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Synthesiser pioneer Peter Zinovieff dies, aged 88

The EMS founder built instruments used by Kraftwerk, Soulwax, David Bowie and more

The synthesiser pioneer Peter Zinovieff has died, aged 88. According to a report in The Guardian, the Russian-British founder of benchmark-setting brand EMS suffered a fall in his Cambridge, UK home, earlier this month and had been hospitalised for ten days. 

Iconic equipment including the VCS3, Synthi AKS and Synthi 100 are among Zinovieff's creations, with his instruments used by electronic acts including Kraftwerk and Soulwax. David Bowie and Pink Floyd were also fans. News of his death was followed by an outpouring of tributes on social media. 

"Peter Zinovieff passed away last night. Thank you Peter, the father of the VCS3 and the AKS, I owe you so much," world-famous electronic composer Jean-Michel Jarre tweeted.


"RIP Peter Zinovieff. Terrible news. Peter was a true original. I spent a day with him once, learning about synthesizers at his house in Cambridge. I interviewed him, we ate lunch, and his lovely wife gave me a tour of the town. He had an incredible life story, & was so funny too," posted the arts critic and journalist Geeta Dayal. 

Zinovieff was often referred to as the British Bob Moog, but despite the level of respect afforded him and his company, EMS would fold after just ten years in the business, ceasing trading in 1979. Nevertheless, the firm's contribution to computer-controlled synthesis and sequencing cannot be understated. In addition to designing instruments, Zinovieff was also a composer and had collaborated with a number of groundbreaking musicians such as Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson of BBC Radiophonic Workshop, housed at the broadcaster's soon-to-be-closed Maida Vale Studios in London.