American composer James Horner (born August 14, 1953) was killed in a plane crash earlier this Monday at the age of 61. Horner – who became one of the leading film score composers of his generation – developed an interest in composition early in life, with his studies taking him to the Royal Academy of Music in London and the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles to study. Subsequent work with the American Film Institute (AFI) propelled him to highly prominent jobs in Hollywood at a young age. Horner would be nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning twice for Titanic’s original score and for Best Original Song for “My Heart Will Go On”.

Nine of the many films he worked on follow. Excerpts from each film score can be heard if you click on the link (left-right, descending):

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) – directed by Nicholas Meyer; starring William Shatner, Ricardo Montalbán, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and Kirstie Alley

An American Tail (1986) – directed and co-produced by Don Bluth; starring the voices of Cathianne Blore, Dom DeLuise, John Finnegan, Phillip Glasser, Amy Green, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Plummer

Willow (1988) – directed by Ron Howard; starring Val Kilmer, Joanna Whalley, and Warwick Davis

The Land Before Time (1988) – directed and co-produced by Don Bluth; starring the voices of Gabriel Damon, Candace Huston, Judith Barsi, and Will Ryan

Glory (1989) – directed by Edward Zwick; starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, Cliff De Young, Andre Braugher, and Jihmi Kennedy

The Rocketeer (1991) – directed by Joe Johnston; starring Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, and Timothy Dalton

Legends of the Fall (1994) – directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick; starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, and Henry Thomas

Apollo 13 (1995) – directed by Ron Howard; starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris

Titanic (1997) – directed, co-produced, and written by James Cameron; starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Bill Paxton, and Gloria Stuart

Other scores of interest: Krull (1983), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Cocoon (1985), Aliens (1986), Field of Dreams (1989), Braveheart (1995), Jumanji (1995), The Missing (2003), The Legend of Zorro (2005), and Avatar (2009).


He was one of my favorite film music composers…

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