James Roy Horner
August 14, 1953
Composer of the Avatar score
Best Original Drama Score
Horner was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Austrian immigrants Joan (née Fraenkel) and Harry Horner, who was a production designer, set designer, and occasional film director.
Horner started playing piano at the age of five. His early years were spent in London, where he attended the Royal College of Music. He received his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Southern California, and eventually earned a master's and started working on his doctorate at the University of California, Los Angeles where he studied with Paul Chihara, among others. After several scoring assignments with the American Film Institute in the 1970s, he finished his teaching of music theory at UCLA and turned to film scoring. In his youth, Horner was acquainted with Carrie Goldsmith, daughter of the famous composer and peer Jerry Goldsmith.
Film and Television ScoringEdit
Just like his counterpart Jerry Fielding, Horner's scores blends the musical essences of Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. Also, like his other counterpart Les Baxter, he began his film scoring career by working for B movie director and producer Roger Corman, with his first composer credit for Corman's big-budget Battle Beyond the Stars. It was thought Horner contributed in scoring the 1982 horror film The Beast Within and some of the elements from his piece were used by composer Les Baxter, this was later proven false. His works steadily gained notice in Hollywood, which led him to take on larger projects. Horner made a breakthrough in 1982, when he had the chance to score for 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 48 Hrs. (1981), Krull (1983), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Commando (1985), Cocoon (1985), Aliens (1986, earning his first Academy Award nomination), Willow (1988), Glory and Field of Dreams (both 1989).
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. Also, an unused fragment from Aliens was featured in a scene from Die Hard. 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). 1995 saw Horner produce no fewer than six scores, including his commercially successful and critically-acclaimed works for Braveheart and Apollo 13, both of which earned him Academy Award nominations. Horner's greatest financial and critical success would come in 1997, with the incredibly successful score to the blockbuster motion picture, Titanic, which was greatly influenced by the music of Clannad. The album became the best-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack in history, selling over 27 million copies, worldwide. At the 70th Academy Awards, Horner won Oscars for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for "My Heart Will Go On" (which he co-wrote with Will Jennings), In addition, Horner and Jennings won three Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for the soundtrack and "My Heart Will Go On".
Since Titanic, Horner has continued to score for major productions (including The Perfect Storm, A Beautiful Mind, The Mask of Zorro, The Legend of Zorro, and Bicentennial Man). Aside from the major projects, Horner periodically tackles smaller projects as well (such as Iris, Radio, 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.
List of Avatar related awards and nominations. Underlined categories → won
82nd Academy Awards
- Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (nominated)
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn Awards
- Best Music (nominated)
BAFTA Film Awards
- Best Music (nominated)
- Best Original Score - Motion Picture (nominated)
- Best Original Song - Motion Picture, for the song "I See You" (nominated)
Shared with: Simon Franglen and Kuk Harrell
- Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture
- Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture (Deluxe Edition)
- Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack (Easy Piano Solo)
- Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack (Piano Solo)