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R.I.P. Klaus Schulze, German Electronic Music Pioneer Dead at 74

The composer released over 60 albums and worked with Tangerine Dream and Hans Zimmer

Klaus Schulze death
Klaus Schulze, photo by National Jazz Archive/Heritage Images/Getty Images
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    Electronic music composer Klaus Schulze has died at the age of 74.

    According to a statement, Schulze passed away on Tuesday, April 26th. He had been suffering from an undisclosed illness, but his death was described as “sudden” by Frank Uhle, the managing director of his record label, SPV.

    “We were shocked and saddened to hear the news of Klaus Schulze’s sudden death,” Uhle said in a statement. “We lose and will miss a good personal friend – 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.”

    A pioneer of the krautrock and techno genres, the German-born musician released more than 60 albums over his five decade career. He was also an early member of Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel, and collaborated with the likes of Steve Winwood, Michael Shrieve, Ernst Fuchs, Rainer Bloss, and Lisa Gerrard. Most recently, he worked with Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack to Dune.

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    In an interview with Electronic Musician in 2018, Schulze spoke about his early beginnings and attraction to the electronic genre. “Before I joined Psy Free and Ash Ra Tempel as a drummer, I played electric guitar. But even that I did in my very own way,” he recounted. “I had the instrument lying on the floor and treated it with all kinds of bottleneck-type devices: metal tubes, copper plates, and whatnot. I did that because to me the sounds that were generated mattered more than the actual musical notes or chords. That was electronic music already, somehow.”

    “Drums I had always loved, and had started playing every now and then. It felt natural to do the switch; it was fun to play,” he added. “And it was another natural progression after the drum phase to pick up synthesizers when they became available, as they gave me even more musical, or should I say sonic, freedom to follow my vision. Sound-wise, anything I could dream of became possible over time, so of course, I then stuck with the synthesizer in all its various forms and variations.”

    Schulze was also known for his constant desire to explore new sounds, and had little interest in revisiting his earlier works. “The past is gone, you cannot change it. And Klaus is very aware of his music being a part of this history,” biographer Olaf Lux explained in a recent interview. That’s why he always refuses to do reworks or remakes of his albums. [His debut album] Irrlicht was made without a synthesizer, just some old organ and a broken amplifier. And it is brilliant as it is. As are all his other works, they belong in that time period. For him, his albums are his children – there are no good and bad. I think Klaus is a man of the present and the future, he doesn’t think a lot about the past. Fans do this, artists not so much.”

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    Earlier this month, Schulze announced his latest solo album, Deus Arrakis, which had been scheduled for release on June 10th.

     

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