Composers / U. KUTSCHERA

Meet Composer U. Kutschera: His education, his career, his credits and his current activities. Not only natural science, but also music fascinated him at an early age. Ulrich had his first piano lessons when he was nine years old. The conservative, Mozart-loving teacher hired by his parents repeatedly complained that his gifted pupil did not want to play what was written down by Haydn, Clementi and other classical composers.

Composer ♦ Musician 

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Ulrich Kutschera (born 1955 in Freiburg i. Br., Germany) is a Professor of Biology at the University of Kassel (Germany) and a Visiting Scientist in Stanford, California (USA). He is the author of ca. 250 scientific publications and ten books.

However, not only natural science, but also music fascinated him at an early age. Ulrich had his first piano lessons when he was nine years old. The conservative, Mozart-loving teacher hired by his parents repeatedly complained that his gifted pupil did not want to play what was written down by Haydn, Clementi and other classical composers. Instead, the young pianist played what he liked, mostly own variations on the themes provided by the piano teacher via his narrow selection of classical music. As a result, Ulrich developed improvisational skills at the age of ca. 12. After a four-year-period of piano instructions, he did not want to continue to reproduce the music created by other composers, and, as a consequence, started to play the guitar.

When he was ca. 14 years old, his strong interest in classical (and popular) music became overshadowed by another passion: Ulrich began to collect fish, lizards, snakes, frogs and other living creatures from natural habitats in the outskirts of the Black Forest (Freiburg/Herdern), where he lived with his parents. He cultivated these living beings in aqua-terraria and took notes about his collections, as well as the biology and reproductive behaviour of these wild animals. Hence, his career as a biologist can be traced back to those days.

At the age of 19, Ulrich took advanced classical piano lessons to hone his skills as a keyboard player and the ability to improvise, but his fascination of natural science was again stronger than his desire to become a professional musician. As a compromise, he studied, in addition to his majors (Biology and Chemistry), the Theory of Harmony in the Department of Music (Musikwissenschaftliches Seminar) at the University of Freiburg (1981/82), so that he was better able to write down and refine his piano improvisations.

In 1978, at the age of 23, he met Peter Fischer, who just had set up his first custom-build sound synthesizer – a copy of the then-popular Minimoog, a monophonic analog synthesizer. Subsequently, Fischer and Kutschera recorded many of Ulrich’s improvised compositions and arranged them for piano and synthesizers (they did not use sequencers, which were very popular during the 1980s). From April to September 1983, the duo Peter Fischer/Ulrich (Uli) Kutschera produced, in Fischer’s private recording studio (Freiburg i. Br.), an album that contained 6 original tracks, most of them composed and performed by Kutschera (Grand piano and keyboards). Under the title Hirudo: The First Incarnation, the duo released a ca. 41 min-vinyl record that was rather successful. Within one year, they sold ca. 500 LPs, most of them in the USA.

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The duo separated after Kutschera had earned his Ph.D. in the Biology Department of the University of Freiburg; he left Germany to settle down in Stanford/California (USA), where he started his career as an independent scientist (subject areas: plant physiology and evolutionary biology). However, in his spare time, Kutschera continued to play the piano and create/write down his own music.

Between 2001 and 2008, Fischer and Kutschera met regularly in Freiburg to record piano & synth-music, and released a second album (on CD), entitled Twenty Years Later(2005). In 2015, Kutschera started a cooperation with Roman Beilharz, and supplemented/extended a collection of 30 of his compositions; a few of them were co-written with Fischer and other musicians from Freiburg. These remastered, definitive versions, inclusive of Kutschera’s Concerto for Piano & Synthetic Orchestra in c-minor, will be released on Compact Discs (U. Kutschera, Piano & Synth-Music, Vols. 1 to 4) as follows:

  • The First Incarnation (1983/2017), Tracks 1 to 6, 42.40 min
  • Twenty Years Later (2005/2016), Tracks 1 to 7, 42.40 min
  • San Francisco Bay (2008/2015), Tracks 1 to 8, 43.11 min
  • Black Forest Images (2008/2016), Tracks 1 to 9, 42.12 min

The CDs are supplemented by a booklet that contains original (unpublished) paintings by the artist Alfred Kutschera (1928–2004) to characterize each composition visually. This painter (Ulrich’s father) also provided splendid cover illustrations for this series of CDs that may be labelled as Piano/e-music in the style of what is known as “New Classics”.

“Some splendid grand piano-playing by Kutschera acts as the focal point for most of the tracks on Incarnation (…) has succeeded in creating what is quite probably the most sensitive synth album of 1984 so far”

Dan Goldstein, Electronics & Music Maker

U.Kutschera – San Francisco Bay
U.Kutschera – Ocean Beach
U.Kutschera – Lone Cypress