Many of her compositions deal with the acoustic environment. Particular themes include soundscapes of urban or rural areas, including voices, noise, silence, music and media, and so on. In several of these compositions, she incorporates the poetry of her then-partner, Canadian writer Norbert Ruebsaat. She has composed for film soundtracks and her music has been featured in two Gus Van Sant movies Elephant (2003) and Last Days (2005). She is a founding member of the World Forum on Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) and a co-founder of Vancouver Co-op radio.
Hildegard Westerkamp was born on April 8, 1946, in Osnabrück, Germany.
In 1965, during a family trip to Canada, she met her future partner in life and work, Norbert Ruebsaat.
From 1966 to 1968, she attended the Conservatory of Music in Freiburg, where she studied flute and piano.
In 1968, she emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. From 1968 to 1972, she studied music at the University of British Columbia, receiving her Bachelor of Music degree in 1972.
In 1977, Westerkamp and Ruebsaat had a daughter, Sonja Ruebsaat.
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Recordings featuring Westerkamp's compositions, chronologically:
- (1989) Kits Beach Soundwalk
- (1990) Anthology of Canadian Music:Electroacoustic music
- (1990) The Aerial 2
- (1990) Électro clips (empreintes DIGITALes, IMED 9004, rereleased 1996 as IMED 9604)
- (1994) Radio Rethink - art and sound transmission
- (1995) Der Verlust der Stille
- (1995) Klang Wege
- (1995) Transmissions From Broadcast Artists, Radius #4
- (1996) The Vancouver Soundscape
- (1996) Transformations (empreintes DIGITALes, IMED 9631)
- (1997) 1977-1997, 20 Jahre Osnabrücker Komponisten
- (1998) Harangue I (Earsay, ES 98001)
- (1998) Harangue II (Earsay, ES 98005)
- (1999) The Dreams of Gaia
- (2000) Radiant Dissonance
- (2002) Into India (Earsay, ES 02002)
- (2003) Musique inpirée et tirée du film Elephant
- (2003) S:on
List of works
Individual Westerkamp compositions, alphabetically:
- "Attending to Sacred Matters" (2002)
- "A Walk Through the City" (1981)
- "Beneath the Forest Floor" (1992)
- "Breaking News" (2002)
- "Breathing Room" (1990)
- "Convergence Radio" (1989)
- "Cricket Voice" (1987)
- "École polytechnique" (1990) - churchbells, mixed choir, bass clarinet, trumpet, percussion, and tape
- "Fantasie for Horns II" (1979) - French horn and tape
- "Für Dich-For You" (2005)
- "Gently Penetrating" (1997)
- "Gently Penetrating beneath the sounding surfaces of another place"
- "Into the Labyrinth" (2000)
- "Kits Beach Soundwalk" (1989) - spoken voice and tape
- "Talking Rain" (1998)
- "Türen der Wahrnehmungen (Doors of Perception)" (1989)
- "Whisper Study" (1975–79)
- Canadian Encyclopedia entry
- The Work of Hildegard Westerkamp in the Films of Gus Van Stat by Randolf Jordan
- Interviews on The Paula Gordan Show
- Interview with Vital magazine (1993) by Ios Smolders
- McCartney, Andra. "Sounding Places with Hildegard Westerkamp." Electronic Music Foundation Institute site, November 2000: http://emfinstitute.emf.org/materials/mccartney00/ (developed from a PhD dissertation submitted to York University Graduate Programme in Music, including a biography in chapter 4)
- Steenhuisen, Paul. “Interview with Hildgard Westerkamp.” In Sonic Mosaics: Conversations with Composers. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-88864-474-9
- Woloshyn, Alexa. “Playing with the Voice and Blurring Boundaries in Hildegard Westerkamp’s “MotherVoiceTalk”.” eContact! 14.4 — TES 2011: Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium / Symposium électroacoustique de Toronto (March 2013). Montréal: CEC.