Last week saw the passing of a great talent. The film composer James Horner died on the 22nd June when his plane crashed*. He’d been in the movie business for decades and I’d bet that everyone reading this has seen at least one film that he scored. I recently watched an interview he gave where he talked about his work on the film Aliens. It was not a happy experience for him. He came over to the UK for 6 weeks at the end of the film’s production to score it, but found himself sat around for 3 weeks because they were still filming scenes. He then had to wait for the edit, so he was left with only a few days to see the edited rushes and create the score. What with changes to the edit after he had actually created some pieces, he found himself falling out with the director James Cameron and they parted on fairly inharmonious terms. If you have ever seen the film you would never know how tortuous the process was. I absolutely love Aliens. It is the best of the films out of the ‘Aliens’ franchise. I am not a huge sci-fi fan but this really is a classic. I remember watching it as a teenager late at night, which is really the best time to watch it. If you are easily scared then I’d give it a miss.
One of my favourite James Horner pieces is For The Love of a Princess. This beautiful tune is from the film Braveheart. I learnt how to play it a few years ago and it works really well for solo piano. I have been playing it quite a bit recently. If I get round to it I will film it and post it up for you to enjoy. We attended a wedding a few years ago up in Glasgow and this was the music that the bride came down the aisle to. What with the apt title, and the Scottish association, I think its actually quite a good choice.
Fortunately Horner and Cameron eventually (12 years later) made up and agreed to work with each other again, and this time things went much better. With the film Titanic, Horner won an Oscar for the best score as well as a joint Oscar for best Original – Song for My Heart Will Go On. I’m less keen on this film, it never really did it for me.
At age 61, I’m sure he still had plenty of work in him. For now I guess we just have to re-acquaint ourselves with his huge body of work. It goes without saying that my thoughts are with his family at this time.
*As a complete aside: The type of plane that Horner owned was a Tucano made by Shorts, which is also used by the RAF as a training aircraft for their fast jet pilots. A few years ago they were selling off 22 of them. I phoned up to enquire about pricing but they wanted the buyer to take all the aircraft in one job lot. I see that a few years later they were being sold by an American company for approximately $1Million each. It turns out that it was one of these 22 that Horner bought. Radar tracking on the internet shows that his final flight was spent performing aerobatics. A statement by his family said that he died doing what he loved.