Celebrity Obituary

How Did Herbert Deutsch Die? Composer and Music Educator Cause of Death Explained

Synthesizer pioneer passed away last night. He was 90 years old.

Who was Herbert Deutsch?

Herb Deutsch, the trumpeter-pianist-Theremin player-composer-Moog synthesizer co-creator and jazz-inspired improviser. As the first in a series named Giants, Moog Music has created a video interview with this retired professor of Hofstra University, where he taught composition and electronic music.

He's been less frequently acknowledged in the history of the revolution in musical possibilities brought about by physical architecture for generating and processing electronic sound waves than his friend Dr. Robert Moog, West Coast designer Don Buchla, or their precursor Leon Theremin.

Deutsch was there, directing an improvising electro-acoustic ensemble at Manhattan's Town Hall and the Museum of Modern Art sculpture garden, during the mid-'60s explosion of electronic music by such visionaries as Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley and Morton Subotnick, Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock, and Jimi Hendrix.

Herbert Deutsch in connection with R.A. Moog
Herb had a long-standing relationship with Moog Music in Buffalo as well as R.A. Moog Co. He and Bob had an extremely close relationship that lasted their entire lives.

Since the beginning of both organizations, he has been a supporter of the Bob Moog Foundation and the Moogseum.

Herb was a brilliant musician, a long-time instructor, and a pioneer of electronic music. He was also a remarkable person who gained the admiration of everyone he met. Although the Bob Moog Foundation will always preserve his legacy, he will be sorely missed.

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Recordings and Collections

The fact that Deutsch was a jazz lover who was passionate about real-time improvisation, puts the cherry on top of his status as a significant character in 20th-century musical invention and re-conception.

“Jazz Images, a Worksong and Blues,” from 1965—credited as the first piece for a Moog—features bluesy piano and horn parts intertwined with thick and thin electronic lines, unusually lengthy fades, whirling sirens, white noise, delays, and possibly backward tape.

James Baldwin, John Coltrane, and Dr. Martin Luther King all had deep things to say about Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1963), a prescient combination of found sounds, spoken word, and eerie ambiance that was a contemporary response to the Alabama church bombing that killed four young girls.

The piece by Deutsch is still powerful, and it makes me think of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's quintet with Junior Cook and Kenny Barron, electronics, and Ilhan Mimarolu's heartbreaking Sing Me The Song of Songmy (1971).

Herb and the “Bob Moog”

Herb first came across the name “Bob Moog” when reading an Electronics World Magazine article written by the engineer that explained the process of creating a theremin, an instrument of considerable interest to Herb at the time.

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Two years later, Herb, a recently hired college lecturer, met Bob at the Rochester, New York, All-State Music Festival in 1963. Bob had gone to the festival to display a variety of theremins.

A quick bond was established over a common fascination with the electrical manipulation of sound, and shortly after this fortuitous encounter, the idea for the Moog Synthesizer, a new electronic musical instrument, was born.

Herbert Deutsch Cause of Death

Herbert Deutsch Cause of Death

The Bob Moog Foundation announced that “It is with the deepest sadness and reverence that we share that synthesizer pioneer Herb Deutsch passed away last night. He was 90 years old”.

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