James Roy Horner (born August 14 1953) is an American composer of orchestral and film music. He is noted for the integration of choral and electronic elements in many of his film scores, and for frequent use of Celtic musical elements. Horner won two Academy Awards for his score and song compositions for the film Titanic in 1997.
In his youth Horner was acquainted with Carrie Goldsmith, daughter of famous composer Jerry Goldsmith.
Horner's scores also began to see a secondary life with their usage in film trailers for other movies. Excerpts from his score for Aliens rank second in the most commonly-used soundtrack cues for film trailers. Several films whose scores were composed by Michael Kamen have had Horner music for the trailers; most notably, the music from Willow is substituted for the theme Kamen wrote for the 1993 remake of The Three Musketeers.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Horner also displayed a talent for writing orchestral scores for children's films (particularly those produced by Amblin Entertainment), with credits for An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), and Casper and Balto (both 1995).
The year 1995 saw Horner produce no fewer than six scores, including his commercially successful and critically-acclaimed works for Braveheart and Apollo 13. Horner's greatest financial success would come in 1997 with an enormously popular score to Titanic, which was greatly influenced by the music of Clannad. The album became the best-selling instrumental soundtrack in history with over 24 million copies sold worldwide, and is the third best-selling soundtrack album ever, trailing only Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack (over 37 million) and the Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever (40 million). In 1997 he won Academy Awards for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for "My Heart Will Go On" (which he co-wrote with Will Jennings), in addition to three Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.
Since Titanic, Horner has continued to score for major productions (including The Perfect Storm, A Beautiful Mind, The Legend of Zorro and Radio). Aside from the major projects, Horner periodically tackles smaller projects as well (such as Iris and Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius). He frequently scores for the films of director Ron Howard, a partnership that began with Cocoon in 1985. Coincidentally, Horner's end title music from Glory can be heard in the trailer for Howard's Backdraft.
Horner composed the current theme music for the CBS Evening News. The theme was introduced as part of the debut of Katie Couric as anchor on September 5, 2006. It has since been adopted by most other CBS News programs, as well.
In his score for Aliens he sampled the opening of Shostakovich’s Fourteenth Symphony. In his score for Willow he helpfully simplified the first theme of Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony. In the title theme of Glory he took the 'Humming Chorus' from Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible and grafted on Elgar’s 'Enigma Variations.'|||Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker
Horner has also been accused of self-plagiarism—reusing elements of his previous scores in another: For example, sections of Horner's score for the aforementioned Battle Beyond the Stars reappear in near-identical form throughout his other scores of the 1980s. The signature themes for the Klingons in Star Trek III and the Xenomorphs in the film Aliens are identical. Many of the melodies from A Beautiful Mind are similar to those from Bicentennial Man, which in turn are very similar to those from Braveheart.
These contentions are points of fierce debates between proponents of Horner and his detractors. While they generally acknowledge that Horner has a tendency to reuse musical ideas, opinions on the issue vary greatly: Some believe it truly compromises the merits of Horner's music, while others feel it is a minor problem that has been exaggerated, and a common practice generally inclusive of other composers.
1978 (for the AFI)
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