He has made a name for himself as a master of the prepared piano – a method developed by John Cage in 1940: Now the German composer Hauschka has received the Oscar for the best film music. The 56-year-old cleared Monday night in Los Angeles with the remarque film “Nothing New in the West”. The award “of course feels great,” said Hauschka. “I’m flashed that it happened.”

He is the fourth German to win the Oscar for film music: After Franz Wachsmann (1951/1952), André Previn (1959/1960/1964/1965) and Hans Zimmer (1995/2022). Hauschka alias Volker Bertelmann (56) lives in Düsseldorf with his wife and son. He has two more adult daughters.

For “Nothing New in the West” he used his great-grandmother’s harmonium, on which she played Christian songs, Hauschka said after the award ceremony. But he distorted the sound with an amplifier. “I don’t think she would have liked that.”

Hauschka was born in Kreuztal in Siegerland, where he also grew up. He studied medicine up to the physics degree. In the early 1990s, he and his cousin founded the hip-hop band “God’s Favorite Dog”, which made it to the opening act for the “Fantastischen Vier” but then broke up.

In 2004 the sound artist released his first album as Hauschka. His prepared piano made him famous: he put crown caps, table tennis balls or tealight cases on the strings, with which he elicited new, strange sounds from the piano. He also glued strings together, used felt wedges or wooden sticks, which the piano used to make drum sounds. John Cage did a similar thing in 1940.

For years he applied in vain for larger film music projects. “You go a long way from frustration and questions,” said Hauschka a few years ago. “One doubts oneself.” It was the soundtrack for the film “Lion” starring Nicole Kidman that put the Düsseldorfer in the spotlight in 2017. He had already been nominated for all the major film awards for this.

Hauschka website