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Soundtrax Special Edition
FEBRUARY 10th, 2018

By Randall D. Larson

Photo courtesy of the Film Music Society.

The film music world is shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winning Icelandic composer, musician, and producer Jóhann Jóhannsson. He passed away in Berlin on Friday, February 9, 2018. The cause of death is unknown. He was 48. His death was confirmed by his manager.

Known for his compositions that often blended electronics with classical orchestrations, Jóhannsson had come to be one of the most in-demand film composers of his generation. In 2015, Jóhannsson won the Golden Globe and received Oscar, BAFTA and Grammy nominations for his critically acclaimed score for THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. In 2016, Jóhann was nominated for Oscar and BAFTA awards for his score for director Denis Villeneuve’s action thriller SICARIO. 2016 also saw the release of his mesmerizing score for the science fiction drama ARRIVAL, another collaboration with Villeneuve for which Jóhannsson received Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Grammy nominations. He most recently collaborated with director Darren Aronofsky on the horror film, MOTHER! 

In addition to his film scores, Jóhannsson had a career as a solo musician and composed music for theater, dance and television.

Jóhannsson is survived by his parents, sisters and daughter.

Tim Husom, Jóhannsson’s manager, provided the following statement: 
“I’m so very sad. Today, I lost my friend who was one of the most talented musicians and intelligent people I knew. We came a long way together.”

The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency provided the following statement: 
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our client and dear friend Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose great talent, humility and kindness enriched our lives immeasurably. His music has inspired many new generations of filmmakers and composers. He will be so greatly missed by his Gorfaine/Schwartz family as well as the entire film music community.”

Hollywood composer John Debney perhaps said it most eloquently in a Facebook post:
“A terrible and seismic event occurred today with the loss of one of the freshest and most innovative new voices in film music. This young man in his short career created some of the most interesting and innovative scores of the last few years. SICARIO and ARRIVAL just knocked me out and I am so deeply and utterly saddened at this colossal loss.”

Listen to "The Heptapod" from the ARRIVAL Soundtrack below:

Randall D. Larson,

February 10th, 2018


Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine.  A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music From the House of Hammer.  He has written liner notes for more than 120 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, FSM, Perseverance, Silva Screen, Harkit, Quartet, and BSX Records.  A largely re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique is being published: the first of this four-book series is now available.  See:

Randall can be contacted at