Hakenberg attended the conservatories of Düsseldorf and Cologne where he studied composition with Hans Werner Henze. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University where he studied with Bernard Rands and Mario Davidovsky. Other grants and fellowships brought him to the summer festivals in Tanglewood (where he studied with Oliver Knussen on a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship), Aspen (where he studied with John Harbison), and Fontainebleau (where he studied with Betsy Jolas), to the artist colonies The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, and the Atelierhaus Worpswede in Lower Saxony. MeetTheComposer, the Alaska State Council on the Arts, various Alaskan arts and humanities councils, and the Endowments for the Arts in North-Rhine Westfalia and Lower Saxony have directly sponsored his work repeatedly.
Hakenberg is a founder of the Alaskan contemporary music organization "CrossSound", which won a 2002 ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, and in 2005 received an NEA Creativity Grant for a program including Hakenberg's pansori Klanott and the Land Otter People on an Alaskan native story. Also in 2005 Hakenberg is beginning a term as Composer in Residence with the Seattle based Third Eye Brass. Films by Theo Lipfert with scores by Stefan Hakenberg, The Displacement Map and Taubman Sucks, won awards at festivals in Kansas City, Honolulu, at Portland's Northwest Filmfestival in Oregon, and three screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival among many more.
Hakenberg's music is published by Augemus Musikverlag, Bochum, Germany and Tonos Musikverlag, Darmstadt, Germany. Recordings are available on the Capstone Records label, Brooklyn, New York.more