James Horner

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James Horner
James-horner.jpg
James Horner in 2012
Background information
Birth name James Roy Horner
Born (1953-08-14) August 14, 1953 (age 60)
Los Angeles
Origin Los Angeles
Genres Film score
Occupations Composer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1979–present

James Roy Horner (born August 14, 1953)[1] is an American composer, conductor, and orchestrator of 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. His score for the 1997 film Titanic remains the best selling orchestral film soundtrack of all time.[2][3]

Horner has scored over 100 films, frequently collaborating with directors such as James Cameron, Mel Gibson and Ron Howard. Other scores he has composed on include those for Commando, Braveheart, Willow, Apollo 13, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Cocoon, Legends of the Fall, Aliens, Glory, The Mask of Zorro, Field of Dreams, Enemy at the Gates, Casper, Troy, Bicentennial Man, The Rocketeer, A Beautiful Mind, Mighty Joe Young, The Perfect Storm, Deep Impact, Avatar and more recently, The Amazing Spider-Man.

Horner has won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, three Satellite Awards, three Saturn Awards, and has been nominated for three British Academy Film Awards. His body of work is also notable for including the scores to the two highest-grossing films of all time: Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009), both of which were directed by James Cameron.

Early life[edit]

Horner was born in Los Angeles, the son of Austrian Jewish immigrants Joan (née Frankel) and Harry Horner, who was a production designer, set designer and occasional film director.[4][5]

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 subsequently attended Verde Valley High School in Sedona, Arizona. He received his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Southern California. After he earned a master's degree he 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 teaching a course in music theory at UCLA and turned to film scoring.[6]

Film and television scoring[edit]

Horner's first major film score was for the 1979 film The Lady in Red. He began his career scoring films by working for B film director and producer Roger Corman. His first composer credit was 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. The film's director Nicholas Meyer famously quipped that he had been hired because the studio couldn't afford to use the first film's composer Jerry Goldsmith again, but by the time Meyer returned to the franchise with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, he found that he couldn't afford Horner.

Horner continued composing music for high-profile releases during the 1980s, including 48 Hrs. (1982), Krull (1983), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Commando (1985), Cocoon (1985), Aliens (1986), *batteries not included (1987), Willow (1988), Glory and Field of Dreams (both 1989).

Aliens earned Horner his first Academy Award nomination. He has since been nominated an additional nine times. Horner's scores have been sampled in trailers for other films. The climax of the track Bishop's Countdown from his score for Aliens ranks fifth in the most commonly used soundtrack cues for film trailers.[7] Also, an unused fragment from Aliens was featured in a scene in the 1988 film 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's "For the Love of a Princess" track from Braveheart was heard in the trailer for Robert Zemeckis's Cast Away.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s and the 2000s, 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) and 'How the Grinch stole Christmas (2000). He also composed the motif for the 1990-1997 Universal Pictures logo.

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 with the score to the 1997 film Titanic. The album became the best-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack in history, selling over 27 million copies worldwide.[8]

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.[9][10] 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 and described the experience of scoring Aliens as "a nightmare").[citation needed]

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).[1]

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 2006-2011 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.[citation needed]

Horner recollaborated with James Cameron on the 2009 film Avatar, which was released in December 2009 and has since become the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing Titanic (also directed by Cameron and scored by Horner).

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 Academy Award nomination as well as Golden Globe Award, British Academy Film Award, and Grammy Award nominations, all of which he lost to Michael Giacchino for Up.[11]

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 that’s 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."[12]

Horner composed the score for the film The Karate Kid, replacing Atli Örvarsson. This film—the first that Horner worked on after Avatar[13]—was released in 2010. In 2011, Horner scored Cristiada (aka For Greater Glory) which was released a year later and Black Gold. In 2012 Horner scored The Amazing Spider-Man, which starred Andrew Garfield and premiered on July 3.

Horner's future projects include the music for the forthocming film Fathers and Daughters for director Gabriele Muccino, which will be released in 2015. He will also write the music for Jean-Jacques Annaud's forthcoming adventure film, Wolf Totem, scheduled for release in February 2015. This will mark the fourth collaboration between Horner and Annaud.

Critical debate[edit]

Horner has been criticized for reusing hooks and motifs from other pieces of music, both his own and those of other composers.[14][15][16] A noticeable example of this is a four-note motif, nicknamed the "Danger Motif" by some fans and critics,[who?] which has appeared in many of Horner's scores.[citation needed]

List of scores[edit]

Film[edit]

1970s[edit]

1980s[edit]

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
1980 Humanoids from the Deep Barbara Peeters New World Pictures
Battle Beyond the Stars Jimmy T. Murakami New World Pictures Score reused in later Roger Corman productions
1981 The Hand Oliver Stone Orion Pictures
Wolfen Michael Wadleigh Warner Bros.
Deadly Blessing Wes Craven United Artists
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper Roger Spottiswoode Universal Pictures
1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Nicholas Meyer Paramount Pictures
48 Hrs. Walter Hill Paramount Pictures
1983 Something Wicked This Way Comes Jack Clayton Walt Disney Pictures
Krull Peter Yates Columbia Pictures
Brainstorm Douglas Trumbull Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Testament Lynne Littman Paramount Pictures
The Dresser Peter Yates Columbia Pictures
Gorky Park Michael Apted Orion Pictures
Uncommon Valor Ted Kotcheff Paramount Pictures
1984 The Stone Boy Christopher Cain 20th Century Fox
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Leonard Nimoy Paramount Pictures
1985 Heaven Help Us Michael Dinner TriStar Pictures
Cocoon Ron Howard 20th Century Fox
Volunteers Nicholas Meyer TriStar Pictures
The Journey of Natty Gann Jeremy Kagan Walt Disney Pictures
Commando Mark L. Lester 20th Century Fox
1986 Off Beat Michael Dinner Touchstone Pictures
Aliens James Cameron 20th Century Fox Oscar & Golden Globe nomination
Where the River Runs Black Christopher Cain Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Name of the Rose Jean-Jacques Annaud 20th Century Fox
An American Tail Don Bluth Universal Pictures Oscar nomination
1987 P.K. and the Kid Lou Lombardo Sunn Classic Pictures
Project X Jonathan Kaplan 20th Century Fox
*batteries not included Matthew Robbins Universal Pictures
1988 Willow Ron Howard Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Red Heat Walter Hill TriStar Pictures
Vibes Ken Kwapis Columbia Pictures
The Land Before Time Don Bluth Universal Pictures
Cocoon: The Return Daniel Petrie 20th Century Fox
1989 Field of Dreams Phil Alden Robinson Universal Pictures Oscar nomination
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Joe Johnston Walt Disney Pictures
In Country Norman Jewison Warner Bros. Pictures
Dad Gary David Goldberg Universal Pictures
Glory Edward Zwick TriStar Pictures Golden Globe nomination

1990s[edit]

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
1990 I Love You to Death Lawrence Kasdan TriStar Pictures
Another 48 Hrs. Walter Hill Paramount Pictures
1991 Once Around Lasse Hallström Universal Pictures
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys Stuart Rosenberg The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Class Action Michael Apted 20th Century Fox
The Rocketeer Joe Johnston Walt Disney Pictures
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells Amblin Entertainment Golden Globe nomination
1992 Thunderheart Michael Apted TriStar Pictures
Sneakers Phil Alden Robinson Universal Studios
Unlawful Entry Jonathan Kaplan 20th Century Fox
Patriot Games Phillip Noyce Paramount Pictures
1993 Swing Kids Thomas Carter Hollywood Pictures
A Far Off Place Mikael Salomon Walt Disney Pictures
Jack the Bear Marshall Herskovitz 20th Century Fox
Once Upon a Forest Charles Grosvenor 20th Century Fox
House of Cards Michael Lessac Miramax Films
Hocus Pocus Kenny Ortega Walt Disney Pictures Only wrote "Sarah's Theme"
Searching for Bobby Fischer Steven Zaillian Paramount Pictures
The Man Without a Face Mel Gibson Warner Bros.
Bopha! Morgan Freeman Paramount Pictures
We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells Universal Pictures
The Pelican Brief Alan J. Pakula Warner Bros.
1994 Clear and Present Danger Phillip Noyce Paramount Pictures
The Pagemaster Joe Johnston Turner Pictures
Legends of the Fall Edward Zwick TriStar Pictures Golden Globe nomination
1995 Braveheart Mel Gibson Paramount Pictures Oscar, Golden Globe & BAFTA nomination
Casper Brad Silberling Universal Pictures
Apollo 13 Ron Howard Universal Pictures Oscar nomination
Jade William Friedkin Paramount Pictures
Jumanji Joe Johnston TriStar Pictures
Balto Simon Wells Amblin Entertainment
1996 The Spitfire Grill Lee David Zlotoff Columbia Pictures
Ransom Ron Howard Touchstone Pictures
1997 The Devil's Own Alan J. Pakula Columbia Pictures
Titanic James Cameron 20th Century Fox Oscar, Golden Globe & Grammy winner, BAFTA nomination
1998 Deep Impact Mimi Leder Paramount Pictures
The Mask of Zorro Martin Campbell TriStar Pictures
Mighty Joe Young Ron Underwood Walt Disney Pictures
1999 Bicentennial Man Chris Columbus Touchstone Pictures

2000s[edit]

Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2000 The Perfect Storm Wolfgang Petersen Warner Bros. Pictures
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Ron Howard Universal Pictures
2001 Enemy at the Gates Jean-Jacques Annaud Paramount Pictures
Iris Richard Eyre Miramax Films
A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard Universal Pictures Golden Globe & Oscar Nominee
2002 Windtalkers John Woo Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Four Feathers Shekhar Kapur Paramount Pictures
2003 Beyond Borders Martin Campbell Paramount Pictures
Radio Michael Tollin Columbia Pictures
The Missing Ron Howard Columbia Pictures
House of Sand and Fog Vadim Perelman DreamWorks Pictures Oscar Nominee
2004 Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius Rowdy Herrington Film Foundry Releasing
Troy Wolfgang Petersen Warner Bros. Pictures
The Forgotten Joseph Ruben Columbia Pictures
2005 The Chumscrubber Arie Posin Go Fish Pictures
Flightplan Robert Schwentke Touchstone Pictures
The Legend of Zorro Martin Campbell Columbia Pictures
The New World Terrence Malick New Line Cinema
2006 All the King's Men Steven Zaillian Columbia Pictures
Apocalypto Mel Gibson Touchstone Pictures
2007 The Life Before Her Eyes Vadim Perelman Magnolia Pictures
2008 The Spiderwick Chronicles Mark Waters Paramount Pictures
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Mark Herman Miramax Films
2009 Avatar James Cameron 20th Century Fox Golden Globe, BAFTA & Oscar Nominee

2010s[edit]

Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2010 The Karate Kid Harald Zwart Columbia Pictures
2011 Day of the Falcon Jean-Jacques Annaud Image Entertainment [17]
2012 Cristiada Dean Wright ARC Entertainment
The Amazing Spider-Man Marc Webb Columbia Pictures
2015 Wolf Totem Jean-Jacques Annaud
Fathers and Daughters Gabriele Muccino
2016 Avatar 2 James Cameron 20th Century Fox
2017 Avatar 3 James Cameron 20th Century Fox

Television[edit]

  • 1981 A Few Days in Weasel Creek
  • 1981 Angel Dusted
  • 1982 A Piano for Mrs. Cimino
  • 1982 Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
  • 1983 Between Friends
  • 1985 Amazing Stories (Episode: "Alamo Jobe")
  • 1985 Faerie Tale Theatre (Episode: "The Pied Piper of Hamelin")
  • 1985 Surviving
  • 1990 Tales from the Crypt (Episode: "Cutting Cards")
  • 1990 Extreme Close-Up
  • 1992 Crossroads (theme)
  • 1992 Fish Police (theme and pilot episode)
  • 2000 Freedom Song
  • 2006 CBS Evening News

Short films[edit]

  • 1985 Let's Go
  • 1986 Captain EO (shown at Walt Disney theme parks worldwide)
  • 1989 Tummy Trouble
  • 1991 Norman and the Killer
  • 2012 First in Flight

Concert works[edit]

  • 1976: "Conversations"
  • 1977: "Spectral Shimmers"
  • 1998: "Titanic Suite"
  • 2000: "A Forest Passage"
  • 2012: "Titanic 3D Premiere'
  • 2013: "Flight"
  • 2014: "Double Concerto (for violin and cello)'
  • 2015: "For Four Horns'

Miscellaneous works[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Horner has won two Academy Awards, for Best Original Dramatic Score (Titanic) and Best Original Song ("My Heart Will Go On") in 1998, and has been nominated for an additional eight Oscars. He has also won two Golden Globe Awards, three Satellite Awards, three Saturn Awards, and has been nominated for three British Academy Film Awards.

In October 2013 James Horner received the Max Steiner Award at the Hollywood in Vienna Gala, an award given for extraordinary achievements in the field of film music.[18] Thus, Horner will be fifth composer to receive this award, after John Barry, Howard Shore, Alan Silvestri and Lalo Schifrin.

AFI[edit]

In 2005, the American Film Institute unveiled their list of the top twenty-five American film scores. Five of Horner's scores were among 250 nominees, making him the most nominated composer to not make the top twenty-five:[19]

List of accolades[edit]

Award Year Project Category Outcome
Academy Awards 1986 Aliens Best Original Score Nominated
"Somewhere Out There" (from An American Tail; shared with Cynthia Weil) Best Original Song Nominated
1989 Field of Dreams Best Original Score Nominated
1995 Apollo 13 Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
Braveheart Best Original Dramatic Score Nominated
1997 Titanic Best Original Dramatic Score Won
"My Heart Will Go On" (from Titanic; shared with Will Jennings) Best Original Song Won
2001 A Beautiful Mind Best Original Score Nominated
2003 House Of Sand And Fog Best Original Score Nominated
2009 Avatar Best Original Score Nominated
BAFTA Awards 1995 Braveheart Best Film Music Nominated
1997 Titanic Best Film Music Nominated
2009 Avatar Best Film Music Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association 1997 Titanic Best Original Score Won
2001 A Beautiful Mind Best Original Score Nominated
2009 Avatar Best Original Score Nominated
Golden Globe Awards 1986 "Somewhere Out There" (from An American Tail; shared with Cynthia Weil) Best Original Song Nominated
1989 Glory Best Original Score Nominated
1991 "Dreams to Dream" (from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West; shared with Will Jennings) Best Original Song Nominated
1994 Legends of the Fall Best Original Score Nominated
1995 Braveheart Best Original Score Nominated
1997 Titanic Best Original Score Won
"My Heart Will Go On" (from Titanic; shared with Will Jennings) Best Original Song Won
2001 A Beautiful Mind Best Original Score Nominated
2009 Avatar Best Original Score Nominated
Satellite Awards 1997 Titanic Best Original Score Won
"My Heart Will Go On" (from Titanic; shared with Will Jennings) Best Original Song Won
2001 A Beautiful Mind Best Original Score Nominated
"All Love Can Be" (from A Beautiful Mind; shared with Will Jennings) Best Original Song Won
2003 The Missing Best Original Score Nominated
Saturn Awards 1983 Brainstorm Best Music Won
Krull Best Music Nominated
Something Wicked This Way Comes Best Music Nominated
1985 Cocoon Best Music Nominated
1986 An American Tail Best Music Nominated
1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Best Music Nominated
1995 Braveheart Best Music Nominated
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Best Music Won
2009 Avatar Best Music Won

Grammy

  • 1988: An American Tail - Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television
  • 1988: "Somewhere Out There" (from: An American Tail, Winner) - Song of The Year
  • 1988: "Somewhere Out There" (from: An American Tail, Winner) - Best Song Written specifically For a Motion Picture or Television
  • 1990: Field of Dreams - Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television
  • 1991: Glory (Winner) - Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television
  • 1996: "Whatever You Imagine" (from: The Pagemaster) - Best Song Written specifically For a Motion Picture or Television
  • 1999: "My Heart Will Go On" (from: Titanic, Winner) - Record of The Year
  • 1999: "My Heart Will Go On" (from: Titanic, Winner) - Song of The Year
  • 1999: "My Heart Will Go On" (from: Titanic, Winner) - Best Song Written For A Motion Picture or for Television
  • 2003: A Beautiful Mind - Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
  • 2011: Avatar - Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
  • 2011: "I See You" (from: Avatar) - Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Clemmensen, Christian. "James Horner (1953-)". Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  2. ^ USA Today coverage of Horner's work
  3. ^ Clemmensen, Christian (18 November 1997, Revised 16 April 2012). "Titanic (James Horner)". Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Harry Horner's films as art director
  5. ^ http://moviemusicuk.us/2008/11/07/the-boy-in-the-striped-pyjamas-james-horner/
  6. ^ MacDonald, Laurence E. The invisible art of film music: a comprehensive history. Ardsley House Publishers, 1998: p. 328 [1]
  7. ^ "Top 100 Frequently Used Cues". soundtrack.net. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  8. ^ New mom Dion back with new album, Vegas deal
  9. ^ Horner's win at the 70th annual Oscar telecast
  10. ^ HFPA – Awards Search
  11. ^ Clemmensen, Christian (25 January 2010, revised 2 August 2011). "Up: (Michael Giacchino)". Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Times Online
  13. ^ Horner assigned to The Karate Kid film remake
  14. ^ Thomas Muething, "Wen immer es angeht" (To Whom It May Concern), in: Der Deutsche Film Musik-Dienst, Nr.30/1995 (in German)
  15. ^ Alex Ross, "Oscar Scores", in The New Yorker, March 9, 1998.
  16. ^ Lukas Kendall & Jeff Bond, "Letters about James Horner's Titanic," in Film Score Monthly, 1997.
  17. ^ – filmmusicreporter.com
  18. ^ James Horner to receive Max Steiner Award, January 24th, 2013, retrieved March 4th, 2013
  19. ^ "AFI's 100 Years Of Film Scores". American Film Institute. 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 

External links[edit]