Born in Santiago de Chile in 1943, he studied composition and orchestral conducting at the National Conservatory of Music in Santiago. A scholarship from the French government enabled him to further complete his training in Paris under the direction of Max Deutsch between 1967 and 1971. In France he continued his musical studies with masters such as Pierre Schaeffer (the creator of ‘concrete music’), Olivier Messiaen (with whom he studied composition) and Pierre Boulez (orchestral conducting).
His interest in electronic music techniques led him to research computer music at Stanford University, thanks to a Guggenheim Fellowship. After settling in Paris (he became a French citizen in 1986), he founded an experimental music studio at the American
Center. For several years he taught music and began to make a name for himself at various contemporary music festivals.
His interest in film music was awakened in 1977 when he met Raúl Ruiz, with whom he collaborated on 46 of his films. Since then, he has composed film music for some thirty directors, including Olivier Assayas, Patricio Guzmán, Benoît Jacquot and Barbet Schroeder, as well as creating the soundtrack for ‘It’s All True’, the film about Orson Welles’ unfinished project in South America.
He is the author of the soundtracks for some 150 films, 26 of which have been selected for the Cannes, Venice, Berlin, San Sebastian and Locarno film festivals. He has also been a jury member at the film festivals of San Sebastian, Valencia, Sao Paulo and Cannes, among others. In 2020 he won the Grand Prix SACEM, which provides recognition for music for the film and audiovisual media in France.