(written from a Production point of view)
James Horner (14 August 1953 – 22 June 2015; age 61) was an Oscar-winning composer who wrote and conducted the music for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. His work on the former was his first score for a high-profile motion picture. While he is best known to the general public for his later work (the 1997 blockbuster movie Titanic in particular), his most signature work for the Star Trek community is arguably the rousing score he composed for the two starship battles in Wrath of Khan, which he subsequently recomposed with more bombastic elements for Kruge's Bird of Prey scenes in The Search for Spock and which was on occasion reused in later productions, signaling the arrival of Klingons.
Horner actually appears in the "Battle Stations" scene of Star Trek II in a brief, nonspeaking role as an enlisted trainee.
His work on The Wrath Of Khan earned Horner in retrospect an IFMCA Award nomination in the category Best New Release/Re-Release of an Existing Score on the occasion of the 2009 release of the remastered version of the movie, which he shared with Producer Lukas Kendall.
Career outside Star Trek
Born in Los Angeles, California, Horner studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London, England. He went on to receive a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Southern California, followed by a masters degree and a doctorate from UCLA. After scoring student films for the American Film Institute, Horner entered a career in film scoring.
Horner began his career composing film scores for several B-movie pictures produced by Roger Corman including Battle Beyond the Stars, as well as low-profile horror movies such as the 1981 movies The Hand with Bruce McGill and Tracey Walter, Wolfen with Roy Brocksmith, and Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing with Michael Berryman, Lawrence Montaigne, and Percy Rodriguez. His breakthrough work was his score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which opened whole new opportunities for the budding film composer. In the years to follow, Horner was assigned to work on films with a wider mass appeal. Since then, Horner collaborated primarily with acclaimed director Ron Howard (brother of Clint Howard).
In 1987, Horner earned his first of many Oscar nominations in the category Best Music, Original Score for his work on James Cameron's 1986 science fiction blockbuster Aliens featuring Jenette Goldstein. He also shared a nomination in the Original Song category that same year for co-writing "Somewhere Out There", the theme for the animated film An American Tail (which featured the voices of Christopher Plummer, Nehemiah Persoff, and a young Phillip Glasser). Horner went on to earn an Oscar nomination for his scoring of the film Field of Dreams.
In 1996, he was nominated twice in the same category (Best Music, Original Dramatic Score) for his work on Ron Howard's Apollo 13 and Mel Gibson's Braveheart. In 1998, he received two more Oscar nominations for scoring James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster hit Titanic and writing the music for the film's song "My Heart Will Go On" – winning both. He went on to earn Oscar nominations for his work on Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind and Vadim Perelman's House of Sand and Fog.
Among the many other film scores which Horner composed are 48 Hrs. starring Jonathan Banks and Denise Crosby, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Krull, Brainstorm, Cocoon, Willow, The Land Before Time, Glory, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Patriot Games, The Pelican Brief, Legends of the Fall, Clear and Present Danger, Ransom, Courage Under Fire, The Mask of Zorro, Deep Impact, The Perfect Storm, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Enemy at the Gates, The Missing, Troy, Flightplan, and The New World.
In 2009, Horner earned two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Original Score - Motion Picture and for Best Original Song - Motion Picture ("I See You"), both for his work on James Cameron's science fiction film Avatar, which starred Zoe Saldana.  In 2010 he received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Music for Avatar.