Wednesday, October 2, 2013, Vienna.
Around 3pm, James Horner arrived at the Max Reinhardt Seminar with Varese Sarabande executive producer Robert Townson and Dr. Sandra Tomek, Managing Director and Artistic Producer of Hollywood In Vienna.
For an hour and twenty minutes, before an audience of 200, the composer answered questions from Robert Townson and the public. The conference featured five video clips from the following films: A Beautiful Mind (Creating "Governing Dynamics"), Braveheart (A Gift of a Thistle), Legends of the Fall (The Ludlows), Avatar (Jake's First Flight), and finally Titanic (Rose).
James Horner's emotion during each sequence, the precision of his answers and the proximity of the composer made this conference a special and unique moment.
We are pleased to provide you our impressions, accompanied by three video excerpts.
AN IMPRESSIONISTIC COLORIST
The first video covered the beginning of the conference, just after exhibiting a section from the movie, A Beautiful Mind, where mathematician John Nash labors for months, conceiving his Game theory.
James Horner spoke about the role of his music in this segment, and then explained his writing process in general. He defines himself as a colorist before a melodist. Then he shared with us that hearing his music during this conference and during the rehearsals for the concerts was a new and strange experience for him because he never takes the time to listen to his previous work.
The extract from Braveheart is the funeral William Wallaces father and brother and young Murron gives him a thistle. James Horner, very moved, explains:
"You can see, there, how important–there was a melody playing–but how important orchestration is. It's the instruments that break your heart.As far as melody for me, how I really approach all the film writing that I do… that’s what I meant."
The second video began just after that statement. The composer reminisced on "Sons of Scotland", the piece from Braveheart before the Battle of Sterling, recalling the difficulties in communicating with some directors. Finally, he explained how producers and studios have become more and more involved in the creative process, making composition more and more difficult for him.
The clip from Legends of the Fall corresponded to the track The Ludlows, a sequence early in the film where the family is together and happy.
Robert Townson referenced the reputation this great soundtrack has with its fans. The composer replied:
"I'm very flattered to know that. I must say they all sort of come and go and I don't–as a writer, I just go from one film to the next to the next to the next–and I don't really get a grasp of whether anybody likes them or whether they lose track of whether the films were really successful. I tried–and it’s mostly self-preservation, I think. When I was first starting in my career, everything I wrote was precious to me and then I met sound effects, and for the first time sound effects and music had to be balanced in film and I realized I have to let go emotionally a little bit, in what I was writing, and became part of the process of the movie. I’ve just become really good at letting go in sort of forgetting all the films I've done and even recent films, I just never listen to the music again. I just tend to do it, go through it, and then finish it, and leave it."