26 February: Tribute to Oskar Sala

OV Digital Desk
3 Min Read
Oskar Sala

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Oskar Sala (18 July 1910 – 26 February 2002) was a German composer and a pioneer of electronic music. He played an instrument called the Trautonium, an early form of electronic synthesizer.

Life and Career

Oskar Sala was born on July 18, 1910, in Greiz, Germany. He displayed a passion for music from an early age and studied piano, organ, and music theory. Sala attended the Musikhochschule in Berlin, where he trained as a composer and music theorist.

Sala’s career took a significant turn when he encountered the Trautonium, an electronic instrument invented by Friedrich Trautwein in the 1920s. Fascinated by its possibilities, Sala became Trautwein’s assistant and dedicated himself to mastering the instrument. He refined its design and expanded its capabilities, making it more versatile and expressive.

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In the 1930s, Sala started performing on the Trautonium, captivating audiences with his unique and innovative approach to music. He explored new sonic possibilities and developed a distinct musical language that combined traditional composition techniques with the unique sounds of the Trautonium.

Sala’s most notable work came in collaboration with film director Alfred Hitchcock. In 1960, he composed the eerie and iconic soundtrack for Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” using the Trautonium. Sala’s composition added an atmospheric and otherworldly quality to the film, contributing to its suspenseful atmosphere.

Oskar Sala passed away on February 26, 2002, in Berlin, Germany, at the age of 91.

Award and Legacy

His contributions to electronic music and his mastery of the Trautonium left a lasting impact on the field. Sala’s work influenced subsequent generations of electronic music composers and contributed to the development of the genre.

Sala received several awards for his work—he gave many interviews, met numerous artists and was honored in radio broadcasts and movies. In 1995, he donated his original mixture-trautonium to the German Museum for Contemporary Technology.

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Sala also built the Quartett-Trautonium, Concert Trautonium and the Volkstrautonium. His efforts in electronic music opened the field of subharmonics. With his dedication and creative energy, he became a one-man orchestra.

Today, Oskar Sala is remembered as a pioneer and visionary in the field of electronic music. His exploration of sound and his innovative use of the Trautonium paved the way for future advancements in electronic music technology and composition. His compositions and performances continue to inspire musicians and composers interested in pushing the boundaries of sound.

On 18 July 2022, Google celebrated Oskar Sala’s 112th birthday with a doodle.

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