Peter Zinovieff (1933 – 2021) Memorial Page

Peter Zinovieff in 2013 (by Jakob Polacsek)

Another CamRuSS friend whom we lost was Peter Zinovieff (1933 – 2021) who passed away on Thursday, 24 June at his home in Cambridge.
Peter was born in 1933 to Leo Zinovieff and Sofka, Russian aristocrats, who met in London after their families had emigrated to escape the Russian revolution. He earned a doctorate in geology at Oxford University.

Peter was a British engineer and inventor, most notable for his Electronic Music Studios (EMS) company, that made the famous VCS3 synthesizer in the late 1960s used by many early progressive rock bands such as Pink Floyd, The Who, White Noise, and Krautrock groups as well as artists like Todd Rundgren and David Bowie. Dr Zinovieff, geologist, librettist and adventurer in sound and music, was the first person to own a ‘computer’ at home long before the modern PC or Mac. He helped to design and build the acclaimed VCS and Synthi series, which have now become the stuff of legend and the dream of collectors.

Peter was a very energetic person who eagerly jumped into any new project, be it geological research, creating the first synthesiser, composing electronic music, cooking his Russian nanny’s recipes or gardening.

CamRuSS has welcomed Dr Zinovieff twice: in June 2015 we held the talk “My Russian Roots & Childhood Memories” where Peter talked about his unusual upbringing by his grandparents during World War II (his lineage traces back to Catherine the Great and Yury Dolgorouky, the founder of Moscow), while his daughter Sofka presented her book “The Red Princess” about Peter’s mother Sofka, née Princess Sophia Dolgorouky; another talk, called “Another World of Music” was held more recently, in January 2019.

You may read Peter’s obituary in The Guardian, The Times, and The Telegraph.

Peter will be greatly missed. At these sad times, our thoughts are with Peter’s family.

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