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Music from the Movies

The Music Of James Horner

A celebration of the life and music of recently passed composer, James Horner.

James Horner
Composer James Horner. Image courtesy of Scoring Sessions.

This week brought news of a horrific single engine plane crash that killed the sole occupant and pilot, James Horner. Even if you don’t know Horner’s name, you certainly know his music. He is the Oscar winning composer of James Cameron’s Titanic. He created the musical signature for the Klingons in The Wrath of Kahn, brought a jungle to life in Jumanji, and gave William Wallace a beautiful underscore in Braveheart ‰Û¥ and that’s just to name a few. Willow, The Rocketeer, Cocoon, An American Tail, and Avatar continue the long list of film scores which Horner contributed.

In addition to film music, Horner was a conservatory-trained muscian, which lead him to write concert music. This coming season, Houston Symphony audiences will be able to hear his Concerto for Four Horns and Orchestra. His concerto for duo and orchestra, Pas De Deux, was just released on CD; this was his first concert work in over thirty years.

But what seems to have driven Horner the most, was the idea of flight. In 2010, he composed a unique piece for a group of Mustang pilots, The Horsemen. His music was actually piped in to their airplane cockpits during a flying sequence at an aerobatic event, and the pilots flew in sync to it. He later went on to create a symphonic piece retitled “Flight,” which was premiered by the Pacific Symphony in 2014. As evidenced in the documentary below, the idea of flight was something that inspired Horner’s life and music. He died doing what he loved to do.

This week’s episode of Music from the Movies will feature a full hour of James Horner’s film and concert music. Tune in to Classical 91.7 this Saturday at 7pm or Sunday at 5pm.