Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here to remember a film composer I loved:

James Horner


He passed away in a plane crash yesterday at age 61, leaving behind an incredible legacy of music. A composer of symphonic film scores, James Horner had a signature sound that set him apart from other contemporary film composers. A composer who liked to incorporate choral work and synthesizer instruments with more traditional orchestral work and strong Celtic influences. His music had wonderful string sweeps and pulses, bold horn sections and wonderful percussion effects.


However, all my praising can’t really do justice to his incredible work. I’ll let his work speak for itself as I list my top 12 favorite film scores by James Horner. I’ll list the films and give some selections from each to illustrate why they’re so great. These are not in order, they’re all wonderful.


#12. Battle Beyond the Stars(1980)



Main Title

This one’s a purely nostalgic pick, as it’s the first James Horner soundtrack I heard, and I loved it. One of his first soundtracks, it’s weathered well, and is still awesome.


#11. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan



And, while I love the Star Trek scores by Jerry Goldsmith, I really love what James Horner did with his two films in the Trek verse.

Main Title



Surprise Attack


Battle in the Mutara Nebula


Genesis Countdown



#10. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock



And, I had to include his work on the sequel too, it’s just so great.

Stealing the Enterprise



Returning to Vulcan



End Titles






Another outstanding work by Horner, you really feel the wonder and emotion in the music.

Cocoon Theme



#8. Aliens



Talk about pulse pounding music? DAMN He really builds the tension and explodes with thrills and action in the music.

Ripley’s Rescue


Bishop’s Countdown



#7. An American Tail



One of my favorite Don Bluth films, this score just tugs at my heartstrings no matter how many times I hear it. The song, “Somewhere out there” was nominated for an Academy Award(lost to “Take my Breath away-Berlin,” but, I felt it deserved it more.

Main Title


Give me your tired, your poor


Somewhere out there


#6. Willow



Using the John Williams trick of adapting existing classical music for a film score, James utilized some tracks by Janacek, Mozart, Bartok, Grieg and Shumann to pep up this score and the results are amazing.

Willow’s Journey Begins

Elora Danan

Escape from the Tavern


#5. Field of Dreams



I love this soundtrack as it truly matches the scenes it scores. The emotional impact of dreams, regrets and redemption are at the heart of this outstanding film score.

The Cornfield


The Library


Old Ball Players


The Place where Dreams come True



#4. The Rocketeer



You can hear a lot of ideas he used in other films throughout these two tracks, but the way he altered and enhanced them made for a new sound, a new feeling and it’s gorgeous.

Main Title and Takeoff




You can hear a lot of ideas he used in other films throughout these two tracks, but the way he altered and enhanced them make for a new sound, a new feeling and it’s gorgeous.


#3. Braveheart



Without this soundtrack, 50% of the soul would’ve been missing from this accounting of the experiences of William Wallace.

Main Theme




#2. Apollo 13



How he managed to capture the raw emotional pride, terror, joy and utter adrenaline of this true story is astonishing. I cry every time that Saturn V lifts off the launchpad, and the music is a large reason why.

All Systems Go: The Launch


Re-entry and Splashdown



#1. Titanic



His most award winning soundtrack is magnificent, and I’m including “My Heart Will Go On” here-even if some of you are sick to death of this song. This was the song that won James Horner an Academy Award, and I love it too.

Never an absolution


Take her to sea, Mr. Murdoch


Unable to stay, unwilling to leave



My Heart Will Go On


Here’s to you, James Horner. My heart will go on loving the musical legacy you left behind. Thank you for some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard, my friend. Rest In Peace.

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