Gershon Kingsley

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Gershon Kingsley
Birth name Götz Gustav Ksinski
Born (1922-10-28) October 28, 1922 (age 92)
Bochum, Germany
Genres Electronic, classical, pop, sacred, crossover
Occupation(s) Composer, arranger, keyboardist, conductor
Instruments Synthesizer, piano
Years active 1954–present

Gershon Kingsley (born Götz Gustav Ksinski; October 28, 1922; Bochum, Germany) a contemporary German American composer,[1] is a pioneer of electronic music and the Moog synthesizer and founder of the First Moog Quartet, as a partner in the electronic music duo Perrey and Kingsley, and writer of rock-inspired compositions for Jewish religious ceremonies.[2]

Kingsley conducted and arranged many Broadway musicals,[3] and composes for film and for television shows[4] and commercials.[5] Kingsley also composes classical chamber works and his most recent opera, Raoul, was premiered in Bremen in 2008.[6] His compositions are eclectic and vary between avant-garde and pop styles. Kingsley is most famous for his influential electronic instrumental composition "Popcorn".[1] His work garnered recognition with a Tony Award nomination for Best Conductor and Musical Director,[7] two Clio Awards for his work in advertising, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bob Moog Foundation.[8]

Early life[edit]

Gershon was born Götz Gustav Ksinski in 1922 in Bochum, Germany to a Roman Jewish mother and a Jewish father. Kingsley left Germany in 1938 and joined a kibbutz while his parents stayed behind. His parents emigrated to the United States where Kingsley met up with them eight years later.[9]

Musical career[edit]

His career as a pop musician took off with the release of The In Sound from Way Out!, which he recorded with Jean-Jacques Perrey. The Perrey-Kingsley duo went on to record Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog and subsequently went their separate ways. Kingsley then recorded Music To Moog By, a classic Moog album consisting mainly of cover songs, originally by The Beatles, Beethoven, and Simon and Garfunkel. His next effort, titled First Moog Quartet, is a compilation of live recordings from his nationwide tour featuring four Moog synthesizers. Some of these compositions are more experimental, featuring spoken word and beat poetry backed by synthetic noises and tones. Kingsley moved beyond the Moog, and later pioneered the use of the earliest Fairlight and Synclavier digital synthesizers.[citation needed]


Kingsley was quoted in 2005 as saying that in 1969 he was listening to a popcorn machine and thought he could make a tune out of it. He spent the next day playing his Moog synth looking for a catchy riff. He then constructed the song in the studio entirely on the synthesizer, resulting in "Popcorn". Kingsley released the track 87 days later on the album Music To Moog By, and it soon became the first international electronic dance hit.[10]

Many artists have covered "Popcorn", including Hot Butter, Jean Michel Jarre, Aphex Twin, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Marsheaux, Muse, Crazy Frog and The Muppets. The composition was used in Soviet animated series Nu, pogodi!

Other notable works[edit]

Kingsley and Perrey are credited with composing "Baroque Hoedown", used by The Walt Disney Company for the Main Street Electrical Parade at its theme parks; and "The Savers", best known as the theme for the game show The Joker's Wild. He also wrote the logo sting for WGBH-TV in Boston that appears throughout the United States on PBS programming produced by the station.[11]

Partial discography[edit]

Film scores[edit]


  1. ^ a b Graham, Dave (April 19, 2010). "Pop pioneer hails Germany despite Holocaust misery". Reuters. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ Caramanica, Jon (August 21, 2005). "Funny, It Doesn't Sound Jewish – New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  3. ^ The Broadway League. "The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Film Video TV". Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Raoul". May 9, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ "1959 Tony Award Winners". Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Pop pioneer hails Germany despite Holocaust misery". Reuters. April 19, 2010. 
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links[edit]