Hildur Guðnadóttir is an award-winning Icelandic cellist, composer, and producer known for her experimental and often cinematic solo albums, collaborations with the late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and with a diverse group of artists like Animal Collective, Throbbing Gristle, Múm, and Sunn 0))), as well as writing scores for films like Mary Magdalene and Sicario: Day of the Soldado.
Based in Germany, she has recorded for a variety of labels including Morr, Oral, and Fat Cat, though her acclaimed solo albums like 2006's Mount A and 2014's Saman have all appeared via England's Touch Music. Later in her career, Guðnadóttir began focusing more of her energy on film and television scores including the 2018 Netflix documentary Strong Island and the 2019 superhero film Joker.
Born in 1982 in Reykjavík, Guðnadóttir began playing the cello at a young age, working her way through the Reykjavík Music Academy, studying composition and new media at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, and finally relocating to Berlin to study at Universitat der Kunste. Along with her classical training, she also retained close ties with Iceland's band music scene, particularly with the experimental pop collective Múm, with whom she has collaborated frequently throughout her career. A 2005 electro-acoustic project with German musician, Dirk Dresselhaus (Schneider TM), called Mr. Schmuck's Farm, yielded the cerebral Good Sound LP. The following year saw a number of new projects, including the release of Mount A, Guðnadóttir's solo debut under the Lost in Hildurness name, as well as collaborations with Angel (a duo consisting of Dresselhaus and Pan Sonic member Ilpo Väisänen), Ben Frost, Nico Muhly, and fellow Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Over the next few years, she continued to collaborate with many acts, playing on albums by Múm, Pan Sonic, and Valgeir Sigurðsson, and releasing her second solo album, 2009's Without Sinking, which featured contributions from Jóhannsson, Skúli Sverrisson, and her father, clarinetist and composer Guðni Franzson.
Collaborations with Hauschka and the Knife followed, and in 2011, Guðnadóttir made her first entry into film music, composing the score for the horror film The Bleeding House. Her 2012 album Leyfðu Ljósinu was entirely a solo cello affair, captured live at the Music Research Centre in York, England. Over the next several years, she increased her focus on film projects, composing scores for the 2013 German-Turkish drama Jîn and the 2016 Icelandic thriller The Oath, and recording cello parts for director Denis Villeneuve's films Sicario (2015) and Arrival (2016), both of which were scored by Jóhannsson. She also managed to release her fourth solo outing in 2014's Saman. Working with Jóhannsson, Guðnadóttir helped compose the score for the biblical drama Mary Magdalene and, following Jóhannsson's sudden death in early 2018, contributed to the posthumous reissue of his acclaimed debut, Englabörn, which appeared as Englabörn & Variations. In addition to the Mary Magdalene score, 2018 also saw the release of her scores for Sicario: Day of the Soldado and the Netflix documentary Strong Island. Her film work continued the following year with an Emmy-winning score for the HBO miniseries Chernobyl and a film score for the high-profile Joaquin Phoenix superhero film Joker, the latter of which won Guðnadóttir a Golden Globe Award and received an Oscar nomination. ~ Timothy Monger, Rovi