Film composer James Horner has died. The 61-year old two-time Oscar winner was killed in a small plane crash in California Monday.
Horner is best known for his score for “Titanic,” for which he won those Oscars (for original dramatic score and original song for “My Heart Will Go On,” performed by Celine Dion; he shared the latter award with lyricist Will Jennings.)
But he also wrote scores for “Field of Dreams,” “Braveheart,” “Avatar” “A Beautiful Mind” and “Apollo 13,” among others. He scored 10 Oscar nominations in all.
My personal favorite of his “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” (Indeed, Horner’s score for “Aliens” is essentially pieces of the “Star Trek II” and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” scores mashed together and/or re-purposed.)
The score for “Star Trek II” is a masterclass in using music to make what could be very dull sequences hum with excitement. The final battle between the Enterprise and Khan’s ship is essentially 15 or so minutes of two ships that cannot see each other floating around a nebula and firing almost randomly. With the wrong music, or no music, this could have been exceptionally boring to watch; Horner’s score helps make it one of the most memorable action scenes in all of sci-fi cinema.