James Roy Horner is a very famous film music composer with a lot of widely renowned titles under his belt. He is particularly noted for his frequent use of musical instruments with Celtic origin. Having produced scores for several hit Hollywood movies, his scoring in Titanic continues to be the best selling movie soundtrack ever. Having produced music for more than a hundred films, Horner has gotten himself several award nominations and wins over his long and successful career.
Born to Austrian immigrants in Los Angeles on August 14, 1953, his father Harry Horner, was a set designer, production designer and also directed films occasionally. Harry learnt to play piano at a tender age of five. Having moved to England when he was only a child, he quickly adopted the English accent. His teenage years were spent in Los Angeles but after that he went back to London in order to study at the Royal College of Music. Under the mentoring of György Ligeti, who himself was a very famous composer; Horner polished his musical skills and decided that he wanted to be a classical composer.
Knowing that becoming a successful musician was far more likely for him in the States, he got himself transferred into University of Southern California and completed undergrad degree. He then went to UCLA where he did his masters degree and after that he went on to do a doctorate in music theory and composition. Spectral Shimmer was his first ever orchestral work, which he only got to perform once to an audience of 400 people (according to him). But soon afterwards he got offered by the American Film Institute to compose music for documentaries and the fact that he could immediately have an orchestra perform his music as soon as he wrote it got him addicted to it and he made his decision to compose for films.
He joined New World Pictures and quickly improved his writing speed and efficiency. He was known for his ability to create a large amount of sound with minimal resources. He went on to compose for a few movies by the studio, one of them being Lady in Red. After that he started working with the big companies and got his first big project, the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The “spacey” effects in the movie’s music were talked about a lot and also led to the creation of several other films with special effects like Brainstorm and Krull.
In 1986, James Horner joined James Cameron to work on his film Aliens. It was a very bad experience for Horner as Cameron gave him very little time to compose and also asked for several rewrites, making Horner wow never to work again with Cameron. However, it was this same score that got Horner his first ever nomination for an Academy Award.
Horner has a huge and extremely diverse collection of scores that he has produced in his career as a composer and he is known for creating “against type” scores, completely different from what one might expect in a particular setting. His changed his stance about Cameron once he got to read the script of Titanic and that change of heart resulted in the creation of the one of film industry’s most profitable movie songs.
James Horner, a shy person, now lives with his family just outside of Los Angeles and often gets recognized and ends up giving autographs to his admirers and fans.