Annette Focks was born in Thuine, Lower Saxony, and grew up in Lingen/Ems. At four years old, she learned to read music in early music lessons. At five, she had piano lessons. Later, she added organ, trumpet and drums. She started composing at the age of ten. Before she finished school, she passed the D- and C-organist exams. At 15, she was employed as an organist and choir mistress by the Johannesgemeinde Lingen.
After taking her Abitur exams, she studied at the university of music in Cologne from 1985 to 1993. Her major was Piano, but she also took lessons in Composition, Trumpet, Drums, Singing, Jazz Arrangements, Musical, Orchestration and Conducting. In addition to this, she took private lessons, among others in Big Band Arrangement. Annette Focks was active in many bands during this time: She sang, played many instruments and composed songs in a range from pop to jazz to rock and punk music. She recorded two albums with the band "Die Weissen Männer".
When producing the music for the final clip of a film student, she was inspired by the interaction of picture and sound. Film music became her new professional goal. In 1994/95, she received scholarships from the European Biennial for Music, took various classes, among others with Oscar-laureate sound designer Randy Thom ("Forrest Gump"). She passed the entrance examinations for the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg in 1995, but ended up studying film and TV composition at the university for theatre and music in Munich. She completed these studies in 1998 with honours. A workshop with Hollywood orchestrator Steven Scott Smalley ("Batman") further completed her wide-spread and comprehensive training. Since the mid-1990s, Annette Focks has put music to more than 70 movies.
Her range covers emotional drama with warm orchestra sounds ("John Rabe", 2009) as well as colourfully playful animation film music ("The Trip to Panama", 2006) and jazzy big band sound ("Runaway horse", 2007), or action soundtracks with Zulu singing and ethnic percussion ("The three investigators??? – The Secret of Skeleton Island", 2007).
Sometimes, she used a bright sound pallet with a large orchestra, choir, old flutes, viola da gamba and electronic grooves ("Krabat", 2008), at other times, she composed for a string quartet only ("The architect", 2009). She adds a transparent touch to comedy ("Als Großvater Rita Hayworth liebte", 1999) and solemn cello soli on serious contemporary materials ("Marcel Reich Ranicki: My life", 2009).
She has a good hand for fresh catchy tunes ("Windstorm", 2013, "The Wild Chicks", 2005). A spectacular piano concert was performed for "Four Minutes" (2006). Annette Focks also composes for TV productions by Rainer Kaufmann, Dagmar Hirtz, Vivian Naefe and Markus Imboden. She was the music designer for many episodes of the award-winning detective series "Bella Block" and all 26 episodes of the Janosch cartoon series "Papa Lion and the seven happy children". With her film music for "Malunde", "Jungle Child" and "Dreiviertelmond", she proves that she is able to include foreign cultures in her film music as well.
Since 2008, Annette Focks has increasingly been composing music for international movies. In 2012, she wrote the award-winning music for the Swedish-Norwegian film "Simon" (original title: "Simon och ekarna"). In 2013, she first cooperated with Oscar-laureate Bille August for the movie "Night Train to Lisbon", in which award-winning actors and Oscar laureates such as Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Christopher Lee and Martina Gedeck ensure a high-quality international cast. Currently her music appears in international movies like „The Bloom of Yesterday“ by Chris Kraus, „The divine Order“ by Petra Volpe and 55 Steps by Bille August with an international cast of stars such as Hillary Swank, Helen Bonham Carter and Jeffrey Tambor.
Annette Focks received the Deutscher Fernsehpreis for the best music for five movies in 2005 (e.g. "Marias letzte Reise", "Die Kirschenkönigin","Bella Block"). She was a candidate for the 2007 European Film Award ("Four Minutes"). At the international music and cinema festival in Auxerre, she received the special jury award (Grand Prix spécial du Jury) from the hands of film music legend John Barry. In 2008 and 2009, she was nominated for the Deutscher Filmpreis ("Runaway Horse" and "Krabat", respectively). The film music for "Four Minutes" brought her the "Premio la X 102 a la Mejor Música" at the "10.ma Muestra International De Cine De Santo Domingo, República Dominicana" in 2008. Her music for "Poll" received the "Teatro Politeama di Catanzaro" prize at the "Festival Internazionale Del Film Di Roma" for the "Best film music" and was nominated for the Preis der Deutschen Filmkritik in 2010. In 2012, a nomination for the Swedish film award "Guldbagge" in the category best Music was added for the movie "Simon & The Oaks", before Annette Focks received the "Gema-Autorenpreis" for her work as a film composer in 2013.
In addition to her rich work for cinema and TV, Annette Focks composes concerts for orchestra and chamber music ensembles. Her cello concert "A musical letter without words", ordered for the Mozart festival Augsburg, was first played on stage in May 2008 by Munich soloist Anja Lechner and the Bayerische Kammerphilhamonie under David Stern. In 2011, she was charged by the WDR radio orchestra to compose the music for Janosch's story "Onkel Poppoff kann auf Bäume fliegen" for speakers and a large orchestra (first played in February 2012). By order of the cappella academica Annette Focks wrote the piece "Novem" for large orchestra op.28 in 2015. The premiere took place in January 2016 under the direction of Christiane Silber at the "Konzerthaus am Gendarmenmarkt“ in Berlin.