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Jóhann Jóhannsson

This is an Icelandic name. The last name is a patronymic, not a family name; this person is referred to by the given name Jóhann.
Jóhann Jóhannsson
Jóhann Jóhannsson Analog.jpg
Jóhann Jóhannsson
Background information
Born (1969-09-19) 19 September 1969 (age 47)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Origin Iceland
Occupation(s) Composer and producer
Instruments Piano, Organ, Synthesizer
Years active 1987–present
Labels Deutsche Grammophon, 4AD, Touch
Associated acts Apparat Organ Quartet

Jóhann Jóhannsson (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈjouːhan ˈjouːhansɔn]; born 19 September 1969) is an Icelandic composer who has been releasing solo albums since 2002 as well as composing music for a wide array of media including theatre, dance, TV and films.

In 2016 Jóhannsson signed with Deutsche Grammophon through which he has released his latest solo album Orphée. Some of his works in film include the original scores for Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival as well as James Marsh's The Theory of Everything. Jóhannsson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for both The Theory of Everything and Sicario, and won a Golden Globe for Best Original Score for The Theory of Everything. Jóhannsson is currently composing the score for Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve, and mother!, directed by Darren Aronofsky.

Early life and career

Jóhannsson was born and raised in Reykjavík, where he later went on to study languages and literature at university. He started his musical career as a guitarist playing in indie rock bands. In 1999 Jóhannsson co-founded "Kitchen Motors"; a think tank, art organisation and music label that encouraged interdisciplinary collaborations between artists from punk, jazz, classical, metal and electronic music. His own sound arose out of these musical experimentations.

Solo works

Englabörn (Touch, 2002)

Jóhannsson's first solo album, Englabörn, was a suite based on the music written for the theatre piece of the same name. Jóhannsson approached the composition by recording string instruments and processing them through digital filters, which allowed him to deconstruct the recordings and reassemble them. The album combined holy minimalism, Erik Satie, Purcell and Moondog with the electronic music of labels such as Mille Plateaux and Mego. Andy Beta gave Englabörn a score of 8.9 on Pitchfork and described it as "exceptionally restrained, the piano moving like droplets off of slowly melting icicles, the violin breathing warmth from above. The hesitation of each breath and falling bead feels as though it were a Morton Feldman piece condensed to three minutes."[1]

Virðulegu Forsetar (Touch, 2004)

For Jóhannsson's second album, he employed an orchestra of 11 brass players, glockenspiel, piano and organ, with added bells and electronics, creating a sound that combined classical, ambient and experimental music .

IBM 1401, A User's Manual (4AD, 2006)

IBM 1401, A User's Manual is Jóhannsson's fourth studio album inspired by his father. Jóhannsson's father was an IBM engineer and one of Iceland's first computer programmers, who used early hardware to compose melodies during his downtime at work. Jóhannsson used sounds produced from the electromagnetic emissions of the IBM 1401 as part of the composition. IBM 1401, A User's Manual was released on October 30, 2006 under 4AD."Inspired by a recording of an IBM mainframe computer which Jóhann's father, Jóhann Gunnarsson, made on a reel-to-reel tape machine more than 30 years ago, the piece was originally written to be performed by a string quartet as the accompaniment to a dance piece by the choreographer Erna Ómarsdóttir. For the album version, Jóhannsson rewrote the entire score, and it was recorded by a sixty-piece string orchestra. He also added a new final section and incorporated electronics alongside those original tape recordings of the singing computer."[2]

Fordlândia (4AD, 2008)

Fordlândia is Jóhannsson's sixth full-length studio album. The album was released on November 3, 2008 via 4AD and was thematically influenced by the failure of Henry Ford's Brazilian rubber plant Fordlândia. On his official website, Jóhannsson explains the album's relation to the Henry Ford-owned location.

The Miners' Hymns (Fat Cat, 2011)

In 2010, Jóhannsson collaborated with filmmaker Bill Morrison on The Miners' Hymns (2011); a film and accompanying composition for a brass band, pipe organ and electronics. The film was noted for celebrating "social, cultural, and political aspects of the extinct industry, and the strong regional tradition of colliery brass bands".[3] The overall piece was itself a tribute to the miners strikes which occurred in the area during the 1980s. The piece premiered live in Durham Cathedral in July 2010 and was released on CD and DVD in May 2011. The album was described as "A gorgeous brass-based requiem for northeast England's former mining community" by the BBC.[4] Writing in UK Sunday newspaper The Observer, Fiona Maddocks gave the London debut performance of the score at the Barbican five stars, writing: "The strange counterpoint between an Icelandic minimalist, an American filmmaker and a bitter episode in recent British history has resulted in a work as unclassifiable as it is unforgettable."[5]

Film scores

Year Film Awards and nominations
2012 Mystery Winner – Golden Horse Awards for Best Original Film Score.[6]
Nominated – Asian Film Awards for Best Composer.
2013 Prisoners
2014 The Theory of Everything Winner – Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Film Music
Nominated – Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
2015 Sicario Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Film Music
2016 Lovesong
2016 Arrival Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.
2017 Blade Runner 2049
2017 mother!

Other awards

Rhode International Film Festival

Sapporo Short Film International Film Festival

Collaborations and other projects

In March 2015 Jóhannsson teamed up with ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble) and the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth to perform Drone Mass at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His list of collaborators include Tim Hecker, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Pan Sonic, CAN drummer Jaki Liebezeit, Marc Almond, Barry Adamson, and Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))). In 1999 Jóhann Jóhannsson founded the Apparat Organ Quartet, which has released two albums since 2002 with live performances in Europe, America and Japan.


Solo albums

Soundtrack albums


Feature films

Short films



Contemporary dance


  1. ^ "Jóhann Jóhannsson: Englabörn Album Review | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2016-10-19. 
  2. ^ [], Rebels In Control. "Jóhann Jóhannsson : IBM 1401, A User's Manual :". Retrieved 2016-10-19.  External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ DOMH. "FatCat Records". FatCat Records. Retrieved 2016-10-19. 
  4. ^ Grady, Spencer. "BBC - Music - Review of Jóhann Jóhannsson - The Miners' Hymns". Retrieved 2016-10-19. 
  5. ^ Maddocks, Fiona (2014-03-15). "The Miners' Hymns review – a rich seam of music and mine". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-10-19. 
  6. ^ []
  7. ^ "Jóhann Jóhannsson: Orphée Album Review | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
  8. ^ "McCanick (2013) – Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. 
  9. ^ "Prisoners (2013) – Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. 

External links