Two-time Oscar winning composer James Horner, has tragically died in a plane crash in California, aged 61.
Although a trained pilot, it is reported that the musician was alone aboard a small private plane which crashed in a remote area on Monday morning (22nd June), north of Santa Barbara. Horner’s assistant, Sylvia Patrycja, confirmed his death, writing on Facebook; “We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart, and unbelievable talent. He died doing what he loved”.
The acclaimed composer worked on several epic films throughout his career, including Titanic, Braveheart, and A Beautiful Mind. He won two Oscars for his work on Titanic, winning best original dramatic score and a second accolade that he shared with lyricist Will Jennings for the film’s original song, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – famously sung by Celine Dion. His score for Titanic sold an incredible 27 million copies worldwide.
The composer worked with many successful directors, and created numerous touching scores. His work on Avatar, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Braveheart and Aliens all earned him Oscar nominations. In a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Horner stated that his job was “to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart”.
Director Ron Howard conveyed his condolences on Twitter: “Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones”.
In 2011, Avatar director James Cameron paid tribute to Horner when the composer won an award at the eDIT Filmmakers Festival in Frankfurt:
“In Titanic, I challenged you to do an emotionally powerful score without violinists, and with the use of haunting vocals and bittersweet Celtic pipes, you reinvented the romantic score. Avatar was a very different challenge- to capture the heart and spirit of an alien culture without alienating the audience…you came up with a unique sound that created both the epic sweep of the film and also childlike sense of wonder of experiencing that fantastic world for the first time.”
Horner’s final film score can be heard in the upcoming Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Southpaw.
Watch the infamous Titanic song, complete with Horner’s moving instrumentals, below.