Oskar Sala:

oskar sala

Oskar Sala was born on 18 July 1910 in Greiz (Thuringia).
In his youth he was a talented pianist and played 1927 for the first time live as soloplayer the 2. Piano concert of Beethoven in Greiz on the stage of the Tivoli theatre. After finishing matriculation he went to Berlin around 1929 to study composition by Paul Hindemith. Paul Hindemith introduced Oskar Sala to Dr. Ing. Friedrich Trautwein, which had worked on first demonstratable preliminary studies for an electronic musical instrument, at the 'Rundfunkversuchstelle' which means radio broadcast testing station . Sala was immediately fascinated by the new instrument with the strange manual. So Sala offered its assistance to Dr. Trautwein for playing and Working om the new musical instrument.

From now on Oskar Sala was inseperable connected with development of and building on Trautoniums. First Trautwein and Sala and a technical assistant did build three instruments, which Hindemith had beeing requested for a new composition. On June 20th 1930 - three trautoniums had been finished - the first electronic concert with a lecture by Trautwein, sound examples at Salas instrument and with the premiere of the "7 Triostuecke für 3 Trautonien" from Paul Hindemith took place in the large concert hall of the 'Berliner Musikhochschule' the Berlin college of music. Hindemith played the upper voice, the piano professor Rudolf Schmidt the bass voice and Oskar Sala the central voice. These pieces were recorded again in 1977 by Mr. Sala playing all three parts in playback for longplayer and were released again on CD in 1998 by the Erdenklang label.

Together with Trautwein Sala improved technology and sound of the instrument. It succeeded to them on electronic way to imitate the natural vocal generation. Now the inventors had given timbre to the instrument. The fact that Sala studied natural sciences at the University of Berlin from 1932 to 1936 - only for the purpose of developing the Trautonium - may show how seriously Oskar Sala took this instrument. In 1933 Trautwein and Sala developed the Volkstrautonium, which had been built by Telefunken in approx. 80 to 100 pieces, until the manufacturing plants were used for 'much more important' things. For this instrument Sala wrote the 'Trautonium Schule' a little book with essential knowledge on how to handle the Volkstrautonium from start-up, and with the fundamental how to play it.

1935 followed the Rundfunktrautonium, 1938 the Konzerttrautonium, with which he did several concert tours cross Europe.
After the war, from which Oskar Sala scarcely escaped the Russian front, he became an independent musicican and designed between 1948 and 1952 the famous Mixturtrautonium. He received patents in the USA, France and Germany for inventing a new electronic circuit.

 studio sala Since 1953 Sala had composed for the Mixturtrautonium, and founded 1958 its own sound studio in Berlin. Here he set the sound to musical culture movies, industrial movies and features. The highlight in popular view is surely the sound of the bird voices in Alfred Hitchcocks 'The Birds' 1962. However, the win of the Grand Prix in Rouen in 1960 seemed to mean exactly as much to him. Here he set to sound a Industrial Movie made by Mannesmann 'Stahl, Thema mit Variationen' which means 'steel, topic with variations', which differed nevertheless strongly from Movies at that time.
Like everything Sala did he also elaborated an unbelievable perfection on that, by synchronizing the tone directly to the picture - speak: the film producer got a finished product, what was well known in a short and gave him some orders. Soundtracks for NASA, for the German 'Edgar Wallace' series and still much more followed. He received many honors for his work, i.e. the movie reel in gold in 1987.

A great disadvantage of the ever more complex becoming Mixturtrautonium was that it was no longer transportable. Thus there were also no more concerts. Public appearances were limited to film and tape demonstrations, as well as lectures.
At one of these lectures, at the beginning of the 1980's, there were 3 professors from the 'Fachhochschule der Deutschen Bundespost' in the auditory a college were communications technology was teached. These 3 professors - Hans Joerg Borowicz, Dietmar Rudolph and Helmut Zahn - were impressed in such a way from Oskar Sala and the Trautonium that they offered him to develop and build the instrument (with student diploma works) again with his ideas using modern microelectronics.

sala von hinten

It lasted however until 1988, until Mr. Sala was pleased with the new 'Mixturtrautonium nach Oskar Sala' and also recognized that it was superior to its Tubetrautonium. And in such a way Mr. Sala performed again public on Trautonium at 18th August 1988 in the Berlin Congress Hall for the first time after 30 years. One year later an appearance during the 'Berliner Funkausstellung' followed. This appearance was broadcasted by the SFB radio. Up to its death many of concerts and appearances followed.

Oskar Sala died on Tuesday evening the 26th February 2002 at the age of 91 years in Berlin


Copyright ©Juergen Hiller 2001-2003