Volker Bertelmann, a German composer, received the Oscar for best original score on Sunday night for the World War I epic “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
In expressing gratitude for the distinction, Bertelmann remarked, “Working on a project like that always leaves you affected. Because there are so many explosions, you sometimes have to make the screen quite small.
This is Bertelmann’s first Oscar. He was previously recognised for the soundtrack he and Dustin O’Halloran co-composed for the 2016 film “Lion,” under the stage name Hauschka. For “All Silence,” he received the BAFTA on February 19.
The most recent in a string of partnerships with filmmaker Edward Berger is the German-language adaptation of the 1930 antiwar classic. The five-part Benedict Cumberbatch television series “Patrick Melrose,” which premiered in 2018 on Showtime, is their best-known production in the United States.
Bertelmann utilised the harmonium his great-grandmother played in the early 20th century, a pump organ whose carefully recorded interior noises (such as “the breathing, the air, and the wooden cracklings”) to him sounded like “a war machine.”
The entire soundtrack is permeated by Bertelmann’s terrifying three-note “destruction” motive, which Berger compared to Led Zeppelin. His music for the innocent soldier Paul was also filtered to simulate the muffled sound he could have heard in trenches surrounded by gunfire and explosions.
Bertelmann is a prominent figure in the European avant-garde music scene and regularly uses electronics and a prepared piano. The Old Guard and Ammonite are some of his other motion pictures.