James Horner, the Oscar-winning Hollywood composer who wrote the musical scores for such notable blockbusters as Titanic, died in a California plane crash on Monday morning. Horner was a trained pilot, and he is reported to have been alone aboard a small private plane when he crashed just north of Santa Barbara.
The celebrated composer wrote the musical scores for no less than three films by James Cameron, including Titanic. He also wrote the music for A Beautiful Mind, Braveheart, Troy, and Apollo 13. He won two Oscars for his work on Titanic, most famously for the theme song, the hugely successful “My Heart Will Go On,” which was sung by Celine Dion.
Upon learning of Horner’s death, Dion released a statement saying she was “deeply saddened” by the news. Her condolences have been echoed by many voices in Hollywood, including Russell Crowe and Kirstie Alley.
“He will always remain a great composer in our hearts,” Dion stated. “James played an important part in my career. We will miss him. We offer his family and friends our deepest sympathy.”
Horner was nominated for numerous Oscars throughout his career. He received nominations for his work on the films Avatar, House of Sand and Fog, and many others. He was also the composer for the two highest-grossing films of all time: Avatar, which raked in $2.8 billion, and Titanic, which grossed $2.2 billion. His profile on the Internet Movie Database is quite extensive, listing 95 soundtrack credits and 158 composer credits.
“My job is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart,” Horner said before his death. “When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears – at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling. That is my primary role.”
Horner’s small plane crash in the forest area north of Los Angeles damaged the earth and sparked a brush fire that had to be extinguished by emergency firefights. Horner’s personal assistant, Sylvia Patrycja wrote on his Facebook page on Monday: “He died doing what he loved.” He leaves behind a wife and two daughters.