Project Description

Artist Profile

James
Horner

James Roy Horner (August 14, 1953 – June 22, 2015)

Artist Profile

James
Horner

James Roy Horner (August 14, 1953 – June 22, 2015)

James Roy Horner (August 14, 1953 – June 22, 2015) was an American composer, conductor and orchestrator of film scores, writing over 100.

Biography

He was known for the integration of choral and electronic elements, and for his frequent use of motifs associated with Celtic music.

Horner’s first major score was in 1979 for The Lady in Red, but he did not establish himself as an eminent film composer until his work on the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. His score for James Cameron’s Titanic is the best-selling orchestral film soundtrack of all time. He also wrote the score for the highest-grossing film of all time, Cameron’s Avatar.

Horner collaborated on multiple projects with directors including Don Bluth, James Cameron, Joe Johnston, Walter Hill and Ron Howard; producers including George Lucas, David Kirschner, Jon Landau, Brian Grazer and Steven Spielberg; and songwriters including Will Jennings, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. He won two Academy Awards, six Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, three Satellite Awards, and three Saturn Awards, and was nominated for three BAFTA Awards.

Horner, who was an avid pilot, died at the age of 61 in a single-fatality crash while flying his Short Tucano turboprop aircraft. His death was widely lamented in both the film and music industry.

Awards and Nominations

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

In October 2013, Horner received the Max Steiner Award at the Hollywood in Vienna Gala, an award given for extraordinary achievement in the field of film music.

AFI

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.

  • Field of Dreams (1989)
  • Glory (1989)
  • Apollo 13 (1995)
  • Braveheart (1995)
  • Titanic (1997)

1986

Aliens is a 1986 American science fiction action film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by Gale Anne Hurd and starring Sigourney Weaver.

Music composer James Horner felt he was not given enough time to create a musical score. Horner arrived in England and expected the film to be completed and to write the score in six weeks, which he thought was a sufficient amount of time. Horner, however, discovered that filming and editing were still taking place, and he was unable to view the film. He visited the sets and editing rooms for three weeks and found that editor Ray Lovejoy was barely keeping up with the workload for reasons of time restrictions. Horner believed Cameron was preoccupied with sound effects, citing that Cameron spent two days with the sound engineer creating the sounds for the pulse rifles. He also complained that he was given an outdated recording studio; the score was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, a then-30-year-old studio that was barely able to patch in synthesizers or use the electronic equipment that Horner required.

Six weeks from theatrical release, no dubbing had taken place and the score had not been written as Horner was unable to view the completed film. The final cue for the scene in which Ripley battles the alien queen was written overnight. Cameron completely reworked the scene, leaving Horner to rewrite the music. As Gale Hurd did not have much music production experience, she and Cameron denied Horner’s request to push the film back four weeks so he could finish the score. Horner felt that, given more time, he could get the score to 100% of his satisfaction rather than the 80% he estimated he had been able to achieve. The score was recorded in roughly four days. Despite his troubles, Horner received an Academy Award nomination (his first) for Best Original Score.

Horner stated that tensions between himself and Cameron were so high during post-production that he assumed they would never work together again. Horner believed that Cameron’s film schedules were too short and stressful. The two parted ways until 1997 when Cameron, impressed with Horner’s score for Braveheart, asked him to compose the score for Titanic.

1989

Field of Dreams is a 1989 American fantasy-drama sports film written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson, adapting W. P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe.

At first, James Horner was unsure if he could work on the film due to scheduling restrictions. Then he watched a rough cut and was so moved that he accepted the job of scoring it. Robinson had created a temp track which was disliked by Universal executives. When the announcement of Horner as composer was made, they felt more positive because they expected a big orchestral score, similar to Horner’s work for An American Tail. Horner, in contrast, liked the temporary score, finding it “quiet and kind of ghostly.” He decided to follow the idea of the temp track, creating an atmospheric soundtrack which would “focus on the emotions”. In addition to Horner’s score, portions of several pop songs are heard during the film. They are listed in the following order in the closing credits:

1995

Apollo 13 is a 1995 American space docudrama film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris.

The score to Apollo 13 was composed and conducted by James Horner. The soundtrack was released in 1995 by MCA Records and has seven tracks of score, eight period songs used in the film, and seven tracks of dialogue by the actors at a running time of nearly seventy-eight minutes. The music also features solos by vocalist Annie Lennox and Tim Morrison on the trumpet. The score was a critical success and garnered Horner an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.

1997

Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron.

Cameron wrote Titanic while listening to the work of Irish new-age musician Enya. He offered Enya the chance to compose for the film, but she declined. Cameron instead chose James Horner to compose the film’s score. The two had parted ways after a tumultuous working experience on Aliens, but Titanic cemented a successful collaboration that lasted until Horner’s death. For the vocals heard throughout the film, subsequently described by Earle Hitchner of The Wall Street Journal as “evocative”, Horner chose Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, commonly known as “Sissel”. Horner knew Sissel from her album Innerst i sjelen, and he particularly liked how she sang “Eg veit i himmerik ei borg” (“I Know in Heaven There Is a Castle”). He had tried twenty-five or thirty singers before he finally chose Sissel as the voice to create specific moods within the film.

Horner additionally wrote the song “My Heart Will Go On” in secret with Will Jennings because Cameron did not want any songs with singing in the film. Céline Dion agreed to record a demo with the persuasion of her husband René Angélil. Horner waited until Cameron was in an appropriate mood before presenting him with the song. After playing it several times, Cameron declared his approval, although worried that he would have been criticized for “going commercial at the end of the movie”. Cameron also wanted to appease anxious studio executives and “saw that a hit song from his movie could only be a positive factor in guaranteeing its completion”.

2001

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics.

Composer James Horner was a frequent collaborator with Ron Howard, the director of A Beautiful Mind. Horner desired to feature vocals reminiscent of being midway between a girl and woman, and wrote the score specifically for 15-year-old Welsh singer Charlotte Church. In an interview, she stated that it was “one of the most haunting and beautiful things I have ever performed.” To convey “the beauty of mathematics,” Horner decided to use the idea of a kaleidoscope, as its “patterns are always changing, and things move very quickly, but in moving so quickly, they create other patterns that move very slowly underneath.” He added that these changing patterns were conveyed with the piano and Church’s voice.

Writing for Empire magazine, Danny Graydon gave the soundtrack four out of five stars. He thought the score contained elements of Horner’s previous films Sneakers (1992) and Bicentennial Man (1999), but said “if you can forgive that, this is a clever, masterful and romantic score that captures a brilliant mind in conflict.”[6] In the tracks “Creating Government Dynamics” and “Cracking The Russian Codes”, Graydon opined that Church’s “poignant vocals mix well with the frenetic piano and strings to represent Nash’s brilliance,” and wished that her voice had been used more in the film.

Dan Goldwasser of Soundtrack.net also found similarities to the score in Bicentennial Man, but thought Horner’s work fit the film regardless, explaining “it effectively underscores the drama and romance, and even provides a few bits of tension for the action scene.” Goldwasser concluded that “while it all works well in the film, there is enough about this score that just seemed to [sic] ‘familiar’ to make it stand out. Contributing to National Public Radio, Andy Trudeau believed Church’s particular voice adds a “human element. It’s the sound that, I think, gives a sense of–the center of this character, if you will. I think it’s the soul. And it’s trying to be normal in a way, and underneath it it’s trying to be crazy.”

Horner’s score garnered nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the Academy Award for Best Original Score. It lost the Golden Globe to the film Moulin Rouge! and the Oscar to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

2009

Avatar (marketed as James Cameron’s Avatar) is a 2009 American epic science fiction film directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver.

Music and soundtrack

Composer James Horner scored the film, his third collaboration with Cameron after Aliens and Titanic. Horner recorded parts of the score with a small chorus singing in the alien language Na’vi in March 2008. He also worked with Wanda Bryant, an, to create a music culture for the alien race. The first scoring sessions were planned to take place in early 2009. During production, Horner promised Cameron that he would not work on any other project except for Avatar and reportedly worked on the score from four in the morning until ten at night throughout the process. He stated in an interview, “Avatar has been the most difficult film I have worked on and the biggest job I have undertaken.”Horner composed the score as two different scores merged into one. He first created a score that reflected the Na’vi way of sound and then combined it with a separate “traditional” score to drive the film. British singer Leona Lewis was chosen to sing the theme song for the film, called “I See You”. An accompanying music video, directed by Jake Nava, premiered December 15, 2009, on MySpace.

Horner’s Studio

Motion Picture Soundtracks:

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