Bernd Hänschke was born in Duisburg, Germany. He studied Schulmusik (school music) at the Cologne Academy of Music, while also studying composition with J. Blume and H. U. Humpert.
Whilst working as a teacher he studied for three further years with H. W. Henze in his master-classes in Cologne (1980-83). In this period he modified his compositional style radically, re-starting from scratch.
The list of his works, which often show a strong sense of the theatrical and the scenic, includes every genre: He always reaches out to other art forms, and so it is no coincidence that visual artists like Christof Heyduck and especially Hans Werner Berretz (Ha Webe) seek cooperation with him. This cooperation produced large-scale cyclical works and art videos in which both art forms influence each other.