James Horner

born on 14/8/1953 in Los Angeles, CA, United States

died on 22/6/2015 in Los Padres National Forest, CA, United States

James Horner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
James Horner
Birth name James Roy Horner
Born August 14 1953
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres film score
Occupations Composer
Years active since 1979
Associated acts Will Jennings, Celine Dion, Sissel, Ian Underwood, Randy Kerber, Faith Hill, Linda Ronstadt, Charlotte Church, Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Leona Lewis

James Roy Horner (born August 14, 1953) is an American composer, orchestrator and conductor of orchestral and film music. He is noted for the integration of choral and electronic elements in many of his film scores, and for frequent use of Celtic musical elements.

Horner's career spans over three decades and he has composed several of Hollywood's most famous film scores. His acclaimed work on the score to the 1997 film Titanic remains the best selling orchestral film soundtrack of all time.[1]

In addition, Horner has scored over 100 films, frequently collaborating with acclaimed directors such as James Cameron and Ron Howard. Other scores he worked on include those of Braveheart, Apollo 13, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Glory, The Mask of Zorro, The Legend of Zorro, Enemy at the Gates, The Missing, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, A Beautiful Mind, The Perfect Storm and Avatar. Horner is a two-time Academy Award-winner, and has received a total of 10 Oscar nominations. He has won numerous other awards, including the Golden Globe Award and the Grammy Award.

Early life

Horner was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Austrian immigrants Joan (née Fraenkel) and Harry Horner, who was a production designer, set designer and occasional film director.[2]

Horner started playing piano at the age of five. His early years were spent in London, where he attended the Royal College of Music. He received his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Southern California, and eventually earned a master's and started working on his doctorate at the University of California, Los Angeles where he studied with Paul Chihara, among others. After several scoring assignments with the American Film Institute in the 1970s, he finished his teaching of music theory at UCLA and turned to film scoring.

Film and television scoring

Horner's first major film score was for the 1979 film, The Lady in Red. Like Les Baxter, he began his film scoring career by working for B movie director and producer Roger Corman, with his first composer credit for Corman's big-budget Battle Beyond the Stars. His works steadily gained notice in Hollywood, which led him to take on larger projects. Horner made a breakthrough in 1982, when he had the chance to score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, establishing himself as a mainstream composer.

Horner continued composing music for high-profile releases in the 1980s, including 48 Hrs. (1982), Krull (1983), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Commando (1985), Cocoon (1985), Aliens (1986), Willow (1988), Glory and Field of Dreams (both 1989).

Aliens earned Horner his first Academy Award nomination. He has been nominated an additional nine times since. Horner's scores have been sampled in film trailers for other movies. The climax of the track Bishop's Countdown from his score for Aliens ranks second in the most commonly-used soundtrack cues for film trailers.[3] Also, an unused fragment from Aliens was featured in a scene from Die Hard. Several films whose scores were composed by Michael Kamen have had trailers featuring Horner's music; most notably, the music from Willow is substituted for the theme Kamen wrote for the 1993 remake of The Three Musketeers. Horner also added his nominated Braveheart "For the Love of a Princess" single for Robert Zemeckis's Theatrical Trailer of Cast Away.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Horner also wrote orchestral scores for children's films (particularly those produced by Amblin Entertainment), with credits for An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), and Casper, Jumanji, and Balto (all from 1995).

In 1990, Horner composed the music for Universal's 75th Anniversary logo, which premiered with Back to the Future Part III and lasted in various forms until 1997. 1995 saw Horner produce no fewer than six scores, including his commercially successful and critically-acclaimed works for Braveheart and Apollo 13, both of which earned him Academy Award nominations. Horner's greatest financial and critical success would come in 1997, with the score to the motion picture, Titanic, which was greatly influenced by the music of Clannad.[4] The album became the best-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack in history, selling over 27 million copies worldwide.[5]

At the 70th Academy Awards, Horner won Oscars for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for "My Heart Will Go On" (which he co-wrote with Will Jennings). In addition, Horner and Jennings won three Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for the soundtrack and My Heart Will Go On.[6][7][8] Titanic also marked the first time in ten years that Horner worked with director James Cameron. Following the highly stressful scoring sessions for Aliens, Horner declared that he would never work with Cameron again. Horner described the experience of scoring the film as "a nightmare".

Since Titanic, Horner has continued to score for major productions (including The Perfect Storm, A Beautiful Mind, Enemy At The Gates, The Mask of Zorro, The Legend of Zorro, House of Sand and Fog and Bicentennial Man).

Aside from scoring major productions, Horner periodically works on smaller projects such as Iris, Radio and Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius. He received his eighth and ninth Academy Award nominations for A Beautiful Mind (2001) and House of Sand and Fog (2003), but lost on both occasions to Howard Shore. He frequently collaborates with film director Ron Howard, a partnership that began with Cocoon in 1985. Coincidentally, Horner's end title music from Glory can be heard in the trailer for Howard's Backdraft.

Horner composed the current theme music for the CBS Evening News. The theme was introduced as part of the debut of Katie Couric as anchor on September 5, 2006. It has since been adopted by most other CBS News programs as well.

Horner's most recent work is the score to James Cameron's latest film, Avatar, which was released in December 2009. It has since become the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing Cameron's previous Titanic, which Horner had also scored.

Horner spent over two years working on the score for Avatar, and did not take on any other projects during that time. Horner's work on Avatar earned him numerous award nominations, including his tenth Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, a BAFTA nomination, and a Grammy Award nomination, all of which he lost to Michael Giacchino for Up.

Regarding the experience of scoring Avatar, Horner said, "Avatar has been the most difficult film I have worked on and the biggest job I have undertaken... I work from four in the morning to about ten at night and thats been my way of life since March. That's the world I'm in now and it makes you feel estranged from everything. I'll have to recover from that and get my head out of Avatar. [9] It is currently unknown whether or not Horner will return as composer for the sequel(s) to Avatar.

Horner was recently confirmed to compose the score for the 2010 film, The Karate Kid, replacing Atli Örvarsson. This is the first film Horner has worked on since Avatar. [10]

Critical debate

Horner has been accused of transposing hooks, orchestral motifs, or larger passages from other scores of his own or of other composers.[11][12][13] These contentions are points of fierce debates between supporters of Horner and his detractors.[14]

List of film scores

1978 (for the AFI)

  • The Drought
  • Fantasies
  • Gist and Evans
  • Landscapes
  • Just for a Laugh
  • The Watcher


  • The Lady in Red
  • Up from the Depths


  • Humanoids from the Deep
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (score reused in later Roger Corman productions)


  • Deadly Blessing
  • The Hand
  • Wolfen
  • The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper


  • 48 Hrs.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


  • The Dresser
  • Gorky Park
  • Testament
  • Uncommon Valor
  • Brainstorm
  • Krull
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes


  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  • The Stone Boy


  • The Journey of Natty Gann
  • Volunteers
  • Commando
  • Cocoon
  • Heaven Help Us


  • The Name of the Rose
  • Off Beat
  • Where the River Runs Black
  • An American Tail (Oscar Nominee)
  • Aliens (Golden Globe & Oscar Nominee)


  • P.K. and the Kid
  • Project X
  • *batteries not included


  • The Land Before Time
  • Vibes
  • Cocoon: The Return
  • Red Heat
  • Willow


  • Dad
  • Field of Dreams (Oscar Nominee)
  • Glory (Golden Globe Nominee)
  • In Country
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids


  • I Love You to Death
  • Another 48 Hours


  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (Golden Globe Nominee)
  • Once Around
  • The Rocketeer
  • Class Action


  • Thunderheart
  • Sneakers
  • Unlawful Entry
  • Patriot Games


  • Bopha!
  • House of Cards
  • Jack the Bear
  • The Man Without a Face
  • Once Upon A Forest
  • Hocus Pocus (Sarah's Theme)
  • Searching for Bobby Fischer
  • Swing Kids
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story
  • The Pelican Brief
  • A Far Off Place


  • Legends of the Fall (Golden Globe Nominee)
  • The Pagemaster
  • Clear and Present Danger
  • Forest Gump(with Alan Silvestri)


  • Jade
  • Balto
  • Jumanji
  • Apollo 13 (Oscar Nominee)
  • Casper
  • Braveheart (Golden Globe, BAFTA & Oscar Nominee)


  • Ransom
  • To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday
  • Courage Under Fire
  • The Spitfire Grill


  • Titanic (Golden Globe, Grammy & Oscar Winner, BAFTA nominee)
  • The Devil's Own


  • Mighty Joe Young
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • Deep Impact


  • Bicentennial Man


  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • The Perfect Storm


  • Iris
  • A Beautiful Mind (Golden Globe & Oscar Nominee)
  • Enemy at the Gates


  • The Four Feathers
  • Windtalkers


  • House of Sand and Fog (Oscar Nominee)
  • The Missing
  • Beyond Borders
  • Radio


  • The Forgotten
  • Troy
  • Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius


  • The Chumscrubber
  • Flightplan
  • The Legend of Zorro
  • The New World


  • Apocalypto
  • All the King's Men


  • The Life Before Her Eyes


  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles


  • Avatar (Golden Globe, BAFTA & Oscar Nominee)


  • The Karate Kid

Television scores


  • A Few Days in Weasel Creek


  • A Piano for Mrs. Cimino


  • Between Friends


  • Amazing Stories (Episode: "Alamo Jobe")
  • Faerie Tale Theatre (Episode: "The Pied Piper of Hamelin")
  • Surviving


  • Tales from the Crypt (Episode: "Cutting Cards")
  • Extreme Close-Up


  • Crossroads (theme)
  • Fish Police (theme and pilot episode)


  • Freedom Song


  • CBS News

Short films


  • Let's Go


  • Captain EO (Epcot Center)


  • Tummy Trouble


  • Norman and the Killer

Concert works

  • "Conversations" (1976)
  • "Spectral Shimmers" (1977)
  • "A Forest Passage" (2000)

Miscellaneous works

  • Logo music for Universal Pictures, Lionsgate and Icon Productions CBS Films
  • THX trailer "Cimarron"

Awards and nominations

Horner has received 10 Academy Award nominations, 8 for Best Original Music Score, and twice for Best Original Song. Out of these nominations, Horner has won two Oscars, for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for Titanic.

Horner has also received five Golden Globe nominations, all in the category of Best Original Score, winning one, for Titanic, as well as seven Grammy Award nominations, winning for Glory (Best Score), An American Tail, and Titanic, the latter two being in the category of Best Song. He has also received three BAFTA nominations, but has not yet won.

Academy Award
  • 1987: Aliens (best original score)
  • 1987: "Somewhere Out There" (from: An American Tail, best original song)
  • 1990: Field of Dreams (best original score)
  • 1996: Apollo 13 (best original drama score)
  • 1996: Braveheart (best original drama score)
  • 1998: "My Heart Will Go On" (from: Titanic, best original song, Winner)
  • 1998: Titanic (best original drama score, Winner)
  • 2002: A Beautiful Mind (best original score)
  • 2004: House Of Sand And Fog (best original score)
  • 2010: Avatar (best original score)
Golden Globe
  • 1987: "Somewhere Out There" (from: An American Tail, best original song)
  • 1990: Glory (best original score)
  • 1992: "Dreams To Dream" (from: An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, best original song)
  • 1995: Legends of the Fall (best original score)
  • 1996: Braveheart (best original score)
  • 1998: "My Heart Will Go On" (from: Titanic, best original song, Winner)
  • 1998: Titanic (best original score, Winner)
  • 2002: A Beautiful Mind (best original score)
  • 2009: "Avatar" (best original score)
  • 1988: An American Tail
  • 1988: "Somewhere Out There" (from: An American Tail, Winner)
  • 1990: Field of Dreams
  • 1991: Glory (Winner)
  • 1996: "Whatever You Imagine" (from: The Pagemaster)
  • 1999: "My Heart Will Go On" (from: Titanic, Winner)
  • 2003: A Beautiful Mind
Satellite Awards
  • 1998: "My Heart Will Go On" (from: Titanic, Winner)
  • 1998: Titanic (Winner)
  • 2002: "All Love Can Be" (from: A Beautiful Mind, Winner)
  • 2002: A Beautiful Mind
  • 2004: The Missing
BAFTA Awards
  • 2009: Avatar
  • 1997: Titanic
  • 1995: Braveheart


  1. USA Today coverage of Horner's work
  2. Harry Horner's films as art director
  3. Top 100 Frequently Used Cues. soundtrack.net. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  4. MDM artist management - Clannad
  5. New mom Dion back with new album, Vegas deal
  6. Horner's win at the 70th annual Oscar telecast
  7. [1]
  8. Grammy Award winner
  9. Times Online
  10. Horner assigned to The Karate Kid movie remake
  11. "James Horner Criticism" at Encyclopedia II.
  12. Thomas Muething, "Wen immer es angeht" (To Whom It May Concern), in: Der Deutsche Film Musik-Dienst, Nr.30/1995 (in German)
  13. Alex Ross, "Oscar Scores", in The New Yorker, 9 March 1998.
  14. Lukas Kendall & Jeff Bond, "Letters about James Horner's Titanic," in Film Score Monthly, 1997.

External links

This page was last modified 21.04.2010 14:49:36

This article uses material from the article James Horner from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.