Tribute to James Horner

Almost as a premonitory sign, I was happily heading to work on Monday morning (to the Kamen residence) listening to the soundtrack to A Beautiful Mind, which I adore since I was a teenager.  A part of me was feeling a little bit like a traitor, because it is not a secret that I have a big devotion for Michael Kamen and a close relationship with his music. But let´s be honest, James Horner is (because that will never change) a reference in the world of film music. He has left a footprint in this genre and for that we will forever be grateful to him. I have no doubt that Michael would have been saddened by the tragic news on Monday, as I am sure that Horner was sad to hear the loss of our dear Kamen. When great people like them leave us, they deprive the world of their talent; we can no longer enjoy their new creative creations and their musical gift. This of course makes very sad all of us who have such a passion for music.

James Horner knew well how to get the best out of a motion picture, mix the drama of the image with the musical tension, and to fusion both so that the audience, as it was said of Maestro Karajan, could listen with their eyes and see with their ears. Not many people can achieve this, and hence why those who can, undoubtedly leave a deep footprint in the audience. Three of their soundtracks have especially marked me and have been a very important part of my developmental years as musician: Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind and Avatar. I could spend a long time discussing why these three, but I think that anyone who has heard them will soon understand what I am talking about.

Not only do I love his music, but I have always had the feeling of having a close connection to him, even though I never met him personally. Soon after beginning my undergraduate studies at the Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, I was able to learn much about Horner from one of the people who worked with him more closely. My teacher Jim Thatcher was his first horn player ever since Horner made Thatcher lead the section for the soundtrack Cocoon (I had not even been born in 1985), and to this day Thatcher was a person Horner trusted musically. I still remember my conversations with Thatcher about the recording sessions for Avatar… It must have been a very hard week for him indeed.

If this connection was not enough, upon arrival to London I realised that Horner had studied for few years at the Royal College of Music, where I was beginning my Master in French horn and conducting. This indirect connection hence continued, and became even stronger when Horner announced that he would premiere his Concerto for four horns with the London Philharmonic and two of my horn teachers: Jim Thatcher and John Ryan, who was also one of my teachers at the RCM.

Fate dictated that I could not go to that concert, but if I had known that it would be my last chance to see Horner in person, and most likely meet him, I would have never permitted not going. It is difficult to predict the future I guess! At least I have the satisfaction of having conducted two of his works last year with the Royal College of Music Students´Film Orchestra, Avatar and For the Love of a Princess. Thinking of the faces of all of the performers enjoying his music so much makes me smile. Because even if he is no longer with us, his music lives on. What a better legacy!

For his contribution to this wonderful art, THANK YOU!