Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson dies | News | DW | 11.02.2018
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Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson dies

Award-winning Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson has died at his apartment in Berlin. Johannsson won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score for "The Theory of Everything" about the physicist Stephen Hawking.

Award-winning Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson died on Saturday aged 48 at his apartment in Berlin, Tim Husom, his Los Angeles-based manager, said.

"I'm so very sad. Today, I lost my friend who was one of the most talented musicians and intelligent people I knew," Husom said in a statement.

Rosalie Voss, who runs the European office of Redbird Music, told The Associated Press that the cause of death was currently unknown. "We are waiting to find out more in the coming days," Voss said.

Johannsson won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score for "The Theory of Everything," about physicist Stephen Hawking.

'Communicating with people's emotions'

Johannsson—who blended classical form and electronic instrumentation—was nominated for "Arrival" and scored several films out in 2018, including "Mary Magdalene."

His music has been described as a blend of electronics and classical orchestration drawing on minimalism and drone music.

He was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 for the soundtrack to Dennis Villeneuve's FBI thriller "Sicario."

"I think my music is a way of communicating very directly with people and with people's emotions. I try to make music that doesn't need layers of complexity or obfuscation to speak to people," he told the online interview magazine The Talks in 2015.

Early influences    

Johannsson grew up in Reykjavik, where he said he listened to everything from John Philip Sousa marches to The Jesus and Mary Chain, but was transformed when he discovered Brian Eno.

Largely self-taught as a musician, Johannsson took inspiration from the French Oulipo school of writers such as Georges Perec, aiming to stir up fresh ideas by imposing constraining rules on their compositions.

Johannsson co-founded Kitchen Motors, the influential Icelandic artist collective that also helped launch experimental rockers Sigur Ros, and in 2002 released his first album, "Englaborn," set to a theatrical piece.

His most ambitious albums included "IBM 1401, A User's Manual," inspired by the early mass-manufactured computer.

Voss said Johannsson is survived by a daughter in Copenhagen and family in Iceland.

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(AFP, dpa, AP)

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