Solo horns in movie filmscores

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By James Boldin

Bruce Hembd’s great series on Horn-tastic TV Themes at Horn Matters got me thinking about all the amazing horn solos in movie soundtracks.  There are too many to list in this post, but I thought what might be fun is to consider only those horn solos that appear in the opening few minutes of a film, either in the opening titles or the first scene.  Here are two that came to mind.

Braveheart “Main Title,” composed by James Horner, London Symphony Orchestra, Timothy Jones?, solo horn [Solo begins at 1:55.]

Wyatt Earp “Main Theme,” composed by James Newton Howard, ?, solo horn

Can you think of any more film scores with solo horn (not sections) featured in the opening titles or main theme?  Further information on the soloists for Braveheart and Wyatt Earp would be great too.

If horn playing in film scores interests you, some great resources are Cindy Liu’s dissertation from the University of Cincinnati, The Examination of the Appearance and Use of French Horn in Film Scores from 1977 to 2004, and the website Moviebrass.

14 Responses to “Solo horns in movie filmscores”

  1. Jim Fox says:

    An auditory memory trace of the beautiful horn solo in the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s 5th had delightfully haunted me for 60+ years. I’m thinking it may have been part of a movie filmscore from the late 40s.

    I have ruled out the movie, “Maytime”, and Glenn Miller’s tune, “Moon Love”.

    Any idea where I might track down the movie?

    Jim Fox
    Adirondack Mts, NY

  2. James Boldin says:

    Hi Jim,

    I’m not really sure, although perhaps a book or other resource focusing on films from the 40s might be a good place to start.

    Good luck!


  3. Great! Been searching for this info , thanks for posting.

  4. Jeppe Ras says:

    Solo horn for ‘Braveheart’ – Hugh Seenan. Solo horn for ‘Wyatt Earp’ – Jim Thatcher:-)

  5. Jesse Durkan says:

    Sleepers (1996) opens with a completely solo horn played by Jim Thatcher, whose name even appears in the closing credits.

  6. Graham Green says:

    Everybody recognizes the horn solo in Princess Leia’s theme, once the flute gets out of the way :)

  7. Jaclynn says:

    My friends and I have a horn theme in our heads that we can’t quite place, though we’re pretty sure it’s at the beginning of a film, and most likely a “more recent” (last ten-twenty years) one. I think it might be a theme for a specific production agency or some such that appears before, but I’m not sure. From what we can tell, it’s something like: ‘B—F#’BF#-‘B—F#’BF#-E–‘B–F#–E–
    Any ideas?

  8. mr3D says:

    Cool starting solo in American history X and Prometheus…

  9. Richard ILOMAKI says:

    A quirky little film called To Gillian on her 37th birthday with the score by James Horner features an exquisite, long solo at the beginning and repratedly throughout. IMHO the most serenly euphonious score ever. Search out the OST on Sony Triumph.


  10. Joshoua says:

    The first Red Dawn opening theme

  11. Monica H. says:

    Star Trek First Contact

  12. Steven Craven says:

    James Thatcher is the horn soloist for the Wyatt Earp soundtrack. He IS the voice of the horn from 1975 to today in films – check out his credits list on IMDB…..

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