Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir Creates History for Her Original Score

It was 19 years when Lisa Gerrard won the Oscar for Best Original Score for the award-winning film, Gladiator, however, she did share it with Hans Zimmer, so she didn’t win a solo award. Enter Hildur Guðnadóttir, Icelandic composer and cellist, who is sweeping award ceremonies this season for her original score for the critically-acclaimed film Joker; it’s been a very long time since a woman composer won a solo award. “Of course, women can write music, and in an industry that’s all about telling stories—telling every single story under the sun—I think it should be an absolute given that we should celebrate every voice under the sun to tell all of these stories. I mean, women are half of the voices in the world,” she said. 

The film grew in tandem with her score rather than the other way around

Trained as a classical cellist, she has been composing for films and television shows for the last 20 years and has not only come in the limelight because of Joker. She won an Emmy in the Fall of 2019 for her haunting composition for Chernobyl, she has also won many accolades for her work in The Oath, Mary Magdalene and Sicario: Day of the Soldado. For the film Joker, director Todd Phillips asked her to compose music for the film while he was still working on the script, usually, the score of the film is written after the shooting is completed, but this allowed for the film to grow in tandem with the music. “It was so beautiful to see Joaquin completely embody what I had felt when I wrote the music. That was exactly the way I experienced the character and it was so magical to see his connection without having to explain it,” she said. 

“I have this opportunity to speak up, proudly, I’m just gonna take it and hope that it does inspire other women”

In the realm of composers for film music, there aren’t many women and it is wonderful to see composers like Hildur Guðnadóttir because according to her, there has been “a reluctance to trust women with these bigger projects. These are, of course, wonderful composers, who are totally deserving of all their opportunities, but it’s exciting to hear other voices.” She also reveals that she is not one to seek out attention, but ever since winning a solo award, “I have this opportunity to speak up, proudly, I’m just gonna take it and hope that it does inspire other women. I think the way to make the biggest change for young women — to see that this is a possibility, to go into this line of work — that’s the best way to do that,” she added. Also, a mother, she believes that her story will also inspire other women composers that you are allowed to have a family in this line of work, “And I, of course, am a mother, and I hope that inspires women to not let that get in the way, to show up and do the work,” she said. 

Image credit: Deadline

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