ZFF honours composer Volker Bertelmann
The Zurich Film Festival honours the German composer Volker Bertelmann with its Career Achievement Award for his life’s work. He will receive the award on September 30 during the 11th International Film Music Competition (IFMC) at the Tonhalle Zurich. Bertelmann is also the jury president of this year’s IFMC. His list of best-known works includes the score for the anti-war drama ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, which won the German an Oscar earlier this year.
Each year, the Zurich Film Festival presents honorary awards to celebrated film workers who have shaped and enriched the film landscape. This year, the 19th ZFF (Sept 28 – Oct 10) pays tribute with its Career Achievement Award to the multifaceted life’s work of Volker Bertelmann, also known by his alias Hauschka. “Volker Bertelmann is a virtuoso pianist and one of the most significant film composers of our time,” declares Christian Jungen, ZFF’s Artistic Director. “He is a master of reinvention, constantly evolving and drawing on his own inspiration to create authentic scores that invariably serve each film’s narrative. With his doom-laden triad for ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, he has created an iconic piece of music that both freezes the blood in our veins and leaves behind an indelible impression. As an artist, Bertelmann is a shining example of how to conquer Hollywood from Europe and thus a perfect role model for many young musicians.”
Volker Bertelmann is delighted to be visiting Zurich for the 19th ZFF: “I see the Zurich Film Festival as a place where crowds of international filmmakers converge to present their works to a European audience. It is a great honour for me to be singled out by the Zurich Film Festival in particular to receive their Career Achievement Award for my work as a musician and film score composer. Such an honour also raises awareness and increases the visibility of music creation in the film industry in general.” He is also looking forward to participating in the International Film Music Competition as its jury president and “giving young score composers in particular the opportunity to present their work within such an esteemed framework thus opening up new perspectives.”
A single-minded career
Volker Bertelmann was born in Germany in 1966. He began a period of study in classical piano at the age of eight that continued for the following ten years. He formed his first band as a teenager and was commissioned to compose music for television. As a young adult, he composed pieces for piano under the pseudonym “Hauschka”, a name borrowed from the Bohemian composer Vinzent Hauschka. The first ever Hauschka album Substantial was released in 2004. On his second album, which followed in 2005, he explored in great depth the possibilities of the prepared piano, clamping leather, felt or pieces of rubber between the strings, wrapping the hammers in aluminium foil, and weighing the strings down with objects tied on with guitar strings or stuck on with adhesive tape. His album Silfra, a collaboration with the award-winning American violinist Hilary Hahn, was released in 2012.
In addition to his multifaceted piano music, Volker Bertelmann has also scored numerous films, including the 2017 movie LION, which celebrated its European premiere at the Zurich Film Festival and garnered him and Dustin O’Halloran both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award nomination. He also scored the 2019 film THE PERFECT CANDIDATE, which screened as a Gala Premiere at the 15th Zurich Film Festival. The year before last, Volker Bertelmann created the music for Edward Bergen’s anti-war movie ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, which celebrated its European premiere at last year’s ZFF. It went on to win four Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Original Score.
Volker Bertelmann at the IFMC
This year, the Zurich Film Festival and the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich AG join forces with the Forum Filmmusik for the 11th time to organise the International Film Music Competition. Entrants were asked to create a new and original score for a short film. The international jury chose three works from the more than 153 submitted. These will be world premiered at the Tonhalle Zurich by the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich under the musical direction of Frank Strobel in the presence of the three nominees during the glamorous “Cinema in Concert” gala event on September 30, 2023. “The Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich has forged a name for itself in the field of film symphonies. Looking to the future in this genre and offering young composers a stage for their talent is incredibly important to us as an institution,” says Marc Barwisch, Head of Artistic Operations Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich AG. The jury, presided over by Volker Bertelmann, will announce the winning composition on the same evening before presenting the 10’000 Swiss franc-endowed Golden Eye for “Best International Film Music 2023”.
He will also present a case study of the movie ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT during the SoundTrack_Zurich conference on Friday, September 29 – the perfect opportunity to experience him up-close and personal.
Zurich Film Festival
The Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) is the second largest festival in the German-speaking world. Over 11 days in autumn, it presents the greatest discoveries and the year’s most anticipated movies. The ZFF promotes exchange between upcoming directors, established filmmakers, the film industry and the general public. Last year’s ZFF attracted over 137,000 spectators and thousands of accredited film and media professionals from all over the world.
The 19th edition takes place from September 28 until October 8, 2023