James Horner holds up two Oscars after winning for Best Original Song and Original Dramatic Score for Titanic at the 70th Annual Academy Awards (Photo: Reuters)
James Horner, the celebrated composer of the scores of several Hollywood smash-hit films including "Titanic" and "Avatar," died Monday in a plane crash at the age of 61, US media reported.
Hollywood trade magazine Variety reported the composer died when his private aircraft crashed in Santa Barbara, California.
"Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones," wrote director and colleague Ron Howard on Twitter.
Horner won two Oscars for his work on "Titanic" - one for its theme song "My Heart Will Go On", performed by Celine Dion, and another for the film's score.
He also won Oscar nominations for the music of numerous other box-office hits, including "Apollo 13," "Braveheart" and "Field of Dreams." His first nomination came in 1986 for the sci-fi horror film "Aliens."
Horner's most recent Oscar nomination was for another sci-fi epic, James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster "Avatar".
With expansive and emotive soundscapes, Horner's scores carried films to their climax and accompanied top actors as they delivered some of their most moving performances.
Tender kisses in "The Amazing Spider-Man," grand battles in "Troy" and moments of stirring drama in "A Beautiful Mind" were all set up by Horner's hand.
American film touchstones of the 1990s such as "Patriot Games", "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and "Jumanji" were also composed by Horner.
Top actors and directors in the film and television world paid tribute to Horner online.
"Incredibly saddened to hear about the loss of James Horner. I grew up loving his work. He leaves behind a spectacular musical legacy," television series creator Seth MacFarlane tweeted.
"There is nothing that shaped my movie-going experience more than the musical genius of James Horner. He will live on through the ages," tweeted actor Rob Lowe.
Actor Ron Perlman, who starred in "Enemy at the Gates", said he was "lucky to be able to say I was in a movie that was scored by James Horner."
"Flights of angels dear sweet beautiful mind...," he wrote on Twitter.
Other composers also spoke of Horner's lasting influence on their careers.
"James Horner, thank you for inspiring a young me to pursue a career in film music. Thank you for your music. Rest in peace." wrote Steve Jablonsky who composed music for the "Transformers" film series.
Horner also scored popular animated films "The Land Before Time" (1988) and "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West" (1991).
He was nominated for an Oscar for the song "Somewhere Out There" in "An American Tail."