Peter Zinovieff, the British composer and hugely influential synthesizer pioneer who co-founded the early electronic music company Electronic Music Studios (EMS), has died at the age of 88. As The Guardian reports, Zinovieff had suffered a fall at home earlier this month and had been in hospital for 10 days.
Zinovieff was born in London in 1933 and attended Oxford University, where he studied geology and dabbled in experimental music before pursuing his hobby professionally. In the 1960s, together with Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson of the Radiophonic Workshop, he was part of Unit Delta Plus, a collective creating and promoting electronic music. He began developing synthesizers and founded EMS in 1969 with Tristram Cary and David Cockerell. The company was behind instruments such as the VCS3, Synthi 100, and Synthi AKS, which were used on records by numerous prominent electronic and rock artists including Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, David Bowie, King Crimson, The Who, Brian Eno, composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and many others. EMS went bankrupt in 1979 before being revived by former employee Robin Wood.
Zinovieff spent the 1980s and 90s mostly away from music, working in graphic design and teaching. He returned to composition in 2010 and would go on to collaborate with artists including violinist Aisha Orazbayeva, cellist Lucy Railton, and poet Katrina Porteous. A retrospective collection covering Zinovieff’s work during the EMS era titled Electronic Calendar was compiled by musician Pete Kember and issued in 2015. That same year, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by Anglia Ruskin University.
With a heavy heart, I am sorry to confirm the death on Wednesday evening of Peter Zinovieff, composer, founder of EMS, and pioneer of computer music in the UK. He was 88, and had been in hospital for 10 days following a fall at his home. pic.twitter.com/pS10HkyM2x
— James Gardner (@JEGcomposer) June 26, 2021