A Tribute to Jóhann Jóhannsson

After hearing about the sudden passing of  Jóhann Jóhannsson, I wanted to pay him tribute by compiling a (non-comprehensive) list of his works. The Icelandic composer was best known for his blend of electronic and classical genres. He received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and awards for many of his film scores, and his solo albums set the stage for experimentation in electronic music. For more about Jóhannsson and his life, read here.

Please enjoy some of my favorite Jóhannsson pieces.

The Theory of Everything Score

The Theory of Everything score was the first music I ever heard by Jóhannsson, and I immediately fell in love. The subtle blend of electronics mixed with classical ideas plays out beautifully; check out this blog post I wrote about it for more information.

And in the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees

This album was composed for the short film Varmints, and the delicate theme foreshadows the light and darkness in the story.

Arrival Score

I’ll admit, I don’t know much about this movie or its score. But the first time I listened to Hetapod B, I was intrigued. The movie is about a linguist recruited by the government to communicate with invading alien life, and Jóhannsson captures that idea perfectly in the score. He combines different elements of the human voice with electronics and lush harmonies to create layers of sound rising and falling; it’s almost as if he invented a new (alien?) language in the music.

Prisoners Score

I haven’t seen this movie either, but the score is so emotional and raw that I had to include it here. This particular piece contrasts heavily with the other film scores in this post, and that goes to show how talented Jóhannsson really was. He had the ability to mold and adapt his compositional style, always pushing boundaries and looking for new sounds, while connecting with audiences around the world and staying true to himself as a creator.


Believe it or not, this piece was inspired by Henry Ford’s failed rubber plant; what Ford dreamed would be a utopia ended with disaster, and Jóhannsson portrays all of that in this piece. It’s exquisite.

Flight From The City

From his most recent studio album Orphée, “Flight From The City” is a beautiful minimalist work that showcases Jóhannsson’s current style. I love how this simple (yet complex) piece builds and falls, creating a sense of flight and motion within a static world.

What are your favorite pieces by Jóhann Jóhannsson?

A Tribute to Jóhann Jóhannsson


18 Comments Add yours

  1. What a terrible loss. These are lovely selections. I also really enjoy Part 1/IBM 1401 Processing Unit’ and the soundtrack to Copenhagen Dreams. His soundtrack to The Mercy just came out and at first listen it sounds quite special as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll go listen to those ones! The hard thing about making this list was that he has so many wonderful pieces that I couldn’t include them all in one post.


      1. A challenge to be sure. Your list is an excellent one, though! A great introduction for anyone new to his music.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Willow Croft says:

    None as of yet, but thanks for introducing me this new composer…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like his music! Let me know if you ever discover a favorite piece of his. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Willow Croft says:

        I sure will! I love soundtracks/film scores!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Willow Croft says:

    Have you heard of a band called Ataraxia?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I’ll go check them out!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sad days indeed, I discovered him a good few, maybe 5 or 6 years ago whilst listening to some erased tapes stuff, he was referenced by olafur Arnolds and or nils frahm I think. Good contemporary composer and beautiful Icelandic tones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the loss is quite sad. Do you have a favorite piece by him?


      1. Well funnily enough I quite like the album he did using the IBM computer, its perfect music to read to!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll go listen to it!


  5. kenfales says:

    Awww. I saw his name in the news recently, and overlooked it. I did not know. Thank you for this tribute!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad I can share his beautiful music with everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading 😊


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