Interview:: The Grand Budapest Hotel music supervisor Randall Poster

March 24th 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel Soundtrack

“Why do you want to be a lobby boy?”

“Who wouldn’t at the Grand Budapest, sir?”

Eccentrics, lunatics and recluses gather at the pink pastel coloured hotel that looks like a wedding-cake perched on the alpine mountains.

Take a peep behind closed hotel doors into a fictional European town filled with grandeur and quirkiness. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a blast to watch and had me giggling throughout.

Filmmaker Wes Anderson is renowned for his meticulous style and eye for detail. Just see how perfectly symmetrical everything is! No rule of thirds for Anderson. Everything is planned perfectly, including the soundtrack. Music supervisor Randall Poster has worked with Anderson since his 1998 film Rushmore.

With the help from Poster and French composer Alenxandre Desplat, Anderson created an original soundtrack labeled as “Zubrowkian”.

“Something similar (Alexandre’s musical voice is always unmistakable) but nevertheless not quite like anything else,” Anderson writes on the soundtrack.

You will find Zauerli (Swiss yodeling), Cymbalom (variation of the hammer-dulcimer found in Hungarian/Romani folk music), and the Balalaika (three stringed Russian form of the mandolin).

We spoke to Randall Poster about the creation of the soundtrack for The Grand Budapest Hotel.


Gemma Piali: What was involved in being a music supervisor for The Grand Budapest Hotel?

Randall Poster: A musical supervisor helps the film director imagine and execute a musical vision. I am the person that the director talks to about the music. Wes and I have been working together for a long time and this is the eighth project we have done. My primary task was to research and explore the various mid twentieth century and Mittel European music voices that might potentially tell the story, and then work to make that come to life.

The Grand Budapest Hotel soundtrack is an original musical score, rather than cherry picking songs from different artists. How did the process change?

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a movie with more original score than any other film we have worked on. We just had to work together to build this musical element. Once we landed on a primary voice, then Alexandre Desplat created music that was filtered through this prism.

Was there are particular musical feeling you tried to portray in The Grand Budapest Hotel? 

Wes had this notion of what is the enduring essential humanity that we can render with music. We looked to folk music as a resource, a music that is built through generations and is the sound of the Europe.

The main character of the film, M. Gustave (played by Ralph Fiennes) acts as a refined gentleman at times, and at others he is stealing, chasing murderers and sleeping around. How was his character enforced through music? 

I think that we tried to reflect his old world commitment. We did need to license music in this film, as there is a Behrend piece that is different to the other folk songs and speaks to Gustave’s old world dignity.


The Grand Budapest Hotel - 64th Berlin Film Festival

After working with Anderson for so many years, what do you enjoy about his directing style?

There are aspects of film making that Wes manages with such great skill and passion. The mere fact that I have been involved in so many projects with Wes and the way Wes works with same people over and over again, there is a great communal spirit and commitment for all of us to fill his unique vision.  

Is there a musical moment from your career that really connected to you?

Right now, having watched the film four times in the last week, that sequence where the hero tells us “So I began my career at the Grand Budapest Hotel” as he walks us through the lessons from Gustave about being the best lobby boy. It is the moment I am most proud of from the film.

What do you always keep in mind when working on a soundtrack for a film?

To be open-minded and to let the film take you musically where it wants to go, not to force the music in there.

You must have a gigantic music library. How do you keep everything in order so you can easily find what you are looking for? 

If you have any ideas, let me know! It is a mess. I thankfully have a library to keep things a little organised but it is everywhere at the moment.

You have worked on an extensive range of films from Skyfall to the Hangover and The Wolf of Wall Street, all with very different soundtracks. How do you jump from movie to movie? 

It is nice to be able to eat at the musical buffet and musically refresh yourself with different types of music. I find the counter point really energises me and refreshes my sensibility.

If you had a soundtrack to your life, what songs would you include?

I am currently captivated by the album Lo-Fang has released. It is so right at the moment and I am living according the rhythms.


The Grand Budapest Hotel is in cinemas April 10. The soundtrack is out now. 



Want to get in ahead of the crowd? Catch an exclusive preview screening for FBi supporters at Dendy Newtown on Wednesday April 9 at 6:30pm.

For your chance to win a double pass email with The Grand Budapest Hotel in the subject heading. Don’t forget to include your FBi supporter number.

Not an FBi Supporter? Wishing you were? Join the family here!



Read more from FBi Radio