On James Horner...


As I type this, I have the main theme to The Rocketeer and the main theme to The Land Before Time switching from one and then to the other in my mind's ear. 

When you consider someone as one of your many heroes, especially those along the lines of your field of career choice... you have this idea, or wish rather, that they're going to live forever. Or at least that they live to a nice ripe old age.


So two weeks ago from today, when I learned that James Horner, one of the most well-known film composers of our time, had died in a tragic plane crash, I couldn't accept it.  Not at first... But as the fact sunk in, and I started remembering a handful of his beautiful film themes, I got a sense that a little part of me, a little part of many of us... had died along with him. 


A man who composed for unforgettable children's films such as The Land Before Time, and An American Tail... who ramped up our fears in Aliens... who broke our hearts with the main theme in Titanic... and who filled our ears with wonder as our eyes were equally filled with that same wonder, taking in the lush exotic environments in the world of Avatar.


A realization came to me... James Horner will never again compose music. He will never again compose the beautiful, sweeping cinematic score to soundtracks we know and love.  The innocence, the heartbreak, the adventure, the triumph, all heard and felt with the ears and the heart... We will never hear more of it again. And it greatly saddens me.


I admit, there are still many films Horner composed for that I have never seen yet. And I am quite a bit ashamed about that, because in this field of work in film scoring, you would think I'd have seen enough of his films to truly appreciate his work. But it is true that one doesn't have to see an extensive amount of films to know what a wonderful and truly talented composer he was. Although, it wouldn't hurt to see more of a good amount of films he'd scored for. 


When I was in fourth grade, my favorite animal became the wolf, and I learned of the animated children's movie titled Balto either from a theatrical trailer or TV trailers for the film. I never saw it after all these years, but I was sad to recently learn that James Horner was the man behind the music of this animated film, and I'd never seen it while he was still alive. Even though yes, I am 30 years old, I am planning on buying a copy of this animated film sometime to appreciate the score, and how it beautifully accents this tale based on a true story of a heroic sled dog who was part wolf. (EDIT 11/10/15: I now have this film on DVD, and I plan to write my thoughts on Horner's score for this film in a future blog post.)


And why I mention The Rocketeer in the beginning of this post... is because while I've seen this film only once in my life, back when I might've been some six or seven years old...  I never forgot the main theme, or at least the main section of the main theme. The notes in its melody has a wide range, and with all the artful pauses, it makes me think of a heroic fanfare. The very music itself makes me think of flight, excitement and adventure.  Horner's use of the brass section in this theme just sounded so amazing to me. 


James Horner left this world too early. We may never know what exactly caused his plane to crash. But what we do know is that as long as we admire his music, he will live on in some form or another.


Thank you for all your music, James Horner. Your beautiful mind may be somewhere out there. But we will never forget you, because your memory, and your music... will go on and on. God bless you.