An Icelandic record-breaking composer made history – again – earlier this week when she picked up a GRAMMY for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for her music to the hit HBO TV drama, Chernobyl.
Hildur Guðnadóttir became the first solo female composer to bag the award – and the first woman in 35 years to win a GRAMMY for a visual media score. (Sharon Robinson, Sue Sheridan and Allee Willis won for Beverly Hills Cop in 1985.)
The Deutsche Grammophon artist has had a run of success in recent years, picking up Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Best Original Score for Joker, the film for which she also scooped Best Original Score – Motion Picture at the Golden Globes, making her the first woman ever to win the coveted prize as solo composer.
Among a roll-call of prestigious accolades, she was a double-winner at the inaugural Society of Composers and Lyricists’ Awards, picking up Outstanding Original Score for a Studio Film (Joker) and Outstanding Original Score for Television or Streaming Production (Chernobyl).
Speaking at the Golden Globes in January, Guðnadóttir said: “I’ve been doing film music for almost 20 years, so it’s been a long time coming … I don’t really know exactly what happened at this point for everything to explode so massively [for me] but it’s definitely been a beautiful year and incredible to get both of these opportunities at the same time. [Joker and Chernobyl] were so different and so all-encompassing.”
She added: “I’ve noticed a bit of wariness sometimes in the last decade or so to trust women for these bigger projects. But I believe that because of all the awareness that has been raised in the last couple of years about the position of women in the industry, I have benefitted a lot.”
Guðnadóttir was named Television Composer of the Year at the 2019 World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent and is currently nominated in the Best Classical Artist category at this year’s Global Awards. This week she gave a live performance of her Chernobyl soundtrack at the Betonhalle on 29 and 30 January as part of the CTM Festival, an event held annually in Berlin and dedicated to “Adventurous Music and Art”.
To mark Guðnadóttir’s landmark achievements, Deutsche Grammophon released her earlier recordings under its own imprint. Her first two solo albums, Mount A and Without Sinking, were released on 10 January, as was Iridescence, an 11-minute extended-play single also featuring Jóhann Jóhannsson and Skúli Sverrisson. Her remaining two solo albums, Leyfðu Ljósinu (“Allow the Light”) and Saman (“Together”), were released a week later. Her new single and video Fólk fær andlit came out this week.