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

James Horner

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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)

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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

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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

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

Stealing the Enterprise

 

 

Returning to Vulcan

 

 

End Titles

 

 

#9.  Cocoon

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

Cocoon Theme

 

 

#8.  Aliens

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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

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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

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTc03M4lPXU

 

#6.  Willow

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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

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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

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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

 

Jenny

 

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

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

Main Theme

 

Freedom

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxZcHUhQNXo

 

#2.  Apollo 13

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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

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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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