As a listener, instrumental genres and soundtracks have always been important to me. The wordlessness of it all gave me a platform to process and reflect on things that were personal to me; it so easily becomes a soundtrack to my own life. My hope is that my work can provide at least some measure of that for those who come across it. If nothing else, I hear it makes for good work/study music. Or something to put on during late night drives. Or background music while you make pancakes (not recommended for french toast-- will only end in disaster).

John Hilsen is a composer from Minneapolis, MN. He focuses primarily on instrumental, melody-driven music and often can be found sitting at a piano.

His first album Lapyear is a collection of twelve original songs for solo piano.

John regularly composes for theater companies such as Sheep Theatre, as well as improv theaters (such as HUGE Theater and ComedySportz), improvising scores on-the-spot in a variety of genres. For both improv and scripted theater, he turns the keyboard into a lifelike one-person orchestra with his knowledge of orchestration and music software. John has contributed numerous works for GoNoodle, a service that streams sing-along, movement-based videos into schools worldwide. Additionally, he also composes for commercials, including several produced by The Stable.

John was awarded “Best Music and Soundscape Composition” by Lavender Magazine in their “Best of 2018” list for his original score of The Minotaur.


“The vintage film element resonance further transports the staging with an utterly magnificent score by John Hilsen. This composer-keyboard musician has an uncanny ear for the orchestral sounds of the early and middle 20th century and their deep influence on film scores. At points his music is breathtaking.”

-Lavender Magazine, review of The Minotaur

“His sonatas are emotional and charming, calm and cheerful pieces alternate dynamically… John Hilsen lives out his feelings on the piano, which can be heard very clearly on individual pieces.”

-Gezeitenstrom Musikmagazin, review of Lapyear