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Famed for his lush, sweeping scores for films including Braveheart, Apollo 13, and Titanic, the prolific composer James Horner was born in Los Angeles on August 14, 1953. Educated at London's Royal College of Music as well as local universities USC and UCLA, he landed his first motion picture assignments during the 1970s, scoring B-movies like The Lady in Red, Humanoids of the Deep, and Battle Beyond the Stars for producer Roger Corman's New World organization. By 1982, Horner had moved on to major studio fare including 48 Hrs. and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and four years later he notched his first Academy Award nominations for his score to the science fiction classic Aliens as well as for the song "Somewhere out There", from the animated picture An American Tail. In 1989, Horner earned a second Oscar nomination for his score to Field of Dreams, that same year winning a Grammy for his work on the Civil War drama Glory; in 1995 he was honored with two more Academy Award noms, for Braveheart and Apollo 13. Horner finally struck Oscar gold in 1997, taking home statuettes for his score to the blockbuster Titanic as well as the film's original song "My Heart Will Go On", a hit for Celine Dion. After writing scores for movies like Commando and New World, Film Music Masterworks: Original Soundtracks, which contained pieces from some of Horner's best-known work (Apollo 13, Braveheart, Willow, and of course, Titanic, among others), was issued in 2006. Horner's output in the 2000s was not nearly so prolific as in the 1990s, but he continued to produce sterling work, earning three further Oscar nominations for A Beautiful Mind (2001), House of Sand and Fog (2003), and Avatar (2009), the colossal success of which almost rivaled that of Titanic. He also wrote the theme to the CBS Evening News program, heard daily by millions of Americans. He continued to be an in-demand presence in film well into the 21st century, scoring big-budget box office smashes like The Amazing Spider-Man and Ender's Game. 2012 saw the release of a lavish, four-disc, 25th anniversary edition of his most popular work, Titanic -- the most successful orchestral score album in history.
James Roy Horner (born August 14, 1953) is an American composer, conductor, and orchestrator of orchestral and film music. He is noted for the integration of choral and electronic elements in many of his film scores, and for frequent use of Celtic musical elements. His score to the 1997 film Titanic remains the best selling orchestral film soundtrack of all time.
In addition, Horner has scored over 100 films, frequently collaborating with acclaimed directors such as James Cameron and Ron Howard. Other scores he worked on include those of Commando, Braveheart, Willow, Apollo 13, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Cocoon, Legends of the Fall, Aliens, Glory, The Mask of Zorro, Field of Dreams, Enemy at the Gates, Casper, Troy, Bicentennial Man, The Rocketeer, A Beautiful Mind, Mighty Joe Young, The Perfect Storm, Avatar, and more recently, The Amazing Spider-Man.
Horner has won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, three Satellite Awards, three Saturn Awards, and has been nominated for three British Academy Film Awards. His body of work is also notable for including the scores to the two highest-grossing films of all time: Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009), both of which were directed by James Cameron. Horner was greatly influenced by Dimitri Shostakovich.
Early life 
Horner was born in Los Angeles, the son of Austrian Jewish immigrants Joan (née Frankel) and Harry Horner, who was a production designer, set designer and occasional film director.
Horner started playing piano at the age of five. His early years were spent in London, where he attended the Royal College of Music. He subsequently attended Verde Valley High School in Sedona, Arizona. He received his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Southern California, and eventually earned a master's degree and started working on his doctorate at the University of California, Los Angeles where he studied with Paul Chihara, among others. After several scoring assignments with the American Film Institute in the 1970s, he finished his teaching of music theory at UCLA and turned to film scoring.
Film and television scoring 
Horner's first major film score was for the 1979 film The Lady in Red. He began his film scoring career by working for B film director and producer Roger Corman, with his first composer credit for Corman's big-budget Battle Beyond the Stars. His works steadily gained notice in Hollywood, which led him to take on larger projects. Horner made a breakthrough in 1982, when he had the chance to score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, establishing himself as a mainstream composer.
Horner continued composing music for high-profile releases during the 1980s, including 48 Hrs. (1982), Krull (1983), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Commando (1985), Cocoon (1985), Aliens (1986), *batteries not included (1987), Willow (1988), Glory and Field of Dreams (both 1989).
Aliens earned Horner his first Academy Award nomination. He has been nominated an additional nine times since. Horner's scores have been sampled in trailers for other films. The climax of the track Bishop's Countdown from his score for Aliens ranks fifth in the most commonly used soundtrack cues for film trailers. Also, an unused fragment from Aliens was featured in a scene in the 1988 film Die Hard. Several films whose scores were composed by Michael Kamen have had trailers featuring Horner's music; most notably, the music from Willow is substituted for the theme Kamen wrote for the 1993 remake of The Three Musketeers. Horner's "For the Love of a Princess" track from Braveheart was heard in the trailer for Robert Zemeckis's Cast Away.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Horner also wrote orchestral scores for children's films (particularly those produced by Amblin Entertainment), with credits for An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), and Casper, Jumanji, and Balto (all from 1995). He also composed the theme for the 1990-1997 Universal Pictures logo.
1995 saw Horner produce no fewer than six scores, including his commercially successful and critically acclaimed works for Braveheart and Apollo 13, both of which earned him Academy Award nominations. Horner's greatest financial and critical success would come with the score to the 1997 film Titanic. The album became the best-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack in history, selling over 27 million copies worldwide.
At the 70th Academy Awards, Horner won Oscars for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for "My Heart Will Go On" (which he co-wrote with Will Jennings). In addition, Horner and Jennings won three Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for the soundtrack and My Heart Will Go On. Titanic also marked the first time in ten years that Horner worked with director James Cameron (following the highly stressful scoring sessions for Aliens, Horner declared that he would never work with Cameron again and described the experience of scoring Aliens as "a nightmare").
Since Titanic, Horner has continued to score for major productions (including The Perfect Storm, A Beautiful Mind, Enemy At The Gates, The Mask of Zorro, The Legend of Zorro, House of Sand and Fog and Bicentennial Man).
Aside from scoring major productions, Horner periodically works on smaller projects such as Iris, Radio and Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius. He received his eighth and ninth Academy Award nominations for A Beautiful Mind (2001) and House of Sand and Fog (2003), but lost on both occasions to Howard Shore. He frequently collaborates with film director Ron Howard, a partnership that began with Cocoon in 1985. Coincidentally, Horner's end title music from Glory can be heard in the trailer for Howard's Backdraft.
Horner composed the 2006-2011 theme music for the CBS Evening News. The theme was introduced as part of the debut of Katie Couric as anchor on September 5, 2006. It has since been adopted by most other CBS News programs as well.
Horner recollaborated with James Cameron on the 2009 film Avatar, which was released in December 2009 and has since become the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing Titanic (also directed by Cameron and scored by Horner).
Horner spent over two years working on the score for Avatar, and did not take on any other projects during that time. Horner's work on Avatar earned him numerous award nominations, including his tenth Academy Award nomination as well as Golden Globe Award, British Academy Film Award, and Grammy Award nominations, all of which he lost to Michael Giacchino for Up.
Regarding the experience of scoring Avatar, Horner said, "Avatar has been the most difficult film I have worked on and the biggest job I have undertaken... I work from four in the morning to about ten at night and that’s been my way of life since March. That's the world I'm in now and it makes you feel estranged from everything. I'll have to recover from that and get my head out of Avatar."
Horner composed the score for the film The Karate Kid, replacing Atli Örvarsson. This film—the first that Horner worked on after Avatar—was released in 2010. In 2011, Horner scored The Song of Names, Cristiada (aka For Greater Glory) which was released a year later, Black Gold and in 2012, The Amazing Spider-Man, which starred Andrew Garfield and premiered on July 3.
Critical debate 
Horner, like many other film composers, has been criticised for transposing hooks, orchestral motifs, or larger passages from other scores of his own or of other composers. These contentions are points of fierce debates between his supporters and his detractors.