James Horner was the heart of Titanic: James Cameron

  • AP, Los Angeles
  • Updated: Jun 24, 2015 16:51 IST

Authorities have revealed the details of the plane crash which killed James Horner, who composed music for dozens of films including Avatar, Titanic and A Beautiful Mind. His agents confirmed the death of Oscar-winning composer on Tuesday. He was 61.

Agents Michael Gorfaine and Sam Schwartz issued a statement saying Horner had died, although official confirmation could take several days while the Ventura County coroner works to identify the remains of the pilot, who was the only person on board.

People who fuelled the plane at an airport in Camarillo confirmed that he took off in the aircraft Monday morning, said Horner's attorney, Jay Cooper.

The S-312 Tucano MK1 turboprop crashed and burned in a remote area of the Los Padres National Forest, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The crash triggered a fire that charred more than an acre of brush, local fire authorities said.

Read: Titanic composer dies in plane crash

Horner's credits ran the gamut from big-budget blockbusters to foreign-language indies. He even composed the theme song for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

His work was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. He won two for 1997's best picture, Titanic, for the movie score and its enduring theme song, My Heart Will Go On, sung by Celine Dion. It became a best-seller.

"We will always remember his kindness and great talent that changed my career," Dion said in a statement on her website.

He has been nominated for 10 Academy Awards honouring his work on Alien, Apollo 13, Field of Dreams, Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, House of Sand and Fog and Avatar, and for his original song, Somewhere Out There, from An American Tail.

"The Avatar community has lost one of our great creative lights with the passing of James Horner," James Cameron and Jon Landau, who respectively directed and produced Avatar, said in a statement. "James' music was the air under the banshees' wings, the ancient song of the forest, and the heartbeat of Eywa. We have lost not only a great team-mate and collaborator, but a good friend. James' music affected the heart because his heart was so big."

Cameron added, "He was the heart of the film, absolutely. And you could say that literally, too, because he wrote the music for the

song, 'My Heart Will Go On,' which was so much of the pop-culture propulsion of the film. The score album is still to this day the highest grossing instrumental soundtrack album of all time," Cameron recalled.

The director said he had met Horner just six weeks ago for a live performance of "Titanic" in Royal Albert Hall in London.

My Heart Will Go On hit No. 1 around the world and become the best-selling single of 1998. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America included it among its 'Songs of the Century' rankings.

A pianist since age 5, Horner studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the University of Southern California, eventually earning graduate degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He got his start composing for movies by scoring shorts for the American Film Institute. His first commercial credits came from Roger Corman, who hired Horner to score several films in the 1980s, including Humanoids from the Deep and Battle Beyond the Stars.

Horner discussed his approach to making music while working on Avatar.

"To me, writing and composing are much more like painting, about colours and brushes," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. "I don't use a computer when I write and I don't use a piano. I'm at a desk writing and it's very broad strokes and notes as colors on a palette. I think very abstractly when I'm writing. Then as the project moves on it becomes more like sculpting."

Horner was known for including passages from his earlier compositions and from other composers in his work.

Horner's collaborators included George Lucas, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone. Horner worked many times with Cameron, with whom he often discussed the role of music in film.

"My job ... is to make sure at every turn of the film it's something the audience can feel with their heart," Horner said in 2009. "When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears - at all times I'm keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling."

Horner also wrote the score for the Southpaw, a boxing drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal that comes out July 24.

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Avatar composer James Horner dies in plane crash, Hollywood mourns
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