on both Southpaw and The 33, so these two will be his final scores. Horner was also planning to reteam with James Cameron for the next set of Avatar sequels. This really is tragic because Horner was such a distinguished artist who was still working hard in the movie industry. And everyone has a favorite score or two from his vast filmography. Everyone knows his music, and there are some tracks we'll just never forget. For a wonderful look back at Horner's work on the underrated Sneakers, read this article.
I have to include this selection (embedded above) of James Horner's beautiful Field of Dreams score. RIP.