James Horner, one of the best known and most respected composers in cinema history, has died, aged 61. He leaves behind him a musical legacy that helped to define an era.

Throughout an incredibly successful career, Horner scored in excess of 100 movies. First Oscar nominated for his work on ‘Aliens’ (1986) and again for ‘Field of Dreams’ (1989), amongst others, Horner’s work would eventually earn him two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, ten Oscar nominations, seven Golden Globe nominations and three Bafta nominations.

The list of films scored by James Horner is a long and impressive one. From ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ (1982) and its sequel, 1984’s ‘The Search For Spock’, to more recent hits such as ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (2012), ‘The Karate Kid’ (2010) and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ (2008), Horner scored more Hollywood blockbusters than some people have seen.

His rich, fluidic tones and warm, sweeping scores were occasionally offset by moments of experimentation, such as the African-style vocal harmonies used in his score for ‘Avatar’ (2009) or the steel drums used in cult Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle ‘Commando’ (1985), all with the effect of serving the plot and the director’s vision. He was also an extremely versatile mind, every bit as capable of scoring hard-hitting drama as flippant comedy or high-octane action. Perhaps this was why James Cameron chose Horner to score ‘Titanic’ (1997), a decision that proved to be very fruitful indeed. Both the score, and the song ‘My Heart Will Go On’ (performed by Celine Dion) won Oscars, while the song itself sold 15 million copies worldwide.

However, the list of hit films helped along to box office success by Horner’s talents doesn’t end there. 90’s crowd-pleasers ‘Braveheart’ (1995), ‘The Mask of Zorro’ (1998), ‘Deep Impact’ (1998), Apollo 13’ (1995), ‘Casper’ (1995) and ‘Jumanji’ (1995) all benefited from Horner’s orchestrations, as did later films like ‘Troy’ (2004), ‘The Legend of Zorro’ (2005) ‘The Forgotten’ (2004), ‘Iris’ (2001), ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (2001), ‘Bicentennial Man’ (1999), ‘Windtalkers’ (2002) ‘The Perfect Storm’ (2000) and ‘Enemy at the Gates’ (2001).

The list of films upon which Horner worked, or conducted for, is longer still. After you’ve read this piece, head on over to IMDB and be amazed.

James Horner was born in Los Angeles, California in 1953. His father, Harry Horner, was an Oscar winning art director and set designer who had won the coveted awards for his work on 1949’s ‘The Heiress’ and 1961’s ‘The Hustler’, respectively. James learned to play the piano at age 5 and went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London, before studying music at the University of Southern California and doing postgraduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles.

His early successes included the movies ‘48 Hours’ (1982), ‘Cocoon’ (1985), ‘*Batteries Not Included’ (1987) and ‘An American Tail’ (1986) – which earned him an early Oscar nomination.

From there, Horner became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand composers, scoring ‘Willow’ (1988), ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’ (1989), ‘The Rocketeer’ (1991), ‘Ransom’ (1996) and ‘Mighty Joe Young’ (1998), amongst (many) others.

On the 22nd June it was reported that one of Horner’s private planes had crashed into the Los Padres National Forest near Ventucopa, California. He was the sole occupant of the craft when it crashed. Our best wishes and sincerest condolences go out to Horner’s family, friends and fans. He shall be missed.