I was shocked and saddened to hear that the film composer James Horner died today when the small plane he was piloting crashed in California, north of Santa Monica. James was 61 and probably the most respected composer in Hollywood ever since his triumph with Titanic.
We spent a morning together in St John’s Wood, discussing the music for the film of my novel The Song of Names, which he was contracted to compose. He talked of his studies in London at the Royal College of Music and his fondness for Abbey Road studios, where we wound up. He was particularly interested in the rhythms and minor keys of chassidic music and pursued me for more information via email. He had one of those email addresses that are like a bank vault code – only close associates got to keep it, and he changed it from time to time. We kept in touch.
I liked him enormously. The film went into pre-production hell from which it is only just emerging, but James kept his name on the project because he was keen to see where it would take him creatively. He was dismissive of Hollywood, sating John Williams and he were the only composers who still submitted a full score for a film. The new directors, James said, knoew nothing about music. All they wanted was a quick hit for an emotional scene, and onto the next. Like porn, he said. James Cameron he exempted from criticism: a civilised man, he called his film partner.
I am so sorry to lose this brilliant, engaging and intensely human colleague and friend.