Günter Sommer

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Günter "Baby" Sommer at the mœrs festival 2020

Günter "Baby" Sommer (born August 25, 1943 in Dresden ) is an internationally renowned German drummer and percussionist . He is one of the free jazz - musicians of the first generation in Europe.

Live and act

After a first experience in amateur groups while studying summer belonged starting from 1965, the Klaus Lenz - Big Band and in 1966 the Friedhelm Schonfeld Trio, the Manfred Ludwig Sextet , 1971, the jazz-rock group SOK and then the group Synopsis on. In the latter groups he already played with Ulrich Gumpert , who became his playing partner and with whom he gave numerous concerts at home and abroad as a duo in the seventies.

After studying at the Carl Maria von Weber Academy of Music in Dresden , who returned to him as professor for drums and percussion in the summer of 1995 , he found himself in the European avant-garde of free jazz and developed through encounters and performances with musicians such as Peter Brötzmann and Alexander von Schlippenbach , Paul Lovens , Peter Kowald and Evan Parker continue musically.

At this time, Sommer began to experiment with other instruments, some of which he had built himself (e.g. timpani , horns, organ pipes ) in order to expand his possibilities of expression. The composer and instrument experimenter Hans-Karsten Raecke had an influence not only with regard to this expansion of the range of instruments, but also with regard to its opening to other musical cultures and working with pauses and silence as a creative tool . The summer playing behind a curtain (at solo concerts) forced its audience to divert their attention from watching music making to focused listening. The first solo appearances with this audio music took place in the then West Berlin Philharmonic and the GDR Jazz Stage in Berlin . Since 1985, Sommer has expanded his audio music concept in the sense of music theater to include collaboration with dancers and actors.

From 1977, Sommer also gave concerts in a duo with the Merseburg cathedral cantor Hans-Günther Wauer , in 1979 traveled with GDR musicians and the Kowald-Smith-Sommer trio through Europe and Japan, and took part in numerous jazz events and international workshops . Since 1984 he has been a drummer with the Zentralquartett , with whom he still works today.

He also worked closely with writers such as Christa Wolf and Christoph Hein and designed their texts musically. In addition, an artistic cooperation began with the writer Günter Grass : For the publication Once Upon a Time (1987), in which Grass reads percussion music from his works Die Blechtrommel and Die Rättin for Sommer, Sommer also wrote the foreword and instructions for the text volume to hear properly.

His audio music was also reflected in the fact that his music became integrated and yet independent elements of radio plays - for example in the radio play productions of the Deutschlandradios Berlin Das wilde Fest by the author Joseph Moncure March 1997 and the modern version of the by Helma Sanders-Brahms traditional stories from A Thousand and One Nights 1993, 1995, 1999 (1st to 14th nights) and 2002 (15th to 17th nights).

After the political change, Sommer's sphere of activity also shifted spatially, initially to the Alpine region, a collaboration with Inge Missmahl and the Off-Off-Theater Konstanz , the Swiss Horns and the Italian Crams Percussion Staff developed. In 2000 he played the music for Jürgen Böttcher's film concert outdoors with Dietmar Diesner .

In 2007, Sommer worked in the cross-genre series OPER Leipzig unplugged by Heike Hennig and Friedrich Minkus with the dancer Zufit Simon, the countertenor Alex Nowitz and the saxophonist Hartmut Dorschner.

In 2009 he directed the Transatlantic Freedom Suite Tentet, designed by Oliver Schwerdt , with ensemble members from four generations; Wadada Leo Smith , Axel Dörner , Urs Leimgruber , Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky , Axel Andrae , Oliver Schwerdt, Barre Phillips , Michael Haves, Christian Lillinger and Sommer performed at the 33rd Leipzig Jazz Days . After studying the massacre of the German Wehrmacht on the civilian population of Kommeno , he wrote his Songs for Kommeno with Savina Yannatou , Floros Floridis , Evgenios Voulgaris and Spilios Kastanis. The CD Three Seasons with Patrick Bebelaar and Michel Godard was chosen as one of the albums of the year 2014 by The New York City Jazz Record .

Sommer's drumming is documented on 105 releases (2012). As a result of the scholarly attention to his artistic work, first attempts to museumize the special instruments that Free Jazz developed have been publicly documented.

Sommer also uses the pseudonym Romondoprath Ulfkutter .

Sommer lives with his wife in Radebeul near Dresden.

Accusation of MfS activity

Günter Baby Summer (2018)

According to the files of the Stasi records authority , Sommer was listed as a “ secret informator ” for the Ministry for State Security (MfS) during his studies in the 1960s ; there is no declaration of commitment. According to the files, he was "put on file" after five years because of poor discipline, failure to attend meetings and unreliability. The accusation of MfS activity reached the public as an open letter from Dietmar Diesner one day after the decision to award the 2011 art prize of the state capital Dresden in summer became known . A regular review in the 1990s had shown that there were no incriminating contacts with the state security.



  • A soloist as a person. 2014, film with and about the jazz musician Günter Baby Sommer

Discographic notes

Günter Baby Sommer, Moers Festival (2008)
  • Synopsis (Central Quartet): A pink crocodile swims on the Elbe . FMP Records 1974.
  • Listen to music. FMP / Amiga 1979, summer's first solo album.
  • Leo Smith, Peter Kowald, Günter Baby Sommer: Touch the Earth. FMP 1979.
  • Central Quartet. Intakt Records 1990, with Conrad Bauer, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and Ulrich Gumpert.
  • Ulrich Gumpert, Günter Baby Sommer: The thundering life. Intact 2009.
  • Dedications: Aural Music VI. Intakt 2013, solo album.
  • Günter Baby Sommer, Michel Godard, Patrick Bebelaar: Three Seasons. HGBS 2014.
  • Gabriele Hasler , Günter Baby Sommer: Fundstuecke. Laika 2016.
  • Le Piccole Cose (Live at Theater Gütersloh). Intuition 2017, solo album.
  • Günter Baby Sommer, Till Brönner : Baby's Party. Intact 2018.
with Hans-Günther Wauer
  • Dedication. FMP 1982.
  • Interlocked construction. Amiga 1986.
  • Merseburg encounter. kip 1994, trio with Theo Jörgensmann .
as Romondoprath Ulfkutter (pseudonym)

Setting of literature to music

  • Once upon a time there was a country. Steidl 1987, with Günter Grass.
  • 1001 nights . The 1st to 3rd night. Radio play by Helma Sanders-Brahms . Director: Robert Matejka . Production: RIAS and DLR , audio book Hamburg / Munich 2003, ISBN 3-89584-995-2 .
  • 1001 night. The 14th to 17th night. Director: Helma Sanders-Brahms. Production: DLR. Audiobook Hamburg, Munich 2004.
  • My century. Steidl 2004, with Günter Grass.
  • Abbara. Intact 2008, with Rafik Schami .

Film music


  • Patrik Landolt: Günter 'Baby' Sommer. Audio and visual music. In: Patrik Landolt, Ruedi Wyss (ed.): The laughing outsiders. Musicians between jazz, rock and new music. The 80s and 90s. Rotpunktverlag, Zurich 1993, ISBN 3-85869-156-9 , pp. 129-137.
  • Oliver Schwerdt: On the constitution, representation and transformation of the spatial in music. An examination of the symbol, instrumental and action space musically realized by Günter Sommer. 5 volumes, including discography and instrumentography. Dissertation University of Leipzig , 2012, ISBN 978-3-944301-13-6 .
  • Oliver Schwerdt: Cheers booklet for Baby - Festschrift for Günter Sommer's 70th birthday. With 46 contributions from 53 contributing individuals. Leipzig 2013, ISBN 978-3-944301-28-0 .
  • Rainer Bratfisch:  Summer, Günter ("Baby") . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 2. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .

Web links

Commons : Günter Sommer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. for example Martin Gaiser: Women, Jazz and Alcohol - Joseph Moncure March's “Das wilde Fest” as a radio play . In: literary criticism . No. 6, June 2002.
  2. ^ Heike Hennig & Co: oper unplugged cycle 1-4, No. 3: Four contemporaries. December 2007 (with video trailer).
  3. Christian Rentsch: 8 songs for Kommeno. Die Zeit , September 2, 2012.
  4. Oliver Schwerdt: Baby Summer XXL. Euphorium, Leipzig 2012.
  5. Sascha Willms: World's most extensive collection on Baby Summer. Born in Eisenach, he made his doctoral thesis on the Dresden percussionist available to the jazz archive. In: Thuringian General. March 23, 2013, No. 70, pp. TBTH4; see. also Hans-Jürgen Osterhausen: About the spatiality and the limits of music. Oliver Schwerdt's doctoral thesis on Günter Baby Sommer and free jazz in a short version. In: Jazz newspaper. 38th year, April-May 2013, p. 13.
  6. Detlef Ott: Baby Summer XXL. Monograph on an exceptional musician. In: Jazzpodium. 62nd volume, 2/2013, p. 7.
  7. ↑ Great moment in the cultural microcosm. In: Suedthueringen.de, June 26, 2008.
  8. See Sächsische Zeitung of February 18, 2011: Case “Baby” Sommer: Stasi files emerged .
  9. Michael Ernst: Stasi and Jazz - Günter Baby Sommer in the debate. In: Neue Musikzeitung . February 17, 2011.
  10. Best list of the fourth quarter of 2012. Prize of the German Record Critics eV
  11. From the GDR to Greece. Discussion on the preview of “Als Mensch ein Soloist” in the Haller Tagblatt , November 6, 2013.