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Jóhann Jóhannsson: 1969-2018

Jason K's picture

Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson passed away in February 2018. He was 48 years old. Jóhannsson was perhaps best known for his acclaimed film scores, which included Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015), The Theory of Everything (2014), and Arrival (2016). While these film projects are an essential component of Jóhannsson’s oeuvre, he also composed for theater and dance troupes, and his studio albums are among the most well-received compositions of the 21st century. The most innovative of his studio works may be the 2006 album IBM 1401, A User's Manual Manual, which utilized the hum and static of the actual IBM computer as an instrument. His ambitious 2008 album Fordlandia is a thematic work inspired by Henry Ford’s Brazilian rubber plantations of the early 20th century. (Historical information on Ford’s plantation scheme can be found in the book Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin.) Jóhann Jóhannsson’s final album, released in 2016, was the gorgeously classical Orphée, which I selected as Album of the Year on our 2016 Staff Picks: Music of the Year blog post. I would recommend the Orphée track “By the Roes, and By the Hinds of the Field” as both an ideal introduction to Jóhannsson's work, and as a fitting remembrance for his admirers.

Many recordings of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work can be downloaded for free using your Library card, from the Freegal and Hoopla databases.