Hauschka in 2014
Hauschka in 2014
Background information
Birth nameVolker Bertelmann
GenresElectronic music, avant-garde
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
LabelsCity Slang and Temporary Residence

Volker Bertelmann (born 1966) is a German composer and pianist who mainly performs and records under the name Hauschka. He is best known for his compositions for prepared piano.[1][2] He won an Academy Award and a British Academy Film Award for his work on All Quiet on the Western Front (2022).

Early life

Bertelmann was born in Kreuztal. He grew up in the village of Ferndorf in the district of Siegen-Wittgenstein, North Rhine-Westphalia. The fifth of six children, he discovered piano playing at the age of eight at church service. He began studying classical piano and continued taking lessons for the next ten years.[3]

Bertelmann formed his first rock band when he was fourteen. During the following years he was commissioned to compose music for television and sang in a number of other bands. After leaving school he moved to Cologne, where he began studying medicine and then switched to a course in business economics, but gave up both in order to concentrate on music.[4]


1992–2003: Early career

In 1992, Hauschka and his cousin formed the hip-hop duo God's Favorite Dog, who became known above all for their tracks Love and Pain and Sway. They released an album on Sony Music's Epic label and went on to perform nationally and internationally, among others as a support act for Die Fantastischen Vier. The duo split in 1995 to pursue other directions.[5]

After a period of drifting, Bertelmann moved to Düsseldorf and started making music again, drawing on his years of classical piano training. He composed pieces for piano and released them under the alias Hauschka; he wanted to use an Eastern European-sounding pseudonym and found Bohemian composer Vincenz Hauschka as a reference.[6]

2004–2006: Prepared piano beginnings

The first Hauschka album Substantial was released in 2004 on the Cologne label Karaoke Kalk, followed in 2005 by The Prepared Piano on the same label. On this second album Bertelmann explored the possibilities of the prepared piano by wedging pieces of leather, felt or rubber between the piano strings, wrapping aluminium foil around the hammers, placing small objects on the strings or joining them together with guitar strings or adhesive tape.[7]

2007–2010: Room to Expand, Ferndorf and Foreign Landscapes

In 2007 Bertelmann signed a recording contract with 130701, an imprint of FatCat Records, through which his album Ferndorf was released in 2008.[8]

Following a concert performance with the Magik*Magik Orchestra, Bertelmann decided to integrate other musical instruments into his compositions, and in January 2010 the resulting works were performed in San Francisco by an orchestra led by Minna Choi. With Ian Pellicci as the sound engineer, they were recorded in John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio. Volker Bertelmann then recorded the piano tracks at Studio Zwei in Düsseldorf, and the album Foreign Landscapes was released on the 130701 label later that year.[9][10]

2011–2014: Salon des Amateurs, Silfra and film score beginnings

Hauschka during Denovali Swingfest 2015

On his 2011 album Salon des Amateurs Bertelmann collaborated with notable musicians such as Samuli Kosminen (Múm, Edea), Jeffrey Zeigler (ex Kronos Quartet), Pekka Kusisto, The band Múm, Nik Bartsch, Henrik Schwarz and Hilary Hahn, as well as Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino. These recordings were originally intended as a joint release with Foreign Landscapes, whereby on the one hand the piano was going to be just one instrument among many, and on the other it was to be used primarily as a rhythm instrument.[11] The recorded pieces did not fit together in the way Bertelmann had envisaged, however, so he decided to release the two albums separately. Foreign Landscapes represents a shift of focus away from the prepared piano as a solo instrument, while Salon des Amateurs signals a move towards a more strongly rhythmic approach.[12]

The release of Salon des Amateurs was followed by the release of remix album Salon des Amateurs Remixes, which featured notable contributions by Michael Mayer, Matthew Herbert, Max Loderbauer & Ricardo Villalobos, Alva Noto and Steve Bicknell.

In May 2012 Silfra, a collaborative album with the American violinist Hilary Hahn, was released on Deutsche Grammophon. Named after the Silfra rift in Iceland, it consists of twelve improvisations by Bertelmann and Hahn that were recorded by Valgeir Sigurdsson at Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavík.[13]

In 2012 Bertelmann wrote his first score for a feature film, entitled Glück, which was directed by Doris Dörrie.[14]

2015 – Present: Lion, What If and commissioned works

In 2015, Bertelmann was an artist-in-residence at the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. He created three pieces for them, most notably his collaboration with Múm entitled 'Drowning', which they premiered at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig on 27 June 2015.[15] In 2016, he was commissioned to create a piece for acclaimed cellist Nicholas Altstädt. The piece, Lost, premiered at Viva Cello in September 2016.[16]

In 2016, Bertelmann collaborated with Dustin O'Halloran on the score for the Oscar-nominated film Lion.[17] The score of the film was nominated for all major awards including the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Critics' Choice Awards.

In 2017, he released solo album 'What If' on City Slang and Temporary Residence. The album explores the possibilities of his music, inspired by hip-hop, performed by fast and accurate player pianos. Bertelmann wrote two pieces for Avi Avital, called Flood and Drought, which premiered at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in July 2017.[18]

In 2018, he composed the score for the film Adrift, which is based on the true story of a sailor stranded at sea after a storm. Adrift is directed by Baltasar Kormákur and stars Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin. Hauschka stated, "Collaborating with Baltasar Kormákur was a wonderful experience and he gave me a lot of freedom to find the right sound for the film. Adrift tells a story about love and the fragility of human existence, so I wanted to create some sort of instrumental tension to reflect both the darkness and peril, as well as the lightness and love in this film. We ended up recording a full string orchestra at British Grove in London and added piano and experimental electronics to create a diverse and dynamic score. I'm very happy with the result, and I feel fortunate to have been part of this powerful film."[19]

In 2019, he created the Hauschka Composer Toolkit sample library with Spitfire Audio, featuring many of his signature sounds.

2020 had him doing Netflix's blockbuster movie of the summer, The Old Guard starring Charlize Theron, as well as Summerland with Gemma Arterton, Francis Lee's romantic drama Ammonite, and the sci-fi movie Stowaway starring Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette.

In 2022, he scored All Quiet on the Western Front for Netflix, the official Best International Feature Film Oscar-entry for Germany, and War Sailor, both of which were official selections at the Toronto International Film Festival. For his work on the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the BAFTA Award for Best Original Music.




Soundtrack albums



Year Title Director Notes
2007 Wortbrot Estelle Klawitter
2008 Bloksky Jeff Desom Also actor, "Hektor Bloksky"
Act of Violence Lars Henning Jung
2009 In Between a Kiss Reza Rameri
Morgenrot Jeff Desom Credited as Music by Hauschka
2010 QC Notorious Robert Agro-Melina
2011 Sehnsucht Faiza Zaidi
2012 Bliss Doris Dörrie Music producer
2013 Wild Horses Stephanie Martin
2014 Futuro Beach Karim Aïnouz Credited as Hauschka
Farewell Herr Schwarz Yael Reuveny
2016 The Boy Craig William Macneill Credited as Hauschka
In Dubious Battle James Franco
Lion Garth Davis Composed with Dustin O'Halloran, credited as Hauschka
2017 The Current War Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Composed with Dustin O'Halloran
Provided original score for the theatrical release, replaced with a new score by Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans
1000 Arten, den Regen zu beschreiben Isabel Prahl
2018 Adrift Baltasar Kormákur
Hotel Mumbai Anthony Maras
Ashes in the Snow Marius A. Markevicius
2019 The Art of Racing in the Rain Simon Curtis Composed with Dustin O'Halloran
Musician, piano
The Perfect Candidate Haifaa al-Mansour
2020 Downhill Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
The Old Guard Gina Prince-Bythewood Composed with Dustin O'Halloran
Summerland Jessica Swale
Ammonite Francis Lee Composed with Dustin O'Halloran
2021 Stowaway Joe Penna
2022 Against the Ice Peter Flinth
All Quiet on the Western Front Edward Berger Original score
War Sailor Gunnar Vikene Original score
2023 The Dive Max Erlenwein Composed with Raffael Seyfried
2024 Road House Doug Liman Post-production


Year Title Director Notes
2009 Tales of the Defeated Yael Reuveny
2016 Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen Sönke Wortmann Musician, prepared piano
Exodus Hank Levine
2017 AlphaGo Greg Kohs
2019 Cunningham Alla Kovgan
Dialogue Earth Hank Levine


Year Title Network Notes
2017 Gunpowder BBC One TV miniseries
2018 Patrick Melrose Showtime (US)
Sky Atlantic (UK)
TV miniseries
Credited as Hauschka
2019 The Name of the Rose Rai 1 TV miniseries
Dublin Murders BBC One
A Christmas Carol BBC One
TV miniseries
Composed with Dustin O'Halloran
2020 Your Honor Showtime TV miniseries
2022 Barbarians (Season 2) Netflix TV Series
2022 Life after Life BBC Two TV miniseries

Awards and nominations

Year Award Nomination Movie / TV Series Result Notes
2022 Academy Award Best Original Score All Quiet on the Western Front Won
2022 BAFTA Best Film Music
2023 German Film Awards Best Film Music
2019 BAFTA Original Music Patrick Melrose Nominated
2017 7th AACTA Awards Best Original Score Lion Won Shared with Dustin O'Halloran
2017 Academy Award Best Original Score Nominated
2017 Golden Globe Best Original Score
2017 BAFTA Best Film Music
2016 Critics' Choice Best Score
2014 Havana Film Festival Best Music Praia do Futuro


  1. ^ "Oscar-nominated composer Hauschka rips open the piano on "Constant Growth Fails"". 9 February 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  2. ^ Ehrlich, David (30 November 2016). "How Hauschka And Dustin O'Halloran Helped Lion Find Its Way Home | IndieWire". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  3. ^ "How Hauschka fuses prepared piano, modern software and analogue synthesis". MusicRadar. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  4. ^ "How Hauschka fuses prepared piano, modern software and analogue synthesis". MusicRadar. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  5. ^ "It's piano but not as we know it from Hauschka". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Hauschka | Pitchfork". 14 January 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  7. ^ Teinert, Dieter. "Hauschka – What If – SLANG50117". (in German). Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  8. ^ Ferndorf by Hauschka, retrieved 14 July 2017
  9. ^ Ross, Daniel. "BBC – Music – Review of Hauschka – Foreign Landscapes". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Hauschka: Foreign Landscapes Album Review". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Slamming Colour on the Canvas: A Conversation with German Piano Maestro Hauschka". Thump. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  12. ^ "theartsdesk on Vinyl 27: Spoon, Hauschka, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and more". 4 May 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  13. ^ Smith, Steve (6 July 2012). "'Silfra,' by Hilary Hahn and Hauschka". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  14. ^ "The Quietus | Features | Escape Velocity | Sounds From A Ghost Town: An Interview With Hauschka". The Quietus. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  15. ^ Beck, Jennifer (30 June 2015). "Drowning – Live-Premiere: Hauschka & Múm spielen atemberaubendes Konzert mit Sinfonieorchester". Spex Magazin. Archived from the original on 2 August 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Film scores range from experimental sounds ('Arrival') to simple, hushed restraint ('A Monster Calls')". Los Angeles Times. 8 December 2016. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  17. ^ Grobar, Matt (17 February 2017). "'Lion' Composers Dustin O'Halloran And Hauschka On The Trial And Error Involved When Two Composers Are In The Picture". Deadline. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  18. ^ "How Hauschka fuses prepared piano, modern software and analogue synthesis". MusicRadar. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Sony Classical Announces 'Adrift' Soundtrack". Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  20. ^ "Hauschka | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Hauschka". Discogs. Retrieved 14 July 2017.