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James Horner: 11 memorable songs

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Jun 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-23 16:36:21-04

Not every movie fan knew James Horner’s name, but it’s almost certain they knew his work.

Horner — a two-time Academy Award-winning music composer — died Monday in a plane crash in California. When he heard the news of Horner’s death, actor Rob Lowe tweeted, “He will live on through the ages.”

When one takes a look at the late composer’s body of work, they can’t help but agree with Lowe’s statement.

Below are 11 of the most memorable compositions from Horner’s career, which dated back to 1979, when he composed his first feature film score.

“My Heart Will Go On” (1997)

It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, four Grammy Awards and became one of only 10 singles ever to sell more than 15 million copies. In short, “My Heart Will Go On” — sung by Celine Dion and co-written by Horner — was a phenomenon and arguably Horner’s greatest success.

“Hymn to the Sea” (1997)

Horner’s other Oscar win came from the complete original score of “Titanic.” The soundtrack recording “Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture” — all composed by Horner — went on to become the best-selling orchestral soundtrack ever. This composition is the album’s closing song.

“CBS News Main Open Theme” (2006)

When Katie Couric took over anchoring the CBS Evening News in 2006, the network commissioned a new theme song to be composed by Horner. When Couric left in 2011, Horner’s theme was replaced but it remains an iconic signal of the news.

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Main Title” (1982)

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” represented a major milestone in Horner’s career, as it was the first major hit film he scored. In 1984, he would be tapped to score the film’s sequel.

“48 Hrs. Theme” (1982)

The same year “Star Trek II” was released — before Horner was 30 — he composed the music for Eddie Murphy’s breakout film “48 Hrs.” The film would gross nearly $80 million in the United States, giving his work a lot of exposure. In 1990, he scored the sequel, “Another 48 Hrs.”

“Somewhere Out There” (1986)

In 1987, Horner was nominated for his first two Oscars, one of which was for this song, in the category of best original song. “Somewhere Out There,” from the animated movie “An American Tail,” was a moving ballad sung by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram.

“If We Hold on Together” (1988)

After the success of “Somewhere Out There,” Horner was invited to compose the music for 1988’s “The Land Before Time,” which included this original song. The movie was one of the year’s highest grossing and “If We Hold on Together” became a hit for singer Diana Ross.

“Braveheart: Main Title” (1995)

Celtic-inspired musical themes were one of Horner’s signatures, making him a natural fit to compose the score for 1995’s Oscar-winning “Braveheart.” Horner’s score would go on to be nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA.

“Theme from ‘Cocoon’” (1985)

When he heard about Horner’s death, director Ron Howard wrote on Twitter, “My heart aches for his loved ones.” The pair collaborated on seven movies, with “Cocoon” being the first.

“Apollo 13” (1995)

The score for “Apollo 13” was Horner’s third collaboration with Ron Howard. It earned the composer one of two Oscar nominations in 1995, along with his work on “Braveheart.”

“The Rocketeer: Main Title / Takeoff” (1991)

In 1991, Horner composed a piece of film music that would be more greatly remembered than the movie for which it was written. The main title from Disney’s “The Rocketeer” was described by reviewers from AllMusic.com as “brilliant,” and was reportedly so good it was later used in trailers for movies that didn’t have completed scores.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.