Scores of standouts for James Horner
James Horner, the celebrated film composer who died in a single-engine plane crash Monday, long considered himself a sonic chameleon.
“A lot of people can’t figure me out,” he told The Times in 1986, during the early part of his career. “They say, ‘Horner doesn’t have any convictions. He’s got no style. He’s all over the place.’ They can’t quite pigeonhole me.”
In the three decades since, Horner demonstrated that, in fact, he had style to spare as he accumulated more than 100 feature film credits and won two Oscars. Here are a few of his memorable movie scores: “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982)
Horner was a relative unknown when he booked this sci-fi sequel, which has come to be regarded by many fans as the finest of the “Star Trek” movies. Working closely with director Nicholas Meyer, who envisioned a Space Age Horatio Hornblower-type adventure, Horner crafted a nautical-inspired, actionpacked score. “Field of Dreams” (1989)
While Universal wanted a sweeping score for its Kevin Costner-starring baseball fantasy, Horner and writerdirector Phil Alden Robinson envisioned something quieter, more ethereal.
“I thought a big orchestra was the last thing I’d ever attempt,” Horner said. Instead, he tried to capture “a sound of an orchestra without it being an orchestra” by scoring much of the film for a small group of synthesizer players.
A decade after Horner and filmmaker James Cameron had a falling-out on “Aliens” (which nevertheless earned Horner his first Oscar nomination for score), they reunited on “Titanic,” which of course became a mega-hit.
The film earned Horner two Oscars: one for his poignant score, featuring uilleann pipes, Irish whistles and the wordless vocals of Norway’s Sissel, and one for the Celine Dion ballad “My Heart Will Go On” (lyrics by Will Jennings).
“A Beautiful Mind” (2001)
Horner often came under fire for borrowing motifs from classical composers and his own previous work, and this Ron Howard film about mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe) found the composer squarely in his musical comfort zone. Even so, the score — laced with frenetic piano and strings, balanced by Charlotte Church’s vocals — is a potent synthesis that was recognized with an Oscar nod.
“TITANIC” won James Horner two Oscars.