James Horner: award-winning composer dies in plane crash

Titanic and Avatar composer James Horner remembered for his 'unbelievable talent'

James Horner
(Image credit: 2009 Getty Images)

Oscar-winning composer James Horner, who died in a plane crash near Santa Barbara yesterday, has been remembered for his "unbelievable talent". The 61-year-old is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Horner, a trained pilot, was flying a small two-seater aircraft alone when it crashed about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The crash sparked a brush fire, which local fire-fighters had to extinguish before they could access the site.

He won two Academy Awards for Titanic's score and its theme song, Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. The singer has said she is "deeply saddened" by the composer's "tragic death", according to the BBC.

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Horner was nominated for eight other Oscars for work he did with Avatar, House of Sand and Fog, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Field of Dreams, An American Tail and Aliens.

Born in 1953 to Oscar-winning production designer Harry Horner, James earned his bachelors degree, masters degree and PhD in musical theory and composition, scoring films as a side-project. His first big break came in 1982, when he scored Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He has since worked with many of the film industry's best known directors, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron.

Horner recently tried his luck at other forms of composing, including creating a new score for Katie Couric's stint at CBS Evening News in 2006, Variety reports. Last year his double concerto for violin and cello received its premier in Liverpool, and in March 2015 his concerto for four horns debuted in London.

Horner's assistant, Sylvia Patrycja, confirmed his death. "We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent," she wrote on her Facebook page. "He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support."

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