Remembering Jóhann Jóhannsson

The Icelandic-born composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly over the weekend in Berlin. He was 48.

Jóhannsson was the Oscar-nominated composer of such films as Arrival, Sicario, and The Theory of Everything. His scores frequently enter a dark, ambient sound world, augmenting the colors of the orchestra with the sounds of electronic music. This excerpt from Jóhannsson’s rejected score for the film, Blade Runner 2049, ventures into the world of microtonality- nonconventional tuning in which we hear intervals smaller than a half step.

In addition to film scores, Jóhann Jóhannsson released eight solo albums. Here is A Pile of Dust from his final album, Orphée (2016):

This is music which celebrates the sublime, soaring power of the gradually-rising scale. You may have heard echoes of the glacial crescendo and diminuendo of the Third Symphony of twentieth century Polish minimalist, Henryk Górecki (1933-2010). But it’s worth remembering that there is a much earlier precedent for scales which emerge from darkness- for example, the opening of the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Drone Mass was premiered in 2015 at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The contemporary oratorio is a setting of the Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians:


  • Jóhann Jóhannsson’s complete discography iTunes

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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