Johannes factotum: Jóhann Jóhannsson

Hexel, V. (2019) Johannes factotum: Jóhann Jóhannsson. In: Double Lives: Film Composers in the Concert Hall. Routledge, Abingdon. ISBN 9780367028879


The genre-defying music of the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (1969–2018) first came to the attention of international film audiences in 2013 when he wrote the score for Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. Ensuing collaborations with the same director, and with James Marsh and Darren Aronofsky, were met with high popular and critical acclaim, and at the time of his death early in 2018 Jóhannsson was positioned to become one of the leading composers on the international film scene. When in recent years he toured, however, he preferred to represent himself not with his increasingly popular film music but with live multi-media performances featuring ‘autonomous’ music of the sort he had been producing and releasing on recordings since the early 1990s. As this chapter explains, throughout his all-too-short career Jóhannsson the film composer and Jóhannsson the composer-performer followed discrete, if cross-fertilising, paths.

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