Oscar-Winning Composer Hauschka Brings Prepared Piano and Poignant Works to 21st Century Playlists

Hauschka is the alter-ego of Academy Award and BAFTA-winning German composer-pianist Volker Bertelmann | Hannes Caspar, courtesy of the artist

The first single from his forthcoming album Philanthropy, the six-minute “Nature” from Hauschka is a prime nominee for the gallery space playlist.

The alter-ego of Academy Award and BAFTA-winning German composer-pianist Volker Bertelmann,  Hauschka is adroit at blending arch-conceptual experimentalism and pop-ambient soundtrack work. His elegiac score for last year’s antiwar epic film All Quiet on the Western Front snagged him an Oscar and rightfully so. Hauschka’s inner-working music is a casual alternative to the anthemic, uplifting work of acclaimed film composer John Williams or static quirks of Danny Elfman.

“Nature” utilizes prepared piano—an avant-garde technique credited to John Cage based on sticking various objects into the piano strings or keys—to expand on a two-note theme with minimal percussion courtesy of a Turkish davul dream, swirls of sound, and ghostly voices that resemble both AI and actual human voices who describe the triumphs and tribulations of their lives. Haunting stuff for sure, and the accompanying video directed by Tilly Shiner features a sole figure named “Henry” dancing through halted and flowing expressionist movements.

While “Nature” will hardly add any oom-pah-pah to the Oktoberfest party playlist, its unique and decidedly somber pleasures will surely intrigue open-minded listeners.

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