Entertainment & Arts

James Horner: James Cameron pays tribute to composer

James Cameron, Leona Lewis and James Horner Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Cameron and James Horner (right) at the Avatar premier with Leona Lewis - who sang on the soundtrack

Director James Cameron has paid tribute to composer James Horner, calling his death in a plane crash on Monday "sad and shocking" and "such a waste".

Horner scored three of Cameron's biggest films - Titanic, Avatar and Aliens - and was signed up to compose the music for the next three Avatars.

"There's so much music he could have done. We were looking forward to our next gig," Cameron told People.

The pair both won their first Oscars together for Titanic in 1998.

In a joint statement Cameron and his Avatar producing partner Jon Landau said "the Avatar community has lost one of our great creative lights".

'Team-mate and friend'

"James's music was the air under the banshees' wings, the ancient song of the forest, and the heartbeat of Eywa," they said.

"We have lost not only a great team-mate and collaborator, but a good friend.

"James's music affected the heart because his heart was so big, it infused every cue with deep emotional resonance, whether soaring in majesty through the floating mountains, or crying for the loss of nature's innocence under bulldozer treads.

"The beauty and power of Avatar lay not just in the superb performances and the visual splendour, but in the music that made us cry and exult along with our characters. Irayo, James. Fly brother.''

Horner, who was a trained pilot, is reported to have been alone aboard a small private plane when it crashed in Santa Barbara, California, on Monday.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Horner won two Academy Awards for his work on Cameron's global blockbuster Titanic

He and Cameron met while working on sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars in 1980 and Cameron later hired him for Aliens, the sequel to Ridley Scott's commercial breakthrough. However after a "rocky" experience it was a decade until they worked together again on Titanic.

The film's soundtrack became one of the best-selling albums of all time and won Horner Oscars for best score and best original song - for Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On - while Cameron picked up best director and best picture.

The director remembered his reaction when Horner first played him the score.

"I literally teared up at each one, and it was just him at his piano, by himself, no technical people around or anything and I knew it was going to be a fantastic score at that point," Cameron said.

"I think he's up there with John Williams and Hans Zimmer, firmly implanted at the top of the firmament of the current great masters."

Cameron told the Hollywood Reporter "the orchestra loved him", adding: "It was his room and they were sure to make something great."

He said he last saw Horner at the Royal Albert Hall in April.

"The orchestra did the entire Titanic score live to the movie. James was there to take his bows. Jon Landau and I went to London just for the concert, and we had a kind of reunion.

"It was emotional and I'm glad that was my last personal memory of James."

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