Who is Ramin Djawadi, the Iranian-German composer behind ‘House of the Dragon’?

The acclaimed musician also wrote the soundtrack for all seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’

Iranian-German composer Ramin Djawadi has composed the soundtrack of hit new show 'House of the Dragon'. Photo: Getty Images
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

It's time to journey back to Westeros.

The new Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon conjures up the television franchise’s themes of honour, revenge and redemption through its brilliantly unsettling score by Iranian-German composer Ramin Djawadi.

In the lead-up to Sunday's premiere episode, now available for streaming on OSN+, a song from the House of the Dragon soundtrack was released on YouTube and music streaming platforms.

With the eerie and sparse track The Prince That Was Promised, Djawadi, 48, fulfils his promise — the music is in tune with the theme of the Games of Thrones universe.

"All I can say is that we definitely, overall speaking, kept the original DNA alive, but there’s also a lot of material that I’ve written," he told Entertainment Tonight.

"I think what I love so much about this new show is that it’s different, but at the same time it feels like home. When I watched it for the first time, I felt immediately at home in Westeros again.

“It just has that vibe again, and so I wanted to make sure that, with the score, we have that familiarity, but also bring some new instruments we haven’t used before.”

From being mentored by a maestro to the rules he followed when composing the Game of Thrones soundtrack, here is what you need to know about Djawadi.

1. He studied at a leading US conservatory

Born in Germany to an Iranian father and German mother, Djawadi graduated from the Berklee College of Music in the US, having studied guitar and film scoring.

“The music I was writing lent itself to film,” he said in an interview on the conservatory’s YouTube page.

“Because film scoring is such a wide style of music, I think it's important for everybody to pursue their favourite music rather than trying to copy somebody else.

“What people in the industry look for is to find something original. So pursue what you like best because that's when you write your best music.”

2. He was mentored by Hans Zimmer

German composer Hans Zimmer performs during the 'Hans Zimmer Live 2022' concert at the Atlas Arena in Lodz, central Poland. EPA

Djawadi got his industry start by landing a job as a studio hand at Remote Control Productions in Los Angeles, a film score company run by Oscar-winning German composer Hans Zimmer.

As part of the gig, Djawadi assisted composer Klaus Badelt in contributing additional music and arrangement for 2003 blockbuster film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

“I was literally working in the machine room taking care of the computers and the samplers and all that.

“Then, little by little I was allowed to work on some projects. My big breakthrough was the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and so that's when I started arrangements,” he said in an interview for the Grammy Awards website.

“(Zimmer) has been an incredible mentor for me, not only musically, but I think more so how the meanings are done and how to be organised with all the amount of music to write, and there's so many other aspects to the business other than just writing music.”

3. One instrument was banned when composing ‘Games of Thrones’

By the time he was tapped by Games of Thrones creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss, Djwadi was in demand by Hollywood, having composed his own projects and assisted Zimmer in a string of hit films including 2005's Batman Begins , 2008's Iron Man and Deception (2008).

After watching two unreleased episodes of Games of Thrones, Djawadi signed up for the series and created a modern score according to guidelines set by Benioff and Weiss.

“One of those famous things that we laugh about is when they said to me right away, ‘we don't want any mediaeval flutes, because I know we have dragons and we have swords and all that, so no mediaeval flute,’” the composer said in an interview on the Grammy Awards website.

“They said, 'look, you can use synthesisers,' because there's definitely plenty of synthesisers in the score.

“It's all pretty much organic, but they wanted contemporary. Then the cello came up, which is the leading instrument in the show, and we all agreed that that could be a great instrument.”

4. He went on a world tour

The success of Games of Thrones not only resulted in the separate releases of soundtracks for all eight seasons, but also resulted in Djawadi embarking on his first and only concert tour.

For the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, he conducted an 80-piece orchestra and choir for a North American and European arena tour spanning 87 shows from 2017 to 2019.

Each performance was split into two sections, with the composer playing 34 works and the Games of Thrones theme performed in the encore.

5. He hears in colours

Djawadi reportedly has synaesthesia, a perceptual condition that has him seeing colours when music notes are played.

“It’s actually something my wife discovered,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “She’d always asked me about my process and how I write music, so I just described it to her.

“I see it in visuals and all the colours come to me and it triggers notes and melodies and I didn’t know there was a terminology for it.”

Scroll the gallery below to see images of how the 'Game of Thrones' characters changed from season 1 to 8:

Updated: August 23, 2022, 2:42 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL