Chernobyl soundtrack: who composed the haunting music for the HBO miniseries?

22 July 2019, 12:54 | Updated: 22 July 2019, 16:11

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Created using real sounds from a nuclear power plant, the soundtrack for ‘Chernobyl’ provides a chilling musical accompaniment to the multi-award-nominated HBO miniseries.

Chernobyl, a five-part series on HBO, has been nominated for a staggering 19 Emmy Awards.

Included in the nominations is Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, who received her first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series.

The five-episode series, which premiered in May, dramatizes the true story of the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR.

The plot of the TV series is based in part on recollections of Pripyat locals, as told in Svetlana Alexievich’s book Voices from Chernobyl.

Chernobyl Soundtrack Full Album|HBO

How did Guðnadóttir write the music for Chernobyl?

Every sound heard in Guðnadóttir’s extraordinary score was captured from an actual power plant, including pumps, reactors and turbines.

The Icelandic composer captured field recordings at a now-decommissioned plant in Lithuania, where the series was filmed.

In an interview on Score: The Podcast, Guðnadóttir said: “It’s such a complicated story to tell. How does that sound? Like [what] does a catastrophe really feel like and how does it sound…

“We associate certain sounds of a nuclear disaster and those emitters, but there are so many other sounds that are there that were just so interesting to observe.”

'Chernobyl' composer created entire haunting score from real power plant sounds

Who is Hildur Guðnadóttir?

Guðnadóttir has scored several Danish films as well as writing the music for Mary Magadalene (2018) alongside Jóhann Jóhansson, which was the last film he worked on before he died.

She is also known as a singer and choral music arranger, and will score the upcoming film Joker, which is based on the comic character of the same name and will star Joaquin Phoenix.

And if that wasn’t enough, she is also a classically-trained cellist. She has recorded with a number of Scandinavian bands and released a solo album in 2006.

For the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award, Hildur is up against the composers for Escape At Dannemora, Good Omens, True Detective and When They See Us – but we think she stands a fighting chance.

The winners of the 71st Annual Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony will be held over two nights on 14 and 15 September 2019, with the results of the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards announced a week later on 22 September.