UCLA's ethnomusicology department has released a video from March 1992 when James Horner spoke for an hour.
This historic document begins with a short introduction by Professor Steve Loza and an intervention of Scott Lipscomb.
James Horner starts talking at 00:19:16.
The composer explains the following topics:
His career, his work for Roger Corman, why he has chosen film music, how to get hired on a movie, how the Oscars operate, handling directors who are too close to their temp tracks, orchestrating on his own vs assigning an orchestrator, his work on Aliens, working within Hollywood where each idea has to be unique (the well known opinion about series of paintings for different clients), comparing film composing to Haydn being a court composer, Mozart writing for his employers and so on, ghost writing in Hollywood …
source: archive.org
Thank you to Karim (Karelm on the jwfan.com forum) for this find, and to Nick Martin, Tom Hudson, Olivier Soudé and Kim Østenfor Spildrejorde for their help.


  1. Wow. What a great piece of film to study. Thank you to everyone involved in sharing this wonderful interview with us. Added to this, because it was filmed back in 1992, it’s incredible to know how much James went on to be the great success he was. Can’t thank you all enough for letting us see this, it’s really made me think about all the beautiful music James has given us in his short life. Thank you all. Pamela.

  2. 451This was very inciteful and compelling.

    First time I’ve heard or read anything where Horner, himself, talks about his Hornerisms (one of the things he gets the most criticism over). The fact that he was taking a page from impressionist artists is truly fascinating. Although the connected legal ramifications, that he mentions himself, is equally interesting. Give the legalities of who owns his scores once completed, you’d think that he’d have gotten in trouble himself. There must be some minimum amount of score that one has to cross to be guilty.

    It’s great to know that he “re-used” or developed further ideas he originated in other scores … as an aesthetic or artistic choice and not out of laziness.

    Given the rest of the content of this video, it’s clear that James Horner was anything but lazy. Of course, many of his fans knew that already, but it’s great to hear him discuss it (if somewhat indirectly) himself.

  3. Hello!
    That is a very interesting video for me. I hear Horners music with pleasure since the late 80ths. So I´m still like many other people very sad about his suddenly dead last year.
    James Horner said in this video from 1992 things about music and Oscars, that I saw and see like him. In the nineties I didn´t understand, why always Disney movies won the oscar for Best Score. Beauty and the Beast was a very fine example from James Horner. Why won that score in the category Best Original Score instead of John Williams Hook, which wasn´t nominated? Why won “Round Midnight” instead of Morricones “The Mission”? James Horner had made his informations and experiances in Hollywood. And all what he told about that in this video gave me finally an plausibel and an informed answer to the osometimes strange winners of Best Original Score.
    I always saw and see it like him and many other movie music lovers. The Oscar should be for composers, who do great new original work of their own.
    Funny from the current standpoint are James Horners views about James Cameron. We all know, that James and Jim became friends with the movie Titanic.
    In the videos from the symposium in Vienna 2013 James Horner told about how he and Jim came together after Aliens in Titanic and after that even more in the first Avatar movie.
    Thanks for sharing this 1992-video from the univerity.
    It shows again for me, that James Horner was an artist, who liked to write good music, if the circumstances allowed him to that. That the money was least important for him he proved recently for the movie Southpaw.
    The video shows me too, how much he liked the work of John Williams or Ennio Morricone. That Horner liked The Mission score so much, explains me, how he came to his collaborater Tony Hinnigan.
    I like this webside very much. I will follow all, what will come.
    From germany
    André E.

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