James Horner Controversy!!!!

What’s the controversy all about?

Horner has been accused of (perhaps unintentionally, perhaps as an homage) transposing hooks and orchestral motifs from other scores, both his and those of other composers.  The most notorious was his borrowing of the work “Powerhouse” by Raymond Scott for the opening credits of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which resulted in a lawsuit against Disney for not crediting the work’s original composer. The suit was ultimately settled to all parties’ satisfaction.  Portions of his score to Patriot Games bear considerable resemblance to Aram Khachaturian’s ballet Gayaneh, while parts of Star Trek III echo Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet; furthermore, Battle Beyond the Stars andTroy lift cues from the cantata from Prokofiev’s score for Alexander Nevsky:


In his score for Aliens he sampled the opening of Shostakovich’s Fourteenth Symphony. In his score for Willow he helpfully simplified the first theme of Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony. In the title theme of Glory he took the ‘Humming Chorus’ from Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible and grafted on Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations.’
—Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker


Horner has also been accused of self-plagiarism—reusing elements of his previous scores in another: For example, sections of Horner’s score for the aforementioned Battle Beyond the Stars reappear in near-identical form throughout his other scores of the 1980s. The signature themesfor the Klingons in Star Trek III and the Xenomorphs in the film Aliens are identical, and this particular sound is also used in the Widow sequences from Krull. Many of the melodies from A Beautiful Mind are similar to those from Bicentennial Man, which in turn are very similar to those from Sneakers. A key theme in Casper is also repeated at the end of The Spiderwick Chronicles. Also noted is a slight motif that has been refered to as “the danger theme” , an eerie progression of four notes mostly played by brass instruments, that Horner has relied to in several films, such as Willow and most notoriously (and repeatedly) in Enemy at the Gates and Troy

These contentions are points of fierce debates between proponents of Horner and his detractors. While they generally acknowledge that Horner has a tendency to reuse musical ideas, opinions on the issue vary greatly: Some believe it truly compromises the merits of Horner’s music, while others feel it is a minor problem that has been exaggerated, and a common practice generally inclusive of other composers.


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