Klaus Schulze (born 4 August 1947) is a German electronic music composer and musician. He also uses the alias Richard Wahnfried. He was briefly a member of the electronic bands Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel before launching a solo career consisting of more than 60 albums released across five decades.
In 1969, Klaus Schulze was the drummer of one of the early incarnations of Tangerine Dream for their debut album ELECTRONIC MEDITATION (1969). Before 1969 he was a drummer in a band called Psy Free. He met Edgar Froese from Tangerine Dream in the Zodiac Club in Berlin in that time. In 1970 he left this group to form Ash Ra Tempel with Manuel Göttsching and Hartmut Enke. In 1971, he chose again to leave a newly formed group after only one album, this time to mount a solo career. In 1972, Schulze released his debut album IRRLICHT (1972) with only an organ and an altered recording of an orchestra. Despite the lack of synthesizers, this proto-ambient work is regarded as a milestone in electronic music. The follow-up, CYBORG (1973), was similar but added the EMS Synthi A synthesiser.
Since this point, Schulze's career has been most prolific, and he can now claim more than 40 original albums to his name.. Highlights of these include TIMEWIND (1975), MOONDAWN (1976) (his first album to feature the Moog synthesiser), DUNE (1979), and IN BLUE (1995). In 1976, he was drafted by Japanese percussionist and composer Stomu Yamashta to join his short-lived "supergroup" Go, also featuring Steve Winwood, Michael Shrieve, and Al Di Meola. They released two studio albums (GO (1976) and GO TOO (1977)) and one live album (GO LIVE FROM PARIS (1977) recorded in 1976, which went on to become a cult favourite.
In the 1980s Schulze moved from analog to digital instruments, and his work accordingly became less experimental and more accessible. Although the switch to purely digital recording and instruments is audible in the style of DIG IT (1980), it was not until the release of TRANCEFER (1981) that the shift in style became evident.
This newer style can also be found in Schulze's next release AUDENTITY (1983). The predominance of sequencing can also be found in the follow-up live album DZIEKUJE POLAND (1983). Schulze's next studio-based album was ANGST (1984), the soundtrack to the namesake 1983 film. Another highlight of this era was EN=TRANCE (1988).
The album MIDITERRANEAN PADS (1990) marked the beginning of very complex percussion arrangements that continued into the next two decades. With BEYOND RECALL (1991) Schulze started his "sample" period, when he used a wide variety of pre-recorded sounds such as screeching birds and sensuous female moans in his studio albums and live performances. Sampling was such an unpopular diversion that when IN BLUE (1995) without samples it was hailed as a return to form. The decade also saw the release of copious amounts of previously unreleased material, of varying quality, in several limited-edition boxed sets. Some live recordings were discovered on pristine but forgotten reels of tape which had been used to provide echo in concerts.
Recently Schulze began incorporating elements of jazz and classical music, working with more contemporary electronic dance music such as trance, and creating two operas, the second still awaiting release. Also, in 2005 he began re-releasing his classic solo and Wahnfried albums with bonus tracks of unreleased material recorded at roughly the same time as the original works. In the last several years, Schulze has produced albums and staged numerous live appearances with Lisa Gerrard.
With the release of his fortieth album BIG IN JAPAN (2010), Klaus Schulze entered his fifth decade as a solo musician. His next album, SHADOWLANDS (2013), was released in February 2013, quickly to be followed by the release of THE SCHULZE-SCHICKERT SESSION (2013), a rare long-unreleased collaboration from 1975.
Richard Wahnfried, then simply Wahnfried after 1993, is the long-time and only real alias for Klaus Schulze – originally a pseudonym, later an official side project name. Seven albums were released under this name between 1979 and 1997.
The main characteristics of the Wahnfried albums (as opposed to Schulze's regular works) are:
- Often being oriented towards more mainstream genres (some would say "more commercial"), such as rock, dance, techno and trance.
- Always allowing for collaborative and less electronic albums, with known or unknown guest musicians performing along Schulze's synths.
The pseudonym's etymology stems from Schulze's love for Richard Wagner:
- Richard, evidently from Wagner's first name. Richard is also the name of Schulze's first son.
- Wahnfried ("Peace from delusion and/or madness", in German), from the name Wagner gave to his villa in Bayreuth (and where he was later buried).
In his 1975 album TIMEWIND (four years before the first alias use), Schulze had already named a track Wahnfried 1883 (in reference to Wagner's death and burial in his Wahnfried's garden in 1883). The other track on TIEMWIND is called Bayreuth Return. After 1993, the albums are simply credited to Wahnfried, and namedrop Schulze ("featuring Klaus Schulze", "Produced by Klaus Schulze").
Wahnfried is the only known alias of Schulze (albeit on the TRIBUTE TO KLAUS SCHULZE (1998) album, among 10 other artists, Schulze contributed one track barely hidden behind the "Schulzendorfer Groove Orchester" pseudonym).