Peter Zinovieff, electronic music composer who built one of the first mainstream synthesizers – obituary



Peter and Ian were raised by their paternal grandparents in Guildford during the war, and later in Sussex by their father, who died in a train wreck in 1951. Peter recalled playing “thunderous duets” with his grandmother. -mother at the piano and loved to build DIY Crystal Radios and Transmitters.

From Guildford Grammar School, then Gordonstoun, Peter went to University College, Oxford, where he eventually received a doctorate in geology under the supervision of geologist, explorer and mountaineer Lawrence Wager. He also developed his interest in experimental music, forming his own group, Biscuit Tin, which performed using discarded everyday objects.

He spent short periods as an exploration geologist in Cyprus and Pakistan, but in 1960 he married Victoria Heber-Percy, daughter of Robert Heber-Percy (known for much of his life as “The mad boy”). As she had little interest in the itinerant life of a geologist’s wife, he entered the Air Ministry as a mathematician, but soon gave up to devote himself to experimental music.

In the early 1960s he set up a studio in the garden shed of his home in Putney with old naval equipment including oscillators and amplifiers, then bought a computer, the DEC PDP-8, a primitive craft. by modern standards, for which he raised the then massive sum of £ 4,000 by selling (with his wife’s consent) a “ridiculous tiara, made of turquoise and pearls” given to him by his father.


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