BIOGRAPHY & SELECTED CHRONOLOGY
Irmin Schmidt born in May 1937 received a formal musical education and between 1957 and 1967 he studied under modern composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and Ligeti. Between 1962 and 1969 he conducted numerous orchestras including Wiener Sinfoniker, Bochumer Sinfoniker, Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Norddeutscher Rundfunk Hannover and the Dortmunder Ensemble für Neue Musik, which he founded. Schmidt also worked as a musical director at the Stadttheater Aachen and taught Musicals and Chanson at the Bochum stage school. Schmidt also gave numerous new music recitals and was amongst the first German pianists to interpret the work of John Cage. His compositions "Hexapussy" and "Ilgom" were premiered by Radio Stuttgart in 1967 and 1968 respectively. During this period he also composed music for various film and theatre productions.
His classical career was put on hold after a trip to New York in 1966 exposed him to emerging musical forms and ideas that led to him forming CAN in 1968. As the band's keyboard player, Schmidt's contribution to their groundbreaking career and the evolution of electronic music in general is formidable. When CAN was dissolved in 1978 Schmidt, relocated to the south of France where he established a studio and continued to compose and record over 100 film and television scores, a craft he had already become familiar with both before and during his work with CAN. This work is documented on CAN's "Soundtracks" LP (1970) and on his own solo soundtrack compilation, a 3 CD set entitled "Anthology:Soundtracks 1978 - 1993 "both of which are available on Spoon/Mute. His solo soundtrack features his fellow band mates Micael Karoli (guitar) and Jaki Liebezeit (drums).
In 1981 he worked with Bruno Spoerri and released his first solo LP "Toy Planet" followed by "Musk at Dusk" in 1987. Schmidt rejoined his former colleagues for the reunion album, Rite Time (1989) and followed this with another solo album, "Impossible Holidays" (1991).
In 1993, Schmidt was commissioned to write a fantasy opera based on Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. The three act opera, with a libretto by Duncan Fallowell, was premiered at Wuppertal Opera House on November 15 1998 excerpts of which were released as a CD on Spoon/Mute in 2000
Thanks to Gormenghast, he met Kumo (UK musician Jono Podmore), sound engineer, producer and specialist in rhythm programming and immediately saw the potential for improvisational collaboration. They performed as Irmin Schmidt and Kumo for the Can solo projects tour. This project also toured events as diverse as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Sonar in Barcelona and the International Jazz festival in London and all to critical acclaim from their respective audiences. In 2001 Irmin Schmidt and Kumo released "Masters of Confusion" on Spoon/Mute.
Like his fellow CAN bandmates, Irmin Schmidt has been taking a keen interest in the re-mastering of CAN material for both the 2003 CAN DVD release and overseeing the re-mastering of the entire CAN back catalogue for re-release on Spoon/Mute.
June 2004 saw a new production of his Gormenghast opera staged at Völklinger Hütte in Saarbrücken, Germany, a colossal steelworks that is now a UNESCO world heritage site, together with performances at the Grand Theatre Luxembourg.
In 2006 - 2007 he composed ballet music for full orchestra commissioned by the Deutschen Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf. In 2008 the ballet was premiered in Düsseldorf and Duisburg.
This year also saw the release of the new Irmin Schmidt & Kumo album "Axolotl Eyes" (released world wide by Spoon/Mute/Warner/P-Vine) and he wrote the soundtrack to the new Wim Wenders film "Palermo Shooting", which is part of the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival 2008.
1957 - 1964
Studies in Music:
Dortmund Conservatory (Piano and French Horn)
Essen Folkwang Academy (Orchestral conducting: Heinz Dressel, Piano Masterclass: Detlef Kraus, Composition: G. Ligeti)
Darmstadt Summer-school for New Music 1962 & 1963
Mozarteum Salzburg (Orchestral conducting: Istvan Kertesz)
Cologne Music Academy: New Music course (Composition: K.H. Stockhausen, L. Berio, E. Brown and H. Pousseur)
Cologne University: Music ethnology
Awards for Conducting:
Folkwang Leistungs-Preis 1963
1st Prize Mozarteum Salzburg 1964
Bundesauswahl Junger Künstler 1965
1962 - 1969
He conducts numerous orchestral concerts with the Wiener Sinfoniker and Norddeutscher Rundfunk symphony orchestra amongst others, and concert series of contemporary music with the Bochumer Sinfoniker and the Dortmunder Ensemble für Neue Musik which he founded. He performs piano recitals specialising in contemporary music, most noticably bringing the work of John Cage to the German audience.
1966 - 1968
He works as a musical director at the Stadttheater Aachen and teaches musical and chanson singing technique at the Bochum stage school. He also composes music for various film and theatre productions.
His composition Hexapussy premiered in Frankfurt.
His composition Ilgom premiered by Radio Stuttgart.
1968 - 1978
He founds the group Can who he works exclusively with for the next 10 years, releasing 18 albums with extensive international touring. With Can he continues his work for film and television, completing 21 filmscores for directors such as Wim Wenders, Samuel Fuller and Jerzy Skolimowski. In 1971 Can recieves the Goldene Europa award for their score to the German TV series Das Messer and the title song Spoon.
He moves to the south of France, where he sets up his own studio and continues to work as a composer and producer releasing 3 solo albums: Toy Planet (with Bruno Spoerri) 1981, Musk at Dusk 1987, Impossible Holidays 1991, and recording scores for over 70 film and television productions (including the series Rote Erde), and for numerous theatre productions. A triple CD box set Anthology Soundtracks 1995, documents his soundtracks from 1978-1993.
He composes Orchestermusic I-IV commissioned by the city of Hamburg and conducts the orchestra of the Norddeutsche Rundfunk at the premiere in Hamburg.
Under a commission from the Wuppertal Opera House he begins work on the the fantasy-opera Gormenghast, based on Mervyn Peake´s trilogy, libretto by Duncan Fallowell.
15th of November 1998 sees the world premiere of the opera Gormenghast at the Wuppertal Opera House.
February, premiere of Gormenghast at the Musiktheater Gelsenkirchen.
1999 - 2000
He continues writing film scores and performs many concerts in numerous european cities together with Kumo (Jono Podmore: engineer, programmer and sound designer for Gormenghast) as part of Can-Solo-Projects. Work begins on their first album.
After extensive touring in Europe (including the Sonar festival, Barcelona, and the London Jazz Festival) the first Irmin Schmidt and Kumo album Masters of Confusion is released worldwide on Spoon/Mute records in September to unanimous critical praise. Irmin Schmidt and Kumo compose a specially comissioned sound installation Flies, Guys and Choirs for the "elektronic" festival, Barbican Centre, London.
Along with his surviving band-mates receives an Echo lifetime achievement award in Germany.
2003 - 2005
Continues writing film scores and touring with Kumo (France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany).
Oversees remastering of the entire CAN catalogue together with Holger Czukay and Jono Podmore (Kumo) for re-release on Spoon/Mute.
Stages his Gormenghast opera at Völklinger Hütte in Saarbrüken, Germany, and at the Grand Théatre Luxembourg.
2005 - 2006
Continues writing film scores and together with Kumo produces Japanese artist Mito Ichikawa's solo album dot i/o
2006 - 2007
Composes Ballet music for full orchestra commissioned by the Deutschen Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf - La Fermosa choreographed by Youri Vamos.
Completes the second Irmin Schmidt & Kumo album Axolotl Eyes
Composes another 3 soundtracks.
Release of Irmin Schmidt & Kumo Album Axolotl Eyes
Premieres in Düsseldorf and Duisburg of La Fermosa
Composes Filmscore for the new Wim Wenders film Palermo Shooting (official selection Cannes 2008)