A tribute to film composer James Horner

This morning when I woke up, I read the news about the death of one of my favourite film composers: James Horner. His work meant so much for me and I think for a lot of others. Since I also was and will be a fan of the music composed by James Horner, I decided to make a tribute. The first time I found out about James Horner was when I was 10-years-old. My parents had bought the film Titanic and I immediately fell in love with the music. So much my dad bought the cd for me. Since I also was very musical and played the keyboard, I tried to play the famous tune of the film. The Portrait might be the first song I played on the piano and this was the moment I wanted to learn more than just chords on a keyboard. Untill today, I still have the sheet music of The Portrait and still want to excel in it!

James Horner James Horner up close

But of course James Horner is not only known for Titanic. It is however the most popular score he made, since it’s the best selling orchestral film soundtrack of all time with over 27 million copies sold worldwide! At the 70th Academy Awards in 1998, Horner won Oscars for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song, three Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for the soundtrack and My Heart Will Go On, which he co-wrote with Will Jennings. Now we’ve talked about Titanic, lets see on which films he worked as well but first a short introduction.

James Roy Horner was an American composer, conductor, and orchestrator of film scores. He composed music for over 100 films, won several awards and got nominated more than a few times. He was known for the integration of choral and electronic elements in many of his scores and he often used Celtic musical elements. His breakthrough was in 1982, when he made the score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Horner’s first real success in the eighties came from Aliens, which brought him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score in 1987. Following an other favourite of mine. The song Somewhere out There from An American Tail, which he co-composed, was also nominated that year for Best Original Song. Since the success of Titanic, James Horner continued to score for major productions including The Mask of Zorro – another favourite – , The Perfect Storm, A Beautiful Mind and Enemy at the Gates. In 2009, Horner teamed up again with director James Cameron and worked two years on the score for the amazing film Avatar. His last project includes te film Southpaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.James Horner and James Cameron Titanic LiveLike I mentioned before, the scores of Titanic and The Mask of Zorro are at least two of my favourite film music. Of course there are more scores composed by Horner I love, but first I wanted to add that some of his scores are not just beautiful. They give something extra to the film, an extra dimension and emotions are amplified. That is what good film music needs to do. It must grab you and never let you go. On Spotify, I have my own list of film music including the scores of Hans Zimmer, Klaus Badelt Craig Armstrong, James Newton Howard and Alexandre Desplat. I can explain the importance of a good score, using two examples. Most of the time, the moment when I first hear the score is when I see the film. But with one film it was the other way around. I was listening random songs of James Horner on Spotify, when I heard The Ludlows from the film Legends of the Fall. From that moment I really wanted to see the film, because that song was so beautiful and so was the film! The Twilight films are definitely not my favourite films, but the score is. It’s not composed by James Horner but it does shows the importance of good film music. It can add something more to a film.

At last I will tell you which scores, made by the great, late James Horner, are my favourites. At the top – how can it not be – stands Titanic. It has been my favourite music since I was 10-years-old and it won’t change. Avatar comes in second place and the score of Legends of the Fall is my third favourite score. Nevertheless it’s very hard to make a top three at all! I love so many of his work, like The Mask of Zorro, Troy, An American Tale and Braveheart. To end this tribute I have for you the most beautiful piano tune: The Portrait from the Oscar winning film Titanic.


One thought on “A tribute to film composer James Horner

  1. His work on Braveheart is legendary if you ask me. But also his work on other movies like Titanic and Aliens is fantastic. May he rest in peace.

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