The Trautonium History: The Beginning

The Beginning
The Volkstrautonium | The Rundfunktrautonium | The Konzerttrautonium | The Mixturtrautonium
The Halbleitertrautonium | The Senatstrautonium | The Trautonium 2000
The Future

In 1927 the 'Rundfunkversuchstelle' RVS was founded in Berlin with the intention to examine the relationship between music and Technique in broadcasting. There Dr. Friedrich Trautwein became a Professor for musical acoustics in 1929.
Trautwein has had the idea of developing an electrical musical instrument. Because of the budget the instrument should be an easy construction.
He finally had the idea to clamp a resistor wire - in a little distance and electrically isolated - above a long metall rail. He connected a glow lamp and a tube to the construction. The grid voltage of the glow lamp was determined by the point, where the resistor wire touches the rail while playing. This changes the frequency of the oscillated Saw Tooth Wave and thereby the pitch of sound.
The so in labor developed gear - the first Trautonium - was prepared for demonstration in 1930.

Oskar Sala, Paul Hindemith and the pianist Rudolph Schmidt did play compositions by Hindemith at the Festival Of New Music in Berlin. Motivated from the great response on the first concert immediately afterward the "Concertino für Trautonium und Streichorchester" followed also composed by Paul Hindemith. This piece was performed first in Munich on a convetion  for radio-music in 1931.
The Trautonium also gave his first debut on making movie-sounds in the 1930 Movie "Stürme über dem Mont Blanc" by Arnold Franck, where Oskar Sala realized the sound of a propeller plane.
At the 'Berliner Funkaustellung' 1932 there had been presented the electrically instruments of Theremin and Trautwein, amongst other. The highlight of that event was the common performance of the overture of the 'Thieving Magpie'.
The acceptance that the new Instrument gathered is best seen in the production of the Volkstrautonium in 1933/34 by Telefunken in a small series.

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Copyright ©Jürgen Hiller 2001-2003