Rudolf Haken

Rudolf Haken is director of the new Electric Strings program at the University of Illinois. (For details visit Students may earn Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in electric violin or electric viola in Performance and Literature, Music Education, Music Technology, and blended degrees (partnering with Computer Science, Business, Engineering, Media Studies, and numerous other programs across campus).

Haken is a violist and composer internationally renowned for his creative melding of disparate musical styles and genres. He is particularly known for his work with extended-range violas, appearing in concert on four continents with his Rivinus five-string viola and Wood Viper six-string electric viola. At the University of Illinois he directs the Electric Strings Ensemble and the Hip Hop Collective.

Professor Haken has performed his viola concertos with numerous orchestras in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Performances of his compositions, including numerous commissioned works, have met with great success both in live performance and recordings. In September 2012, violinist Rachel Barton Pine premiered Rudolf Haken’s solo violin work Faust at Chicago’s Beethoven Festival. Pine had commissioned this work from Haken as part of an effort to bring heavy metal influence into solo acoustic violin music. In April 2011, Haken’s Violin Concerto for Stefan Milenkovich was premiered at the NOMUS Festival (Novi Sad, Serbia) and at Kolarac Hall in Belgrade. A Centaur CD of concertos composed by Rudolf Haken was chosen as a 2007 “Critics’ Choice” by American Record Guide. In 2004, WTTW-Chicago produced a video featuring Haken performing his transcriptions of Van Halen and Metallica on a Jensen five-string electric viola. This video was shown frequently in passenger areas at O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago.

In August 2022 Haken will be bringing 22 members of the University of Illinois Electric Strings Ensemble and Hip-Hop Collective to perform and teach at the Bayreuth Young Artists Festival in Germany.

Haken has been a featured performer of contemporary music at conventions of the Shakujii International Orchestra of Tokyo, Japan; HEIMES of Sapporo, Japan; Society of Composers, Inc., Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and American Composer’s Alliance in New York City, as well as in recital at the Studio für neue Musik at Universität Siegen (Germany), Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna), Salle Jacques Brel in Montigny-le-Bretonneux (France), Conservatorio Oficial de Música in Cáceres (Spain), and Yildiz Teknik Üniversitesi in Istanbul, University of York (UK), University of Toronto, and Queens University (Canada). Among Haken’s recordings of contemporary music is a Capstone Records release of viola works of Matthew Davidson.

As a sought-after educator and adjudicator, Professor Haken was invited to Seoul in October 2012 to serve on the international jury for string auditions of the Korean Broadcasting Service Symphony Orchestra.Haken also has served on the faculty of the Festival Internacional de Musica Erudita de Piracicaba (Brazil), Schlern International Chamber Music Festival (Italian Alps), Michigan City Chamber Music Festival (Indiana), Musikalischer Sommer in Ostfriesland (Germany), Hot Springs Music Festival (Arkansas), Interlochen Music Camp (Michigan All-State), Zomeravond Concerten (the Netherlands), Mammoth Lakes Festival (California), Montecito International Music Festival (California), and Quartz Mountain Festival (Oklahoma). He has given master classes internationally, with venues including the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Kookmin and Jungang Universities in South Korea, the Welsh National Academy of Music and Drama, and the Universidade de Caxias do Sul in Brazil. Haken has served as viola professor at West Virginia University, as well as guest violist for the Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera, performing under such renowned conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Sir Neville Marriner. He has performed in London, Beijing, and Shanghai as principal violist of the Sinfonia da Camera, and has toured South Korea with the World Symphony Orchestra. Professor Haken has acted as adjudicator for the Houston Symphony Young Artists, Midwest Young Artists, Missouri-American String Teachers Association, and Chicago Viola Society competitions.

Mr. Haken started his career as a child prodigy. At the age of ten, he conducted his first orchestral works at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (University of Illinois) with the encouragement of Professor Charles DeLaney. As a child, Haken appeared frequently in the US and Europe as composer, conductor, soloist, and chamber musician. In his teenage years, Haken studied composition and piano with Hubert Kessler and viola with Guillermo Perich.

Rudolf Haken’s compositions, recordings, and teaching materials can be found at