Hauschka, composer

Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?

It sounds pretty boring but I knew already as a kid that I wanted to be a musician. By the age of 9 I decided that I wanted to learn piano, and by the age of 12 I had already composed music. I always had a very strong drive to express my inner world.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

I was raised in a very strong Christian community where music was always around, specifically Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. We were all singing in choirs and I started to play recorder in a recorder ensemble when I was 5. I remember hearing the first records from Queen and Pink Floyd and being blown away by them. They became big influences as I had never heard music like that before. It was extremely inspiring.

By the age of 18 I was a big R&B fan and Grandmaster Flash was for me a total eye opener – and I’m still being inspired and moved by many more today.

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?

The biggest challenge was finding out which area of music I was strongest in to have a career. It also means you have to face your weak spots in order to find the music that you want to represent and what you want to be proud of. The biggest frustration was that it took an extremely long time and it had a lot of ups and downs.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

Commissioned pieces give you the financial support to work on a composition more extensively, as it enables you to stop all other work and concentrate on writing it.

It feels a little bit like earlier times where the church or kings gave commissions to composers like Mozart, for example.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

All collaborators have their own special characters and strengths. It is a big pleasure to learn from them and to find the best ways to collaborate. With Hilary Hahn, for example, we decided to make an improvised album and it took quite a while until we felt ready for it.

Of which works are you most proud?

I would say I am proud of all the Hauschka albums as they somehow document the development in my musical approach and there isn’t any record that I don’t like or I don’t want to listen to anymore.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

I compose contemporary music with a tonal and experimental approach. I treat sound and melody equally, and for some pieces you could even say they are a kind of sound-sculpture.

How do you work?

I start in the early morning in my studio recording pieces. On the weekends I take time off or I have concerts.

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

Arnold Schönberg and Aphex Twin

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

When you can afford a living from work that you really appreciate.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

The most important thing is to constantly work without getting frustrated when things are not working out.

It is important to keep your integrity and to be humble, even when you get more feedback and the success starts to rise. Arrogance and an inflated ego will always destroy what you have built in the end.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Where I am now but working less

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To wake up and do what I want to do.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Playing piano and travelling.

What is your present state of mind?

Calm and excited


Hauschka – A Different Forest. Out now on Sony Classical (CD/Vinyl/Digitally).

See Hauschka live in April:

11 April, St. George’s Bristol

12 April, Barbican Centre, London

For more information visit


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