Jóhann Jóhannsson: Last and First Men

A film and live score

A still image from Last and First Men depicting a dilapidated building

Music, film and narration form a poetic meditation on memory and loss in a performance of Jóhannsson's breathtaking multimedia work, Last and First Men.

Based on the cult science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, it combines music, film and narration from Tilda Swinton, sitting somewhere between fiction and documentary. Images of a decaying futuristic landscape – filmed in 16mm black and white in the former Yugoslav republics – are placed against Jóhannsson’s haunting orchestral score, crafted over seven years, before its premiere at the 2017 Manchester International Festival.

Having passed away in February, we've made the decision not to replace Jóhann – instead, the performance will go ahead in tribute to him, and recordings that Jóhann made of his own parts will be played live alongside the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daníel Bjarnason.

This performance will begin promptly at the advertised start time and running time will be confirmed closer to the event.

As a guide, please note that events usually finish by 11pm at the latest.

Produced by the Barbican. Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the Barbican Centre and Sydney Opera House. Film co-produced by Flanders Festival Kortrijk with the support of Gone West, Province of West Flanders. Supported by the Embassy of Iceland


A film and score by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Film narrated by Tilda Swinton
Cinematography by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Soundtrack performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Daníel Bjarnason
Vocal performance by Theatre of Voices (Else Torp, Kate Macoboy)
Lighting Design by Stuart Bailes 


Beat the queues

Members enjoy priority booking for this show, discounts on selected shows & members-only events including pre-show DJ sets in the Members’ Lounge


photo of johann johannssen

Podcast: Remembering Jóhann Jóhannsson – Episode 1

We meet some of the people who worked with the late composer, including Kitchen Motor co-founder Kira Kira, Barbican programmer Chris Sharp and Fat Cat Records’s David Howell.

black and white photo of johann johannsson

Podcast: Remembering Jóhann Jóhannsson – Episode 2

In this episode we talk to filmmaker James Marsh about the score to The Theory of Everything, musician Adam Wiltzie about putting together Jóhann’s first tours, and his manager Tim Husom about future plans for Jóhann’s estate.

photo of johann johannssen

Listen: Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhann Jóhannsson lay the foundations for a wave of musicians that have redefined contemporary classical music, by marrying instruments and technology in thought-provoking new ways.

black and white photo of johann johannsson

From the archive: Jóhann Jóhannsson on 'The Miners' Hymns'

In 2014, we invited Jóhann Jóhannsson on our podcast to discuss the silent film 'The Miners' Hymns' and the history - and future - of the mining communities in northeast England. Take a listen...

Barbican Hall