Scores of stand­outs for James Horner

Los Angeles Times - - SUNDAY CALENDAR - By Oliver Get­tell oliver.get­tell@latimes.com

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.

“Titanic” (1997)

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.

Merie W. Wal­lace Para­mount Pic­tures

“TITANIC” won James Horner two Os­cars.

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