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Famous Like Me > Composer > H > James Horner

Profile of James Horner on Famous Like Me

Name: James Horner  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 14th August 1953
Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

James Horner (born August 14, 1953 in Los Angeles, California) is a Jewish-American composer of film scores. He is noted for effective integration of choral and electronic elements in many of his orchestral scores, and for frequent use of traditional Irish musical elements.

Early Life

Horner's early years were spent in London, where he attended the prestigious Royal College of Music. He received his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Southern California, and eventually earned his masters and doctorate at the University of California, Los Angeles. After several scoring assignments with the American Film Institute in the 1970s, he ended teaching of music theory at the UCLA and turned to film scoring.

Film Scoring

Horner began his career by working for prolific B-movie director and producer Roger Corman. His works steadily gained notice in Hollywood, which led him to take on larger projects. Horner achieved a breakthrough in 1982, when he was offered the chance to score Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, establishing himself as a mainstream composer. Horner continued composing music for high-profile releases in the 1980s, including Krull (1983), Cocoon (1985), Aliens (1986, earning his first Academy Award nomination), Willow (1988), Glory and Field of Dreams (both 1989).

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Horner also displayed a talent for writing orchestral scores for children's films, 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), The Pagemaster (1994), 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. However, Horner's greatest financial success would come in 1997 with an enormously popular score to Titanic, which became the best-selling film soundtrack in history at the time, with over 24 million copies sold worldwide. That year, 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, and The Legend of Zorro) but periodically chooses to tackle smaller projects as well (such as Iris, The Missing, and House of Sand and Fog). He frequently scores for the films of director Ron Howard, a partnership that began with 1985's Cocoon.

List of Film scores

  • The New World (2005)
  • The Legend of Zorro (2005)
  • Flightplan (2005)
  • The Chumscrubber (2005)
  • The Forgotten (2004)
  • Troy (2004)
  • House of Sand and Fog (2004; Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score)
  • The Missing (2003)
  • Windtalkers (2002)
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001; Academy Award, Grammy, and Golden Globe nominations)
  • Iris (2001)
  • Enemy at the Gates (2001)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • The Perfect Storm (2000)
  • Bicentennial Man (1999)
  • Mighty Joe Young (1998)
  • The Mask of Zorro (1998)
  • Deep Impact (1998)
  • Titanic (1997; 2 Academy Awards, 2 Golden Globe awards, 4 Grammy awards)
  • The Devil's Own (1997)
  • Courage Under Fire (1996)
  • Ransom (1996)
  • The Spitfire Grill (1996)
  • Jumanji (1995)
  • Jade (1995)
  • Braveheart (1995; Academy Award & Golden Globe nominations)
  • Balto (1995)
  • Apollo 13 (1995; Academy Award nomination)
  • Casper (1995)
  • Legends of the Fall (1994; Golden Globe nomination; also the corps song for Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps of Lexington, Kentucky)
  • The Pagemaster (1994)
  • Clear and Present Danger (1994)
  • The Pelican Brief (1993)
  • Swing Kids (1993)
  • Once Upon a Forest (1993)
  • The Man Without a Face (1993)
  • Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993)
  • Thunderheart (1992)
  • Sneakers (1992)
  • The Rocketeer (1991)
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
  • Another 48 Hours (1990)
  • I Love You to Death (1990)
  • Glory (1989; Grammy Award, Golden Globe nomination)
  • Field of Dreams (1989; Academy Award nomination, 2 Grammy nominations)
  • Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989)
  • Cocoon: The Return (1988)
  • The Land Before Time (1988)
  • Willow (1988)
  • Aliens (1986; Academy Award nomination)
  • An American Tail (1986; Academy Award nomination, 2 Grammy awards, Golden Globe nomination)
  • Captain EO (1986)
  • The Name of the Rose (1986)
  • Cocoon (1985)
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
  • Krull (1983)
  • Brainstorm (1983)
  • Gorky Park (1983)
  • 48 Hours (1982)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  • Wolfen (1981)
  • The Hand (1981)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)


Among fans of film scores, Horner is sometimes accused of self-plagiarism; that is, he tends to reuse elements of his score for one film in another. For example, some believe that sections of Horner's score for Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) are found in his other scores throughout the 1980s. In the end credits of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), the heirs of Nino Rota's estate successfully got his credit mentioned for co-composing Horner's score.

A quote attributed to Horner, possibly in response to the suggestion, is "I have a poor memory. After I write a score, I forget it. That's why I never write the same thing twice."

Some point out that most composers have recognizable personal styles and often borrow musical ideas from each other. They also argue that accusations of plagiarism are exaggerated, and that Horner is able to refine ideas and elements to suit each of his scores.


  • Horner can be seen briefly in a cameo appearance as a crewman in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • With over 24 million copies sold worldwide, Horner's score for Titanic is second only today to Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard Soundtrack, which has worldwide sales of over 37 million.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article James Horner