Volker Bertelmann Interview: ‘Patrick Melrose’ composer
“It’s a challenge to work on the music because every episode has a different approach,” reveals “Patrick Melrose” composer Volker Bertelmann. Based on a series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn, the show follows the life journey of the title character (Benedict Cumberbatch) from his privileged yet abusive childhood, to his struggles with addiction and heartbreak, and to his ultimate redemption. All five episodes are directed by Edward Berger and written by David Nicholls. And Cumberbatch appears alongside Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving, Allison Williams and Blythe Danner. Watch our exclusive video interview with Bertelmann above.
Because the series careens back and forth between different moods and tones, Bertelmann had the opportunity to try out a variety of musical styles. “The first episode, for example, is nearly a complete drug trip,” he explains, “so it’s full of speed and tempo” and “a lot of weird sounds.” The second episode, on the other hand, “plays mostly in France in the bourgeoisie house in the countryside” where Patrick grew up, “so there is much less tempo.” Contrast that with the third episode, which takes place “in a kind of aristocrat family in England,” which required a different sound. The composer was excited by the challenge of “connecting dots with different instrumentations” to “find a way of expressing that it’s from the same story, but … using a lot of diversity.”
Bertelmann received Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice nominations for his original score for “Lion” (2016, shared with Dustin O’Halloran). His music can be heard in the recently released film “Adrift.” And under the stage name Hauschka he has recorded albums including “Substantial,” “Room to Expand,” “Small Pieces,” “Foreign Landscapes,” and “What If.”