Jóhann Jóhannsson

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About Jóhann Jóhannsson

In both his solo albums and film composition work, Jóhann Jóhannsson paired avant-garde arrangements and organic instrumentation with majestic symphonic flourishes. Born in Reykjavík in 1969, Jóhannsson played trumpet and piano growing up, but he cut his teeth playing in various rock-oriented bands. He brought that background in popular music to full-lengths released under his own name—the 2004 instrumental album Virðulegu forsetar brims with solemn horns and keening soundscapes—and early film work, such as the equally haunting, brass-heavy The Miners’ Hymns. Jóhannsson’s film career took off as he worked closely and consistently with Denis Villeneuve on several movies, including the menacing, Oscar-nominated score for 2015’s Sicario, which boasted industrial-inspired, manipulated electronic sounds. His Golden Globe-winning score for James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything was also richly textured, as it weaved keyboards and electronic elements into elegiac piano and glacial strings. Jóhannsson died in 2018 of heart failure, right after finishing the score to Mandy, a stunning creative step forward that applied traditional classical motifs into an unsettling roar redolent of ambient heavy metal.

Reykjavik, Iceland
September 19, 1969
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