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James Horner, A Giant Among Movie Music Composers, Is Dead, Agents Say

Composer James Horner, seen here at a movie premiere in 2012, is believed to have died in a plane crash.
Gareth Cattermole
Getty Images
Composer James Horner, seen here at a movie premiere in 2012, is believed to have died in a plane crash.

Update: 11:30 p.m. ET

In a statement Tuesday night, the talent agency that represented Horner mourned "the tragic passing of our dear colleague."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with James' family at this difficult time, and also with the millions of people around the world who loved his music. A shining light has been extinguished, which can never be replaced," the statement from the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency read. "It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked with James since the inception of our agency. For more than three decades, his unique creative genius made an indelible imprint on each of our lives and on those of the entire Hollywood community."

Original Post:

The creator of iconic movie scores for films such as Titanic, Glory, Braveheart and Apollo 13 is feared dead, after a plane registered to composer James Horner crashed on Monday with one person aboard.

Horner, 61, had reportedly been flying his own single-engine plane Monday; it was found to have crashed in an area some 60 miles from Santa Barbara.

There's been no official confirmation that Horner has died. Investigating agencies have not identified the pilot, who did not survive.

On Monday, Horner's assistant, Sylvia Patrycja, posted a message saying:

"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."

Horner composed scores for more than 70 films, from two entries in the Star Trek franchise to the Russell Crowe film A Beautiful Mind and the well-loved Field of Dreams. A breakthrough came in 1986, when Horner received multiple awards for his work on the 1986 film An American Tail — including co-writing the song "Somewhere Out There." In the years that followed, accolades poured in.

Always prolific, Horner was particularly productive during the 1990s; he won six of his 12 Grammy Awards in the decade. And in 1996, he was nominated for Academy Awards for two films: Apollo 13 and Braveheart. A year later, he won two Oscars for his work on Titanic: one for the score and another for the Celine Dion song "My Heart Will Go On."

More recently, Horner had composed the scores of films such as Avatar — for frequent collaborator James Cameron — and The Amazing Spider-Man. His work is also in upcoming films, including the boxing film Southpaw.

Horner's father, the Czech-born Harry Horner, was a noted Hollywood production designer whose wide-ranging career included stints helping to stage plays and musicals on Broadway, according to the IMDB.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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