Who composed the music for HBO’s Chernobyl?

We introduce you to the Emmy-nominated Icelandic composer

Published: July 21, 2019 at 9:00 am

The haunting HBO miniseries Chernobyl has had a very successful week, having been nominated for 19 Emmy Awards.


One of those nominations was for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, which went to Icelandic composer Hildur Guõnadóttir, for whom this is her first Emmy nomination.

The five-episode series brings to life the tale of the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, based in part on the recollections of locals as told in Svetlana Alexievich’s book Voices from Chernobyl.

The score is made up of melodies inspired by the sounds of a power plant: pumps, reactors and turbines. Her research involved capturing field recordings in the decommissioned nuclear plant in Lithuania where the series was filmed, many of which made it into the final soundscape.

Hildur Guõnadóttir has also written scores for various Danish films, as well as on the 2018 film Mary Magdalene, which she worked on with Jóhann Jóhansson, the last film that he worked on before he died and which was released posthumously. Guõnadóttir will be composing the score for the upcoming Joker film, based on the comic character of the same name and starring Joaquin Phoenix. She initially trained classically as a cellist, going on to record with several Scandinavian bands before releasing a solo album in 2006. She is also a singer and choral music arranger as well as a film composer.

Hildur Guõnadóttir is up against the composers from Escape At Dannemora, Good Omens,True Detectiveand When They See Us for the Emmy Award.

The winners of the 2019 Emmy Awards will be announced on Sunday 22 September.



Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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