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28 April 2022

Klaus Schulze, Electronic Music Pioneer, Dies Aged 74

Klaus Schulze
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Klaus Schulze, the pioneering German electronic composer, has died aged 74, his representatives confirmed in a statement. Schulze died Tuesday (26 April) following a long illness.

Frank Uhle, the managing director of Schulze’s record label, SPV, wrote that while Schulze had been ill, his death was “sudden.” “We lose and will miss a good personal friend,” Uhle wrote in his statement. “One of the most influential and important composers of electronic music—a man of conviction and an exceptional artist. Our thoughts in this hour are with his wife, sons and family. His always cheerful nature, his innovative spirit and his impressive body of work remain indelibly rooted in our memories.”

Schulze was born in Berlin in 1947. By the 60s he was playing drums, bass, and guitar for a number of bands in Germany. From the late 60s to early 70s he had short stints drumming with Psy Free, Tangerine Dream, and Ash Ra Tempel before launching a five-decade solo career, which saw him release dozens of albums (sometimes under the alias Richard Wahnfried) and collaborate with everyone from Lisa Gerrard to Pete Namlook to Alphaville. In 1973 and 1974, he was a member of the krautrock supergroup the Cosmic Jokers, reuniting him with Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Göttsching. Another supergroup called Go followed in the mid-70s, featuring Schulze plus Stomu Yamashta, Steve Winwood, Al Di Meola, and Michael Shrieve.

Schulze’s work with synthesizers and sequencers was especially influential. He was one of the primary architects of a droning, pulsing, strobing kind of synth-based music that would prove hugely influential on both electronic dance music and film soundtracks. One of his ongoing fascinations was Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune; he named an album after the book in 1979 and collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the score for last year’s Denis Villeneuve-helmed film adaptation. His next album, Deus Arrakis, set for release on 10 June, is also inspired by Dune.

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