Sometimes the Universe
will shock you with its timing. Sometimes it will simply shock you.
On the morning of June 22, 2015, 61-year-old James Horner
climbed into the cockpit
of his Embraer EMB 312 Tucano turboprop airplane
. He soared into the sky, but one must presume something went terribly wrong, for this latter-day Icarus
came crashing down in southern California
's Los Padres National Forest
The earliest reports, some twelve hours later, simply related that a plane owned by Horner had crashed, its pilot being killed, and coincidentally, Horner himself wasn't answering his phone. It is as though the world resisted acknowledging that such a fire as this had been untimely snuffed, hoped beyond hope that somehow the body in the woods was somebody else. But the truth has now taken us in its icy grasp. James Horner -- amongst the finest composers and film scorers of our age -- is dead.
His life was a gift to us all. His scores roused, and his talent blossomed over time. It is true, the knock on him was that (early in his career, especially) he borrowed heavily from his antecedents and his own previous works, a flourish
here, a progression
of notes there. But in truth, even in his youth his artistry and ability to assemble fittingly inspirational music was at a level reached by only a few. Alongside the ubiquitous John Williams
, Horner possessed possibly the most instantly recognizable canon of movie music.
From this body of work, there will be no dearth of pieces worthy of playing at his memorial. A sampling of, arguably, Horner's finest compositional feats can't help but include:
From Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
-- Battle of the Mutara Nebula
, by turns claustrophobic and triumphant in a sense reminiscent of great naval tradition; and the sequel sequence from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
-- Stealing the Enterprise
, mixing into these an element of playfullness, and a fully realized grandeur.
-- Hymn to the Sea
-- with a Celtic heartbeat, unquestionably Horner's most famed work;
And lastly, my personal favorite:
From A Beautiful Mind
-- A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics
, hauntingly launched, and with a progression which makes the mind of the listener feel alive.
And for those who can never have enough from this canon, here is a thoughtfully assembled compilation of numerous score passages