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The second important studio for electronic music in Europe was built in Germany, in Cologne (the first was in France). It was founded – October 18, 1951 - in a radio studio belonging to the NordwestDeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), later to be called Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) by Herbert Eimert in 1952. Where the French were working with Musique Concrête, the Germans were more directed to the use of pure electronic sounds or synthetically produced timbres. This basic idea came from the book written way back by Hermann from Helmholtz: "On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music" (1863). This choice would influence many composers and groups even in the far future.
Actually the start of the studios was two years earlier. Werner Meyer-Eppler – scientist - and Robert Beyer – music composer – took the initiative to start a place to create new sounds. Beyer introduced Eppler to Herbert Eimert, musical director of the broadcasting organisation. Eimert became the director of the studio for Elektronische Musik as it was named.
The studio contained two electric instruments (Melochord and Trautonium) and sound generators and oscillators which were left by the Americans after the war. The tools were simple, not to say elementary.
Soon after the start, Karlheinz Stockhausen returned from the French studio and started working on his new compositions - Studien - in his hometown.
The studio attracted all kinds of composers. Between the start and 1958 you could find not only Stockhausen in the studios, but also Karel Goeyvaerts, Györgi Ligeti, Henri Pousseur and Gottfried Michael Koenig as well as many others.

Although the success was small, seen in the spirit of time, another studio was built in Munich by the Siemens Corporation, it was a second Studio für Elektronische Musik. The reason for the creation of this studio lay in a movie. Siemens made an evening long color (!) documentary named “Impuls unsere Zeit”. They discovered that the normal(?) music didn’t fit with this movie, they needed technical music. Young composer Josef Anton Riedl got the job to create the music. Under guidance of technicians Peter Schaaf and others a studio was built so Riedl could create the right music. The job was done in 1959 and the movie was completed. The sound was so new and surprising that it attracted all kinds of composers like Pierre Boulez and John Cage but also Kagel who used to work in the Cologne Studio. The studio functioned until 1973. After that it was simply forgotten. After twenty years unused (!) it was given to the Deutscher Museum in 1993. From 1994 onwards it could be seen there.

A third German studio was built in Berlin – 1962 - by East German National Radio (RFZ): Experimentalstudio für Künstliche Klang and Gerauscherzeugung; Laboratorium für Akustisch-Musikalische Grenzprobleme. (Experimental studio for artificial sound and noise; laboratory for acoustic-musical border problems – meant that the border between Berlin and the Russian occupied zone or musical bounds is unclear). The studio never took off in the way it was intended. Just a few compostions came from this studio: Der faule Zauberer (Kurth, 1963); Amarillo Luna (Kubiczek, 1963); Quartet für elektronische Klänge (Wehding, 1963); Variationen (Hohensee, 1965); Zoologischer Garten (Rzewski, 1965). But the studio had an important place in the starting of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.
From 1961-1974 a new group named Arbeitskreis für elektronische Musik used the studio belonging to the Technical University to create their version of music. As history records: all depending on their various characters. The groups existed of director Fritz Winckel, engineer Manfred Krause, composer Boris Blacher and Tonmeister (sound engineer) Rüdiger Rüfer. The studio still exists today.

Two German musicians, Konrad Boehmer and Gottfried Michael Koenig have a special connection with the Netherlands. Konrad Boehmer was born in Berlin and studied with Koenig. He worked at WDR studios for and with Bruno Maderna and Luigi Nono. In the period 1966-1968 he worked at the Institute of Sonology (in the Netherlands) and co-founded STEIM in1972. From 1994 onwards he became director of the Institute of Sonology. Boehmer worked with tape and classical instruments as well as computers.
Gottfried Michael Koenig also worked at WDR Studios; there he helped Stockhausen with ‘Gesang der Jünglinge’ and ‘Kontakte’. After that he taught radio drama and composition. He also studied computer programming. In the period 1964-1986 he was director of the Institute of Sonology. Koenig was especially interested in the interaction of composition versus technical media. His other interest lay in using computers, a field in which he was a pioneer. In 1961 he was awarded the incentive price of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and in 1987 he won the Matthijs Vermeulen Prijs (Amsterdam) for his complete work.

Until the late fifites the studios were about the only place to work on compositions, but things were changing. The development of the tape-deck made live performances possible. Around the late fifties more and more composers are working in all kinds of venues. Maurico Kagel, also working in the WDR Studio, and living in Cologne, wrote Transición II for four musicians; two piano players, the other two were tape operators. Stockhausen wrote Solo (1965) for a single performer and tape recorder. By using a variable kind of delay the performer could play a sort of duet with his own playing. More and more studios were left empty in favour of live electronics.
Parallel to this development were the live performances of rock groups. In the early sixties more and more pop- or rock groups played live before and audience. The tools needed for an ever louder sound were soon developed., thus making more things possible on stage. In Germany the Beatles, Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd were important corner stones for a new kind of electronic music.

So, we have the studios for electronic music, which are mostly empty because of the growth in live performance electronic musics, we also have young people growing up in a country that would have nothing to do with the war years before and also a new kind of music spreading around like an ink stain. German’s were looking for something really new, not the old folks like Schönberg and Stockhausen, but something really new. Their influences came from experimental pop groups like Pink Floyd (especially their album Ummagumma which is loaded with electronics) and Frank Zappa who showed them that music could be a collage of all styles of music, but also experimented a lot with electronics. In Berlin Thomas Kessler had his studio for electronic music and experimented a great deal. Amongst his pupils were Klaus Schulze and Edgard Froese. They started Tangerine Dream and soon learned that almost anyhing was possible. Schulze abandoned normal instruments in favour of new developed synthesizers and electronics and started his own solo career. Edgard Froese teamed up with Chris Franke and others and formed a new version Tangerine Dream, but still with drums and guitar sounds.
Around the same time in Düsseldorf Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider started their group: Organisation, later to be renamed as Kraftwerk. Just as Schulze had done before they gave up all classical instruments in favour of electronics and later on laptops.
Also experimenting with electronics in combination with conventional instruments, were groups such as Can (from Cologne and some of them pupils of Stockhausen), Faust, Neu!, Harmonia and Cluster. Technicians and producers as Conny Plank, Dieter Dierks and Conrad Schnitzler had a huge influence on lots of the musical creations.
Most successful were/are Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. Klaus Schulze is the most constant factor using synthesizers only. Even nowadays hestill produces very interesting and listenable music which is never dull, old or obsolete. Tangerine Dream had a hugely succesful time in the early seventies, but somehow got a little bit off the straight and narrow path and delved more into film music and what you could call popular electronics. Kraftwerk are the minimalists in this group, using as little as possible. They used in the main only laptops and created an electronic sound, sometimes the group members are replaced with working robots. They still perform, but the adventure of their early records has gone. Danceable electronics were quite new in those days.

Nevertheless: electronic music in Germany is a long story, from obscure to popular, from noise to danceable. It is worth delving into.

WDR Studio


Siemens Studio


Studio in Berlin


Karlheinz Stockhausen at work in WDR Studio


Stockhausen with EMS at WDR


Klaus Schulze with the 'big' Moog and early computer


Chris Franke of Tangerine Dream with his Moog


Kraftwerk - live - no instruments visible


Kraftwerk- live - robots performing the music


Harmonia