Berlin, Germany (October 11, 2019) – Deutsche Grammophon is thrilled to announce the exclusive signing of Emmy-winning composer, cellist and singer Hildur Guðnadóttir, hailed by the New York Times for her work’s “gravity and depth”. Her score to HBO’s award-winning drama Chernobyl, released by DG in May, has received widespread public and critical acclaim. She is also enjoying success with her equally game-changing soundtrack to Todd Phillips’ Joker – winner of the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

(from left to right: Anusch Alimirzaie, A&R Manager New Repertoire; Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon; Hildur Guðnadóttir; Christian Badzura, Senior Director New Repertoire; Hans-Christian Lohs, Project Manager. Photo: © Stefan Höderath)

The Berlin-based Icelandic artist, whose soundtrack to Chernobyl scooped an Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition last month, first appeared on the Yellow Label in collaboration with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson and has also written for pianist Víkingur Ólafsson’s Bach Reworks album.

“There’s a real creative energy around Deutsche Grammophon,” says Hildur Guðnadóttir. “I love its passion for exploring new sounds and its understanding of the power of collaboration. So many of the borders that divided music into different genres, and kept composers and performers from crossing them, have been replaced by an openness to works which connect with the emotions that unite us all.”

“Hildur bursts with creativity and imagination,” says Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “She transcends boundaries, as composer, cellist and singer. Anyone who’s heard her Chernobyl soundtrack or early works will know how groundbreaking her music is, and we’re delighted to welcome her to the Yellow Label.”

Deutsche Grammophon’s Senior Director New Repertoire, Christian Badzura, pays tribute to the expressive beauty of Guðnadóttir’s work. “Hildur’s music is personal yet universal at the same time. She shapes haunting images and atmospheres in sound, touching something deep within us all.”

Hildur Guðnadóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1982. She began playing cello as a child, continued her studies at the Reykjavík Music Academy and progressed to study composition and new media at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and Universität der Künste Berlin. Mount A (2006), her solo debut album, was followed by three other critically acclaimed releases, Without Sinking (2009), Leyfðu Ljósinu (2012) and Saman (2014).

Her list of works includes commissions for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the National Theatre of Iceland, Tate Modern, the British Film Institute, the Royal Swedish Opera and Gothenburg National Theatre. She has also performed and recorded with, among others, Skúli Sverrisson, Jóhann Jóhannsson, múm, Sunn O))), Pan Sonic, Hauschka, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, The Knife, Fever Ray and Throbbing Gristle.

Guðnadóttir was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize as Composer of the Year in 2014 and for a Discovery of the Year Award at the 2018 World Soundtrack Academy. Her fast-growing haul of prestigious prizes and awards includes the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Score (shared with Jóhann Jóhannsson for Mary Magdalene) and Best Score at the 2018 Beijing International Film Festival for Journey’s End. She is nominated for Best Television Composer of the Year at the 2019 World Soundtrack Awards which take place in Belgium later this month.


September 18, 2019: Composer, cellist and singer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Chernobyl soundtrack has been awarded an EMMY for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special. Also nominated in her category for a Creative Arts EMMY were David Arnold (Good Omens), T Bone Burnett (True Detective), Kris Bowers (When They See Us) and Edward Shearmur (Escape at Dannemora). The ceremony took place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, where the miniseries picked up a total of seven awards. Chernobyl has further nominations for next Sunday’s Primetime EMMY’s including Outstanding Limited Series.

Commenting on her success, Guðnadóttir said, “It’s been wonderful to follow the reactions to HBO’s Chernobyl miniseries over this summer. I recorded the building blocks for the soundtrack with field-recordist Chris Watson and score-producer Sam Slater at the Ignalina Power Plant in Lithuania, a decommissioned nuclear reactor in which the show was filmed. The vastness of the site directly influenced the score: ultimately no classical instruments were used, and instead the recordings were turned into music, where the only traditional instrumental element was my voice, which was subsequently processed using Impulse Responses recorded on the site. The show itself portrays the disaster with respect and realism, and I was adamant the score reflects this. I wanted to show the viewer how it would feel to be there, and to tell this story of fear, loss and, ultimately, human error.”

Guðnadóttir’s tense, eerie soundtrack plays an integral role in Chernobyl’s overwhelming, claustrophobic drama. The Berlin-based musician spent an entire day on the site in protective clothing prior to shooting, accompanied by Slater and Watson, a founding member of influential industrial music pioneers Cabaret Voltaire who’s also known for his work the past two decades on David Attenborough’s famed nature documentaries.

Deutsche Grammophon’s Senior Director New Repertoire, Christian Badzura, pays tribute to Guðnadóttir’s profound creative impact on the Chernobyl series. “Hildur has created such a hauntingly beautiful score, mostly based on field recordings,” he said. “The innovative and coherent musical language is so deeply interconnected with the moving picture, so that visuals and music become one aesthetic experience.” 

Guðnadóttir has composed a number of soundtracks over the past decade, most recently Todd Phillips’ Joker, which is due for worldwide release in October. She also wrote the score for last year’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the follow up to Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 masterpiece, Sicario, which was in turn scored by her friend and regular collaborator, the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. In addition, Guðnadóttir has worked with a further cast of renowned artists, including Nico Muhly, Ben Frost, The Knife, Sunn O))) and Hauschka.

Frank Briegmann, CEO & President Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon, congratulates Guðnadóttir on her EMMY win and praises her part in building Chernobyl’s realist drama. “Congratulations to Hildur for winning an EMMY. Her score for Chernobyl is of breathtaking intensity,” he noted. “With this work she has broken through the boundaries of her ‘home genre’, classical music, to enter new musical worlds. It’s an honour and a pleasure for me and the entire Deutsche Grammophon team to accompany Hildur in doing so.”