Star Trek

Remembering Film Composer James Horner

Cinema has lost one of its best. James Horner, composer of more than a hundred film scores, died Monday, June 22, 2015 when the plane he was piloting crashed in southern California. Horner had been working steadily in Hollywood since the late 1970s, getting his big break in 1982 with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and later picking up two Oscars (Best Score and Best Song) for the 1997 James Cameron epic Titanic.

If John Williams was the composer of my childhood, then James Horner was that of my adolescence. I certainly knew of Horner early on, thanks to his work on Star Trek II and III (I was a big Trekkie), but it was Horner’s scores for Glory, Field of Dreams, Braveheart, and Titanic that most affected me. Horner was known for his ability to combine orchestra and choir in a way that evoked feelings of longing and melancholy, which my daydreaming, somewhat angsty young adult self-identified with on a deep level.

In interviews, James Horner has always struck me as a gentle, sensitive composer, aware of what was happening on the surface of the story—what you see on screen—but also very tuned in to what was happening beneath the surface, the tensions and motivations of the characters. Below are some clips of James Horner talking about his work.

Tune in Friday, June 26 at 9pm for Reel Music: Remembering James Horner.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Field of Dreams (1989)

Titanic (1997)

Karate Kid (2010)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)