“An Interstellar Masterpiece” – IndieWire

Per aspera ad astra:  Latin for “Through hardship to the stars.”


Acclaimed composer Max Richter embarks on a journey ‘To The Stars’ as, in the title of the pre-release single, he releases his full soundtrack album to the new movie, AD ASTRA.

A sci-fi thriller set in the future, AD ASTRA stars Brad Pitt as an elite astronaut who travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos. 

Max Richter’s ambitious score, informed by detailed conversations with Brad Pitt and the film’s director James Gray, brings together strings, electronics and vocals to create an epic soundscape that underpins the emotional power and scale of the movie. He first began writing the music to AD ASTRA almost two years ago, in the initial phase of the film’s production.

“I first saw a rough-cut of the film in early 2018 and was immediately intrigued,” Richter recalls. “I knew I wanted to be part of the world James was inventing in AD ASTRA. After James, Brad and I had discussed some initial thoughts, I began by making sketches away from the picture, exploring the themes and psychology of this material in musical terms. These ideas evolved through a collective process of experimentation. James has excellent musical taste, and a refined sense of how sonic and visual objects can inform one another. He’s also fascinated by the expressive possibilities of experimental music production, so was an ideal fellow traveller on this musical voyage of discovery.”

The composer was inspired by the NASA Voyager probes that left Earth in the 70s, destined for the outer planets – a journey similar to that of Brad Pitt’s character in the film. He incorporated sounds transmitted from Voyager 1 and 2 into the fabric of his music.

Max Richter explains: “This ‘location recording’ approach allowed me to use actual material recorded at the sites depicted in the story: when Brad is travelling past Saturn or Jupiter for example, we can actually hear music made from the data the Voyager probes transmitted from that site. The music thus illuminates the story in two ways at once: it illustrates what’s happening in the story a traditional film score way, but it also documents the journey in an entirely new way, by incorporating actual material gathered on the trip.”

Complementing the extended post-production process of the film, Max Richter created two iterations of his AD ASTRA score. The first material, derived from the Voyager data, was written in early 2018 and recorded in January 2019 at AIR Studios in London, while the second recording took place in the summer of 2019. The key components of Max’s score are created through the use of strings and electronics, with added warmth from a female chorus. Together these elements intertwine with the striking visuals of the movie to create “a stunning kind of symphony” (Vanity Fair).

AD ASTRA received an overwhelming response when it premiered at Venice Film Festival last month. With glowing reviews and critical acclaim for Brad Pitt’s performance, it’s being described as a “superb space-opera” (Guardian) and a “memorable journey to the stars” (Time Out). It’s even been ‘Certified Fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes.

Richter concludes: “This film has been a major endeavour. It’s a heartfelt project from both Brad and James – who poured everything into it – and meticulously chipped away at the story over years till they were happy. I have nothing but admiration for this dedication.”

Watch a clip from AD ASTRA featuring Max Richter’s music HERE

Directed by James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant), from a screenplay by Gray and his long-time associate Ethan Gross (“Fringe”), AD ASTRA also stars Academy Award® winner Tommy Lee Jones (Just Getting Started, Jason Bourne), Academy Award® nominee Ruth Negga (Loving, “Preacher”); Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings, Armageddon) and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, Trust).

The film was produced by Plan B Entertainment’s Academy Award®-winning principals Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, p.g.a. and Jeremy Kleiner, p.g.a. (Vice, Moonlight, 12 Years A Slave, The Big Short) along with James Gray, p.g.a., Anthony Katagas, p.g.a. (The Lost City of Z, 12 Years a Slave), RT Features’ Rodrigo Teixeira, p.g.a. (Call Me by Your Name) and Regency Enterprises’ Arnon Milchan (Gone Girl). Marc Butan, Lourenço Sant’Anna, Sophie Mas, Yu Dong, Jeffrey Chan, Anthony Mosawi, Paul Conway, Yariv Milchan and Michael Schaefer serve as executive producers.

Listen to the single:


On October 04, 2019, Deutsche Grammophon will release VOYAGER: ESSENTIAL MAX RICHTER, the first ever collection of the acclaimed British composer’s work. The 33-track collection will be available as a double CD and e-album and contains work from across his vast catalogue, including studio albums such as 2004’s acclaimed The Blue NotebooksRichter; reviewed by Pitchfork as one of the most affecting and universal contemporary classical records in recent memory’, 2012’s Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons, performed by award-winning British violinist Daniel Hope and Berlin’s renowned Konzerthaus Kammerorchester; and 2015’s ground-breaking, eight-and-a-half-hour magnum opus, Sleep. Two previously unreleased bonus tracks from Sleep are also included in this release.

Additionally, the anthology offers a selection from Richter’s numerous film and TV scores, among them 2014’s The Leftovers, which garnered the International Film Music Critics Award for Best Original Score For A Television Series; 2017’s Taboo, awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series; and last year’s Mary Queen Of Scots, which earned him the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score - Feature Film.

VOYAGER contains music from 2010’s Infra, which originated as the celebrated score for Wayne McGregor’s ballet of the same name, performed at London’s Royal Opera House, as well as a version of In The Garden – originally featured on 2017’s Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works, another ballet collaboration with McGregor – recorded at Spotify Studios in New York in 2017. Also included are Mercy, which was recorded live at Berlin’s Meistersaal by renowned American violinist Hilary Hahn, who first commissioned it for 2010’s Encores Project, and – an interpretation by Mari Samuelsen of November from Richter’s 2002 debut, Memoryhouse -  taken from her Mari album which was released earlier this year.  The collection contains liner notes by writer and critic Wyndham Wallace.

Richter, a graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Music and a former pupil of Luciano Berio, first earned a reputation during the 1990s, initially establishing himself with contemporary classical ensemble Piano Circus, which he co-founded, then broadening his horizons by performing with and writing for the genre-resisting Future Sound Of London and Roni Size’s Mercury Prize winning drum and bass collective Reprazent. His debut album, Memoryhouse, was recorded with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, but its impact was at first so limited that, famously, the record was out of print by the time he released its follow-up, 2004’s The Blue Notebooks. It wasn’t until its re-release in 2014 that critics like The Independent’s Andy Gill declared it “a landmark work of contemporary classical music”.

With his early recordings, Richter opened a path, albeit inadvertently, that was swiftly followed by others, persuaded that there was no longer a need to maintain a separation between what had previously been considered either exclusively traditional or singularly modern. He’s since gone on to release a further six studio albums, as well as recording multiple soundtracks for film and TV, with his compositions not only enhancing films by directors including Martin Scorsese, Denis Villenueve and Michael Winterbottom, but also TV shows as varied as the BBC’s lauded 2005 documentary, Auschwitz: The Nazis And The Final Solution, and Nosedive, a 2016 episode of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian Black Mirror, directed by Joe Wright. Moreover, Richter has collaborated in other fields, notably installation art, theatre and dance, working alongside Turner Prize nominee Darren Almond, the National Theatre of Scotland and – repeatedly – choreographer Wayne McGregor, currently Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet in London.

Having bridged the divide between electronic and classical music, Richter has achieved something that has altogether altered the musical landscape. VOYAGER: ESSENTIAL MAX RICHTER provides a vital, career-spanning summary of this innovative, inventive composer’s hugely influential work.