Hildur Ingveldardóttir Guðnadóttir

Feminale of Music

Photo of the composer Hildur Guðnadóttir

Hildur Guðnadóttir evades labelling and ignores traditional genus boundaries. For years she has been experimenting with computer-aided processing of cello sounds and new playing techniques. However, when critics are tempted to categorize her music »[...] somewhere between Arvo Pärt, Brian Eno and drone metal.«

Hildur Guðnadóttir was born on September 4, 1982 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Today she lives and works in Berlin. Hildur Guðnadóttir began playing the cello at the age of five. Later she studied cello, electroacoustics and composition and new media at the Icelandic Academy of Arts and the Berlin University of the Arts. After her stay in Berlin, she first went back to Iceland to engage in the younger art and music scene there. Here she is active in various projects, for example she plays in the bands Múm and Angel. Furthermore, together with Jóhann Jóhannsson »Kitchen Motors« she runs a fusion of label, think tank and artist collective. In 2007 she releases her debut album »Mount A« under the name »Lost in Hildurness« on the Icelandic label 12tónar, followed by her second album »Without Sinking« in 2009 and »Leyfðu Ljósinu« (2012) and »Saman« (2014) on the British label Touch. She is now under exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.

Since 2011 she has also been working as a composer for various film and television productions. Particularly noteworthy are the soundtracks for Sicario 2 (original title Sicario: Day of the Soldado) and Joker as well as for the HBO series Chernobyl. For Chernobyl she received the 2019 Emmy and Grammy in the category »Best Composed Soundtrack for Visual Media«, making her the only single woman to date to receive an award in this category. For the soundtrack of Chernobyl, Guðnadóttir went to a Lithuanian nuclear power plant to record sounds and noises, which she later processed. She herself calls this »fact-based music«.

The music for Joker was awarded an Oscar at the Academy Awards 2020 for »Best Film Music«, which hasn't been awarded to a woman in 20 years. At the Golden Globes she was honored in the category »Best Original Music (Film)«. This makes her the first woman to win a Golden Globe since the category was introduced in 1947.

Music Pieces

Composition for halldorophone#5, published, conceived and edited by Halldor Ulfarsson: Composed and performed live by Hildur Guðnadóttir at the FAIR Residence in Copenhagen 2009, curated by Stine Hebert, filmed at Fabrikken for Art and Design and Frederiksborg; Sophia Olson (cinematography), Sylvester Holm (live sound recording)

Unveiled, released by and composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir from the album »Without Sinking«. Artists: Hildur Guðnadóttir, Skuli Sverrisson, Guðni Franzson, 2009 Touch, under exclusive license from Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Bridge Of Death (from the soundtrack of the TV series »Chernobyl«), released by and composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir, 2019 HBO, under exclusive license from Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Call Me Joker, released by WaterTower Music from the original soundtrack of »Joker«


The »Chernobyl« composer created a whole haunting composition of real power plant sounds published by Epicleff Media: Hildur Guðnadóttir explains her unique process of creating the entire score of the HBO mini-series from sounds she and her team recorded in a real power plant in Lithuania.


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Mon, 06.04.2020 – Fri, 01.05.2020

The ZKM honors female composers with a four-week digital festival