Blu-ray Review: Hollywood in Vienna: The World of James Horner

On June 22, 2015, the film community lost a truly beautiful mind. James Roy Horner was and will always be remembered as one of Hollywood’s most influential film composers. The impact he has had on movies is nothing short of phenomenal and with blockbusters such as Avatar, Titanic, Braveheart, and Apollo 13, the man certainly left his mark and his legacy is truly, truly strong. Tragically, however, at the age of 61, Horner left this world when he died in a sudden and unfortunate plane crash. A true artist, Horner’s memory lives on with his diverse film scores and with a very special tribute Blu-ray set. Released one year after Horner lost his life, Hollywood in Vienna: The World of James Horner is the perfect way to honor this man and with his tremendous body of work being performed in front of him in Vienna in 2013, audiences, fans, family, and friends will always look back on Horner’s life as one full of triumph, tenderness, and utter beauty, much like the way his music invoked in all of us.

Hollywood in Vienna was an utterly fantastic event which took place on October 3rd and 4th, 2013 in the city of classical music: Vienna, Austria. Composer David Newman conducted the ORF Vienna Radio-Symphony Orchestra as this talented group of musicians paid tribute to Horner by performing selections from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Avatar, Titanic, The Amazing Spider-Man, Willow, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Aliens, The Mask of Zorro, The Rocketeer. Singer Deborah Cox and pianist/singer Jeremy Schonfeld even dazzled the audience with renditions of “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail and “If We Hold On Together” from The Land Before Time. In addition, Geza Frank provided some Irish flavor with a bagpipes performance in honor of Braveheart and soprano Ildikó Raimondi nearly resurrected Titanic with her stunning vocals.

During the concert, Horner was seen wiping away tears, an absolutely beautiful image and profound evidence that his music is very personal and simply powerful. For over three decades, Horner has given us the gift of his art and at the Vienna concert, this brilliant composer’s gift was returned to him. At one point during the evening, Horner was awarded the Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award by the City of Vienna, a very special accolade and one, the esteemed composer accepted most graciously.

The second half of the Blu-ray set is a one-on-one symposium with Horner and Varèse Sarabande music composer Robert Townson. During this segment (which took place at the Max Reinhardt Seminar of the Vienna University of Music), Horner reflects on his impressive career and opens up a bit about his creative process. He also answers questions from aspiring composers in the audience. Also worth noting is that this is where Horner’s father, Harry Horner, studied stage design and would later win two Academy Awards (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).

Finishing up the Blu-ray is a bittersweet “In Memoriam Featurette”, where we get a final dose of Horner magic with more concert footage and various titles of Horner-scored films flashing on the screen. It is a strong conclusion to a strong Blu-ray edition. Die hard Horner fans will eat this Blu-ray set up and casual admirers will probably gain a new appreciation for the film composer’s work. All in all, this is one tribute that will stand the test of time.

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