James Horner dies in plane crash


TrekMovie is saddened to report that Oscar and Grammy-winning film composer James Horner died in a plane crash Monday in California.  He was 61.

The plane, one of five registered to Mr. Horner, who was a pilot, went down around 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, causing a brushfire that spread out over an acre of land in Ventucopa, California.  At the time of the crash, it was reported that the one person on board had perished.   On Monday evening, Horner’s assistant Sylvia Patrycja confirmed that he had indeed died in the crash via Facebook:

A great tragedy has struck my family today, and I will not be around for a while. I would like some privacy and time to heal. We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart, and unbelievable talent. He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road. Love Sylvia.

The cause is currently under investigation.

A remarkable career

James Horner was born in Los Angeles on August 14, 1953.  He attended the Royal College of Music in London before returning to LA to complete his bachelor and post-graduate work.

Early in his career he toiled under legendary B-movie maven Roger Corman, scoring, among other films, the 1980 cult classic Battle Beyond the Stars.  A few years later, he was hired by director Nicholas Meyer to score Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and given the unenviable task of succeeding the legendary Jerry Goldsmith.  Horner’s seafaring-flavored score was nothing short of sensational,  and launched his film career in earnest.  He even makes a cameo in the film as an Enterprise crewmen (he’s in the foreground on the right).

James Horner Star Trek II

A personal favorite from the score is “Genesis Countdown”, which begins with a great sense of urgency and jeopardy, and ends very sadly and softly, as Kirk discovers what has happened to Spock:

A few years back, Horner reflected on putting together the music for the film:

Following the success of Wrath of Khan, Horner went on to score the sequel, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and a multitude of other films in the ensuing years, including Aliens, An American Tail, Field of Dreams, Braveheart, and Apollo 13.  Horner is perhaps best known for scoring Titanic, a blockbuster and cultural phenomenon which won him his first two Oscars (he was nominated a total of 10 times) and two Grammys.  His most recent Oscar nomination was in 2009 for James Cameron’s Avatar.  

More information can be found via The Hollywood Reporter.

Reaction from many in Hollywood, including Kirstie Alley, can be found here.

TrekMovie wishes James Horner’s family and friends our sincerest condolences.

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Awful news and such a tremendous loss. That music was such a integral part of my childhood. We’ll miss you, and thank you for the music!

Such a loss. Some truly great music for Trek and many others.

So so sad. RIP, my friend.

Was really looking forward to his Avatar sequel scores.

His career really has moved beyond star trek now. #neverforgetwhatmadeyou

I was on my way to work this morning when I heard the news. Too shocking. At first, I thought it was John Williams who had passed since he’s now in his 80s, but when the newsman mentioned prolific composer and the music they played wasn’t the fanfare Star Wars music, I realized who it was not.

The man was only 61! Too young…and the reports mentioned he was piloting his own plane. Word to artists, no matter what area of entertainment; actor, actress, director, producer, music composer, singer..don’t engage in high risk activities that can get yourself killed. We almost lost Harrison Ford the other week. You wanna fly, go commercial. :)

As much as I enjoyed his work on Treks II and III, I have to say I enjoyed his score to ‘Brainstorm’ even more. The piece entitled ‘Karen and Michael Reconcile’ is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Part piano solo, part choir and soaringly orchestral, it perfectly accentuates what you see on screen without overshadowing it, yet is good enough to stand by itself just to listen on its own.

Wrath of Khan, Search For Spock, Aliens, Rocketeer, Willow, Krull, Land Before Time & American Tail — soundtracks to live by. Terrible day!

So very sad. Wrath of Khan started my love affair with film scores. Time to listen to ‘Stealing the Enterprise’ and crank it up to 11!

Rest in Peace, James. Thoughts and prayers for his loved ones.

Loved his music, especially in Star Trek 2 and 3. And I didn’t know he had a cameo in Star Trek 2! R.I.P.

A huge loss for us all. You could hear the music and just tell it was a Horner score. I consider his Apollo 13 score to be one of his best works.

RIP James.

Man, oh, man. One death after the other. I send my condolences to the family and friends of James Horner. May his spirit boldly go where no one has gone before. May his legacy and his music live long and prosper. Rest in peace, James.

His music is definitely the pulse of our favorite Trek movie, an integral part.

Thank you, James Horner.

Condolenses to his family.

Wow. I am so sorry to hear about him. I loved his music. Did not know he appeared in Trek 2.
As Mccoy Said. He’s really not dead. As long as we remember him.

Mr. Horner, you touched all of us with your talents, and as a pilot, knew the transcendent moments of touching the sky as well. We can’t ever thank you enough for your gifts. All we can say in appreciation is, THANK YOU!

My thoughts are with the Horner family.

The Heavenly Score just got a big upgrade! :)

thank you for posting the interview about TWOK, I had never seen that before and it’s really beautiful the way he describes it.

I really loved James Horner’s music. My heart goes out to his family.

As a child in the 80s we couldn’t afford a VHS video player, so the only way I could relive the films I loved was by listening to the vinyl LP soundtracks on my mum’s old 1960s record player.

I spent hours gazing at the record sleeve, listening to Horner and his two Star Trek scores (I also adored Cocoon, Willow, Rocketeer et al but especially Krull).

Alongside listening to contemporaries like John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith I not only developed a great love for the movies (and using my imagination!) but also for collecting and appreciating rich orchestral soundtracks. I can still happily spend hours listening (and often humming along to) those scores.

It’s sad we’ve lost both Horner and Goldsmith. The term ‘Hollywood legend’ is often overused, but in this case it’s very apt.

RIP James Horner and thank you – from the little boy set next to the record player who grew up inspired, full of imagination and loving your music.

Star Trek II is one of the best film scores ever, in my humble opinion. We have truly lost a master craftsman in the field of music. He will be missed.

Forgot to mention, one of the first sci-fi movies I ever saw as a kid was Battle Beyond The Stars, which, I think I’m right in saying, was Horner’s first movie score (or at least one of the first).

I still remember coming out of the cinema with Horner’s soaring score swirling around in my head.

Battle Beyond …isn’t the world’s greatest movie, but it hooked me as a seven year old and I’m still in love with the genre to this day. The music plays a massive part of that for me.

I ll always picture the Star Trek II main theme linked with your name James. Rest in peace.

What a massive talent. This is terribly sad.

His score totally pushed TWoK into the stratosphere. Indeed all of his many scores stand as testament to the brilliant musician and composer that he was.

His place is secure alongside Goldsmith and Williams.
Deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Loved his WOK & Apollo 13 music.

RIP James Horner.

Sad. His music for both “The Wrath Of Khan” and “The Search For Spock” are outstanding. Nothing will top Jerry Goldsmith’s TMP score, so it was a good move on Horner’s part to create his own wonderful sound.

His “Avatar” and “Titanic” scores are a couple of my favorite non-Trek soundtracks.

Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Grace Lee Whitney, and now, James Horner.

A sad year indeed for the Trek franchise and its fans. Only six months in. :-(

The Star Trek Universe and Cinema over all has lost a great treasure.

I listen to the TWOK soundtrack and recite the dialogue right along with the music in the car, no images needed as his score is so perfectly timed and planned out that you dont even need the movie playing in front of you to know exactly what happening at that moment.

TWOK, SFS, Titanic and one of my personal favorites Apollo 13, i dont know if those movies would be nearly as good without his score driving every moment.

I will have TWOK and Apollo 13 with a little Titanic sprinkled in on repeat on my Ipod for a while

RIP James Horner

Oh, this is awful. His scores for Trek II and III were every bit the orchestral bombast that Roddenberry had in mind when he created the show, and his later work often had that lyrical sense of wonder so essential to great genre films. He took some criticism for re-using themes elements in different scores, but what prolific film composer has not? (Not Jerry Goldsmith, that’s for sure.)

A very great loss to anyone who loves the movies, and their potential to entertain and inspire.

As a huge movie fan over the years, Horner wrote the soundtracks to a lot of my favourites. We’ve lost one of the medium’s composing greats far too soon.

Such tragic news of his accidental death. :(

yes, we are saddened by the loss, and send our condolences…

…but as rational people (star trek fans), let’s not say “rest in peace”?

I prefer: “Godspeed!” …for “death” is not an end, but a transition… ;-)

Godspeed, Mr. Horner! we love you! =)

Very sad.
A huge talent. A huge loss. R.I.P. James Horner, thank you and Godspeed.

This has been a tragic year for Trek, so many deaths. Indeed very sad but we have the history and memories. I will have to listen to STWOK CD that my wife got me now.

One of my favorite Horner pieces isn’t even included on the soundtrack from the movie. It is the “Transposition and Docking” piece played in Apollo 13 when the command module turns around to dock with the lunar module after launch. I ripped it from the DVD, which had an option to just play the score straight through on the menu screen if you don’t press play.

I also love Amazing Grace from Star Trek II, gorgeous transition from bagpipes to orchestra.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching The Wrath of Kahn in the cinema!! My local modern cinema was having a one of showing.

IT WAS FANTASTIC! The ultimate way to see the film!

They used the lastest remaster so we had the best sound and picture possible!

One thing that always stood out, and even more so last night was the fantastic score. We were talking about it on the way home.

I mentioned how James Horner had a sneaky cameo during the “battle stations” sequence.

I was so happy I could finally get to see my favorite film on the big screen for the first time. It was wonderful.

RIP James Horner

Hell no! Damn! people, damn stop dying! be careful, i can´t take it :(

I was often listening “Stealing the Enterprise” loudly on the TV to get me motivated to survive the day,
I was always grateful for James Horner and his music

I bought the soundtrack record at the age of twelve, just being blown away with the experience of watching STAR TREK II (in an real big and wonderful cinema). The main theme pulled me right into the silverscreen. In a way, I never came back, becoming a really huge STAR TREK fan. The music became the soundtrack of my life.

Thank you, Mr. Horner. for enriching my life.

The Apollo 13 music did a magnificent job setting the mood for a story everyone knows. A talent that will be missed.

I really can’t say anymore what has already been said.

One of my favourites of his is the theme song to Titanic sung by Celine Dion.

I love the music to those Star Trek films. It is fortunate that Star Trek movies have always been blessed with having such talented composers score its music, among them, of course, being James Horner with his beautiful melodic scorings. The music is what helps make Star Trek so special.

RIP James Horner. May your music live on always.

RIP James Horner. One of the greatest composers and melodists in Hollywood. Great Star Trek scores and beyond.

What can I say about James Horner. The man was love! The music he wrote would go strait to my heart. From his score to Field of Dreams, when the director of the film Phil Alden Robinson was sitting in a screening of the film he heard a woman lean over to the man she was sitting next to and said the music alone deserved a Grammy. When the movie was first screened to Mr. Horner, at the end of the movie he ran out of the theater and into the lobby. The director ran after him worried and found him crying. Horner was so touched he was given the opportunity to score such an amazing movie that he had to run out of the theater crying.

For me his music touched me so. His music had an emotional sensitivity, in interviews he seamed to be a sensitive soul too. I adore his Cocoon score, and his music from Willow, and his amazing emotional score for The Land Before Time, and his score for Glory. His music touched the soul. His score for the Wrath of Khan is exhilarating, Krull was scored in the same vein, which is very much a companion piece to Khan. Thank you Mr. Horner for your music that came from your soul and touched mine and I’m sure millions of others too and ones to come!!

#35 Herbert

Well said! Godspeed it is! :)

This is so awful and tragic. James Horner scored so many of my favorite films. I played games, programmed games and wrote to his soundtracks constantly. His music inspired me. Gone way too soon.

I bought the Trek 2 record when I was 12 too. Incredibly beautiful score.

One of the greats. He will be missed. RIP.

I was a fan of James Horner’s work after seeing Battle Beyond the Stars and Humanoids from the Deep (both low-budget but very entertaining Roger Corman films) in 1980. I wore out those vinyl LPs with constant play!

When he was announced as the composer for Star Trek II, I was pleased, knowing that the lower budget would likely not allow for Jerry Goldsmith to return. However, a couple of friends were horrified and called Horner a “ripoff artist” and so on. Boy, did one viewing of ST II ever change their minds!

Farewell and RIP to my favorite modern composer, maestro James Horner.

So sad. An amazing composer with so many gems of his own creation. His scores for ST:TWOK and ALIENS are two of my all time faves. Celebrated, yet still underated.

What a sad, sad, awful tragedy!!! I was a huge fan of his work…particularly his 80’s work. I’ve been devastated since I learned of his death.

I just want to say — no one should fly alone in these small planes! We’ve lost so many people in these! John Denver, John F. Kennedy, Jr…and now James Horner. We came close to losing Harrison Ford in a small plane recently too!

I just think it’s a recipe for disaster.

May Mr. Horner rest in peace…and of course my heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.

This is horrible. :-(

He was a sweet, thoughtful, brilliant man. Glad to have had a few meetings with him. Regret i never got to work with him.

The music in heaven is about to get a whole lot better…

I’m depressed.

I dabble in music. I am a classically trained musician, but I abandoned that training to do something else with my life. Classical music is as much a part of the soundtrack of my life as any other genre.

A few moments ago, I was listening to Joni Mitchell’s various renditions of her wonderful “Both Sides, Now.” And I cried, and I didn’t know why, until I realized that there is just so much suffering in the world today, and that James Horner is, by various accounts, dead. A musician who composed the soundtrack to one of beautiful Treks, has died in a flight to infinity.

Of all the performing arts, music is perhaps the most ethereal, because the images it conveys creates transitory images not through our eyes, and not through our minds, but through sounds that reach deep into our emotional well being. And then the music disappears, and the world reappears, and we are again who we are.

Rest in peace, Mr. Horner. The sounds you hear are those of the music of the celestial spheres, and the resonances of your music played by angels guiding you and all of us to our rewards.

One of the greats. RIP.

I just clicked over to Trekmovie for a diversion from a dreadfully awful day only to encounter the most saddening, awful, dreadful news of the day.

I’m a professional classical musician and teacher. It always breaks my heart when we lose artists such as Horner. It makes it twice as gut-wrenching when someone is taken down before their time.

This is awful news.

At least he leaves behind a legacy that will stand the test of time.

We should all be so lucky.

I’ve always believed Horner’s scores were the life-blood of the Trek movie franchise. RIP sir.

#44 Hat Rick

Beautifully put, sir.

Star Trek has been blessed to have so many talented people bring it to life over the past 50 years. Horner’s music, along with Jerry Goldsmith’s, took the early movie series to a whole new realm and set a gold standard. The quality of the movies may vary greatly in their stories, but I think the music of Star Trek has always been high quality, and for that we owe James Horner a big thank you.


So saddened to hear this news…

Watching the clip on the scoring of Star Trek II again makes you realise how great the film is and how wonderfully rousing the music score is too.

This has been an awful year so far for losing Star Trek legends :-(

What a brilliant man.

Score composers are the unsung heroes of movies. They add so much to the story and overall experience while, as Horner explains in the above clip, striving to remain unnoticed.

The world will dearly miss James Horner, but at least he died doing something that he was passionate about. All things considered, that really ain’t too bad. And…

He’s not really dead…as long as we remember him.

And I’ve no doubt that we will. :-)