Peter Thomas (composer)

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Peter Thomas (born December 1, 1925 in Breslau ; † May 17, 2020 in Lugano ) was a German film composer , conductor and arranger . He became known, among other things, for his compositions for the Edgar Wallace and Jerry Cotton cinema films and for the television series Raumpatrouille Orion .


Peter Thomas grew up in Berlin and received piano lessons as a preschooler. Later he was organist in the Erlöserkirche in Berlin-Moabit . In 1945 Thomas returned to Berlin after years as a soldier and prisoner of war . As a pianist , he has performed in clubs in all four sectors of the city. Due to the different musical tastes of Russians, Americans, British and French, this time has proven to be particularly instructive for Thomas.

In 1949 Peter Thomas resumed the studies he had started before the war. He learned at the Mohr Conservatory and with Hans Felix Husadel . In 1953 Thomas graduated in conducting , composition , counterpoint and brass music . The classical music studies and the current hits of the American orchestras, which Thomas got to know while listening to the soldier broadcaster AFN , inspired him to develop his own style early on.

After completing his studies, Thomas worked as an arranger at RIAS , where he mainly wrote arrangements for Hans Carste . At Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk he was the musical supervisor of the weekly radio show Berliner Feuilleton . Arrangements for Werner Eisbrenner were Thomas' first work for the film.


Through the mediation of the reporter Jürgen Neven-du Mont , Thomas came to television in 1958. His soundtracks for the series On the Green Beach of the Spree (1960) and the Durbridge multi-part series It's So Far (1960) are among his best-known early works, as well as the two-part children's television series Wenn einer Reise , one episode of which is live from the radio exhibition in 1958 was broadcast in Frankfurt am Main. Will Tremper engaged him in 1960 as a composer for his directorial debut Flucht nach Berlin . On June 25, 1961, Thomas received the gold film tape for this work in the “Best Film Music” category. He received the same award two years later for the film Die Endlose Nacht (1963), also directed by Tremper .

The soundtrack for the Edgar Wallace film The Strange Countess (1961) meant the biggest career boost for Peter Thomas up to that point. As a regular composer, he wrote the music for a total of 18 films in the popular series until 1971. Thomas also advanced to Germany's leading composer for crime films through his music for the films The White Spider , An Alibi breaks (both 1963), Das Wirtshaus von Dartmoor (1964) and the eight-part Jerry Cotton film series (1965 to 1969). During this time he also composed the Constantin-Film's recognition fanfare .

In addition, the television soundtracks for the Durbridge multi-part series The Keys (1965) and Melissa (1966) were created. The music title of the same name originating from the latter appeared on single and reached number 4 in the German charts on February 12, 1966, in which it was represented for twelve weeks. Peter Thomas recorded the title with the Harald Banter Media Band . The Bert Kaempfert trumpeter Charly Tabor ( Wonderland at Night ) acted as bass guitarist only once for this recording. The theme was only heard as background music in the three-part series and was played in the film by an Odeon single. In fact, the single was released in a new recording on CBS . Franz Löffler was now involved as a bass guitarist. The actual title and closing theme of Melissa was identical to the title music of The Keys, which was released as a single in 1965.

In addition, German cinema in the 1960s gave Peter Thomas the opportunity to work for films of various genres. He set the westerns The Last of the Mohicans (1965) and Winnetou and his friend Old Firehand (1966) as well as the large-scale production Onkel Toms Hütte (1965). Thomas wrote soundtracks to comedies such as The Devil with the Penne (1968) or The Gentlemen with the White Waistcoat (1970) and the horror film The Snake Pit and the Pendulum (1967). His work also includes the music for the film Memories of the Future (1970; nominated for an Oscar one year later in the best documentary category).

His greatest success was the music for the science fiction television series Raumpatrouille (1966), for which Thomas created a mixture of beat music , jazz , classical music and twelve-tone music . His electronic sound, which has already been used in other films, also had a special meaning in this work. So he used to achieve appropriate sound effects, including a vocoder from the Second World War. The Thowiphon, designed jointly with the sound engineer Hansjörg Wicha and which Thomas used in many sound experiments, was also used from the mid-1960s. Thomas also wrote the music for the street sweepers Babeck (1968) and 11.20 a.m. (1970).

Peter Thomas also worked for television in the 1970s, where he regularly composed for episodes of the series Der Kommissar (from 1969), Derrick (from 1974) and Der Alte (from 1977). The music composed by Thomas and Daisy Door sung title you live in your world (highlights of my Dreams) from the Commissioner episode as the flowers of mourning wore (1971) sold more than 500,000 copies within three months and was the beginning of 1972 four weeks at number 1 in the German charts. Thomas' best-known television works also include the soundtracks to the series Der Kurier der Kaiserin (1970), Café Wernicke and Mein Freund Winnetou (both 1980). The intro of the quiz show The Grand Prize, which was broadcast from 1974, and the WWF Club , which was successful from 1980 to 1990, also came from Thomas.

For cinema, which began to lose commercial importance from the 1970s, Thomas composed, among other things, the music for several erotic films , the Simmel film The Stuff Dreams Are Made of , the international version of Bruce Lee - The Death Fist of Cheng Li ( 1971/1973) and the war film Steiner - The Iron Cross II (1979). His last work for the big screen was the score for the comedy Tach, Herr Dokter! - The Heinz Becker film (1999) by cabaret artist Gerd Dudenhöffer . Peter Thomas composed the music for around 80 feature films and over 600 television films and episodes.

Between his film and television work, Peter Thomas repeatedly found opportunities to devote himself to other musical tasks. He created several music albums as well as recordings for music publishers and for advertising . His experimental arrangements were used as well as for various musicals and radio plays . Peter Thomas worked in the course of his career a. A. together with the instrumentalists Charly Tabor , Klaus Doldinger , Michael Goltz , Jan Hammer , Ingfried Hoffmann , Olaf Kübler , Albert Mangelsdorff , Lothar Meid , Wolfgang Paap , Sigi Schwab , Peter Trunk and Otto Weiß . In addition, he was u. A. responsible for recordings of the vocal interpreters Senta Berger , Heinz Erhardt , Marie France , Juliette Gréco , Hana Hegerová , Harald Juhnke , Eartha Kitt , Zarah Leander , Lill Lindfors , Julia Migenes , Esther & Abi Ofarim , Sandie Shaw , Donna Summer , Vico Torriani and Nina Westen .


Peter Thomas, who lived in Lugano , had been with the journalist Cordula Thomas, born in 1959. Knight, married. Under the pseudonym Gil Francropolus, she wrote many lyrics to her husband's melodies. Cordula Thomas died in 2017 at the age of 90. Their son Philip works as a lawyer in Zurich .


The British band Pulp used a sample of the title Bolero on the Moon Rocks from the soundtrack of the Raumpatrouille series for their song This Is Hardcore in 1998 . Other musicians who worked with Peter Thomas or his recordings included Xaver Fischer , The High Llamas , Saint Etienne , Stereolab , Yoshinori Sunahara and Ramon Zenker . In the directorial debut of actor George Clooney , confessions - Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), four of Thomas for the Edgar Wallace series recorded tracks can be heard. In the 2010 film Jerry Cotton , with Christian Tramitz in the title role, the composer of the film music, Helmut Zerlett , modernized the then Jerry Cotton march and brought it into the film.

The “Peter Thomas Archive” has existed since 2007 and was brought to life in collaboration with the composer. The task of the archive is to acquire and archive all image, text and sound carriers. Peter Thomas wrote contributions to some of his music for the catalog.

Filmography (selection)

movie theater

watch TV

  • 1958: To the German people
  • 1958: leaves in the wind
  • 1959: The voice out of the hat
  • 1960: The man who was Thursday
  • 1960: On the green beach of the Spree (5 episodes)
  • 1960: instinct is everything. A story from Soho
  • 1960: The time has come (6 episodes)
  • 1960: The cemeteries
  • 1961: The journalists
  • 1961: Mink is in the smallest hut
  • 1962: Obituary for Jürgen Trahnke
  • 1962: Whoever eats out of a tin bowl
  • 1963: The state of siege
  • 1963: Danton's death
  • 1963: The accounting
  • 1963: friendly game
  • 1964: After the store closes
  • 1964: Have
  • 1964: Dr. Murke's collected silence
  • 1964: The devil's trail
  • 1964: King Richard III
  • 1964: The noose
  • 1965: The Keys (3 episodes)
  • 1965: Ninotschka
  • 1965: Dr. Murke's collected obituaries
  • 1965: The fifth column: flowers for room 19
  • 1965: The fifth column: a visit from over there
  • 1966: Melissa (3 episodes)
  • 1966: Raumpatrouille - The fantastic adventures of the Orion spaceship (7 episodes)
  • 1967: the drinker
  • 1967: Traitor (3 episodes)
  • 1968: Babeck (3 episodes)
  • 1968: Count Öderland
  • 1968: Of mice and humans
  • 1968: Murder in Frankfurt
  • 1969: America or The Lost One
  • 1969: Hotel Royal
  • 1969–1974: The Commissioner (23 episodes)
  • 1970: 11:20 am (3 episodes)
  • 1970: The Empress's Courier (26 episodes)
  • 1971: The night of Lisbon
  • 1971: the heart of all things
  • 1973: Sergeant Berry
  • 1974–1977: Derrick (7 episodes), including: Waldweg
  • 1979: Another opera . A musical Joke
  • 1976: Ambulance 7 (13 episodes)
  • 1977: Der Alte (title music of the first 100 episodes and music from individual episodes)
  • 1978: A man for all cases
  • 1979: The minutes of Mr. M
  • 1980: Café Wernicke
  • 1980: My friend Winnetou (14 episodes)
  • 1980: Weekend Stories (5 episodes)
  • 1980: The green bird
  • 1981: The Laurents - Story of a Berlin Huguenot Family
  • 1986: Christian Rother - banker for Prussia
  • 1990: Ewald - around the clock

Other works (selection)

Incidental music and musicals

  • 1968: Vodka for the Queen (Musical for Zarah Leander )
  • 1983: Hope Festival (In Memoriam Gerard Hope )
  • 2000: Lady Di - Diana, Queen of Hearts (musical) . Libretto: Volker Führer and Axel Schulß, for Stracke-Interworld / Jacaranda, world premiere November 10, 2001, Saarlandhalle, Saarbrücken. Tour of 10 cities.
  • 2003: Hansel and Gretel (musical)

Radio plays

Discography (selection)


(A side / B side)

  • Peter Thomas with his Tele-Boys: Frankenstein-Rock / Pst! Bet on the seven! (1959; Ariola )
  • Nina Westen: Non-Club 61 (1961; Philips )
  • Nina Westen: Carousel Twist / Honky Tonky Melody (1962; Philips)
  • Akki: Mulero Bossa Nova / Bossa Nova (1963; Philips)
  • Esther Ofarim : T'en vas pas / Le cité de mon coeur (1963; Philips)
  • Esther Ofarim: Melody of a Night / Come to Me (1963; Philips)
  • Esther Ofarim: Come on, put your arm around me / You are so far from me (1963; Philips)
  • Esther Ofarim: Tomorrow is all over / Bonjour l'amour (1963; Philips)
  • Sven Martin: Goodbye, Berlin, goodbye! (1963; Philips), B-side: The Merry Miller Singers: Old Bavarian March
  • Esther Ofarim: This is my love / Dirty Old Town (1963; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas: Shake Shake (If I didn't have you) / Midnight-Party in the Prairie Saloon (1963; Philips)
  • Esther & Abi Ofarim: Beautiful Girl / My Way Home (1964; Philips)
  • Esther & Abr Ofarim: One more dance / If I can be with you (1964; Philips)
  • George Goodman: Old, Old, Mississippi / Johnny and I (1965; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas: Jerry Cotton March / Jewel Part (1965; Polydor )
  • Peter Thomas and his band: The Keys / Aha! (1965; Telefunken )
  • The Constantin Sound Orchestra, conductor: Peter Thomas: The Last Mohicans / Military Western Song (1965; Telefunken)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Melissa / Black & White-Charleston (1966; CBS)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Raumpatrouille / Shub-A-Dooe (1966; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas: On the green beach of the Spree / I Love Tschaikowsky (1966; Polydor)
  • Sir Peter and his Classics: Ave Maria 67 / Roses from the South (1967; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Verräter / Twiggy Beat (1967; Philips)
  • Kerry & Kaye: Mr. Akkermann / Super Man (1967; Polydor)
  • Joe Ki and the PTSG (Peter Thomas Sound Group): Mao / Carthage is Green (1967; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Walking Through The Vienna Wood / Any Spanish How (1968; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Slimfinado / Rix-Time (1968; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Karlsbad (Forget me if you can) / This is the big time (Silver Clouds for Marjorie) (1969; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Delilah / Cadenza (1968; Polydor)
  • Daisy Door: Schoolgirl (1971; Ariola)
  • Using progress (1971; advertising panel from Aral ), B-side: Paul Barbarin : Gettysburg March
  • Daisy Door: You live in your world (Highlights of my Dreams) / Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Jericho Angels (1972; Ariola)
  • Sandie Shaw: Summer Wind / Hello Bambino (1972; Ariola)
  • Peter Thomas Electric Light Sound Orchestra: Raunchy / Slumpy (1972; Ariola)
  • Peter Thomas Electric Light Sound Orchestra: Sail Along Silv'ry Moon / Come on Honey (1972; Ariola)
  • Daisy Door: Come on and we're free / think out loud! (1972; Ariola)
  • Jam: Popcorn / Ecco (1972, BASF )
  • Peter Thomas: The Stuff dreams are made of / Agent-X-Melody (1972; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas: Sergeant Berry / Tango Berry (1973; BASF)
  • Triangle: Umpta-Lady (Three Notes Rock) / Talking Mandola (1973; Ariola)
  • Peter Thomas Bagpipes: Oh, My Darling Princess Anne / Scotland the Brave (1973; Telefunken)
  • Peter Popper's Piano Soundkapelle: Peter Popper's Radetzky-Marsch / The almost 2-Minute Waltz (1974; Jupiter Records)
  • Peter Thomas: Die Buchholzens / Chariots Of The Gods (1974; Polydor)
  • Andy, the street musician (on the label: Andy, the street singer): Happy Andy / Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Happy Peter (1975; Polydor)
  • Sabrina: Without you it's night / Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Opium (1976; Polydor)
  • PTO (Peter Thomas Orchestra): Discoland / Potpourri (1977; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas: Tee 78 / Go (1978; Ariola)
  • Peter Thomas: Steiner-Theme / Friendship Melody (1979; Ariola)
  • Wim Thoelke : I whistle you something (sparrow concert) / Potpourri: The Sun of Mexico - Oh, Susanna (1979; Polydor)
  • The Ampelmännchen: Hello friends! (Der Ampelmännchen-Song) / Der Ampelmännchen-March (1984; Polydor)


  • Peter Thomas: Jerry Cotton - Original film music from the Constantin film "Shots from the Violin Case" (1965; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas: The Last of the Mohicans - Original Soundtrack Music (1965; Telefunken), B-side: Raimund Rosenberger : Through the wild Kurdistan
  • Peter Thomas: Uncle Tom's Hut - Melodies from the large color film (1965; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Raumpatrouille - Original soundtrack from the 7-part television series by BAVARIA (1966; Fontana)
  • Playgirl - Original Soundtrack (1966; Philips)
  • Sir Peter and his Classics: Classics à la Pop (1967; Philips), Philips Twen-Serie 59
  • Sir Peter and his Oldtimers (1967; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Dancing Ninotschka (1967; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: The Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra Presents (1968; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Piano Strings (1968; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Organic (1968; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas: Le mariage parfait - Van de Velde: The perfect marriage (1968; Polydor), only published in France
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Viva La Feria (1969; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Suramericana (1970; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas: Memories of the Future - Original Soundtrack (1970; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Popcorn Band: Popcorn Party (1972; BASF)
  • Peter Thomas: Django asks you to dance (1973; BASF)
  • Peter Thomas & Sten Clift: Sound Music Album 1 (1973; Golden Ring)
  • Peter Thomas: Sound Music Album 4 (1973; Golden Ring)
  • Peter Popper's Piano Soundkapelle (1974; Jupiter Records)
  • Peter Thomas: Orion 2000 (1975; Golden Ring)
  • Peter Thomas: Sound Music Album 7 (1975; Golden Ring)
  • Peter Thomas: Electronic Water (1976; Golden Ring)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Sound News (1976; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Message of the Gods - Mysteries of the Gods (1976; Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas: The Great Orchestras in the World (1977; Polydor)
  • PTO (Peter Thomas Orchestra) in Discoland (1977; Polydor)
  • The Chapel of Café Wernicke: Dance in Café Wernicke (1979; Philips)
  • Peter Thomas: My friend Winnetou - original music (1980; Europe )
  • 1st German Symphony Pop Orchestra Peter Thomas: Symphonies Of The 3rd Kind (1980; Philips)
  • The Orchestra of 111 Violins - Dream for 2 (1981; K-tel)
  • Peter Thomas Sound: What a sound - making music! - Sweet Tears, Sweet Dreams (1983; Carousel)
  • Peter Thomas: Super Monitor (1984; Selected Sound)


  • Peter Thomas: Winnetou and his friend Old Firehand - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1991; Tarantula Records)
  • Peter Thomas: Film Musik (1992; Polydor), also released as a double album by Two Thousand One
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Easy Loungin '(1995; Polydor)
  • Peter-Thomas-Sound-Orchester: Raumpatrouille (1996; Bungalow), contains three bonus tracks
  • Peter Thomas: 100% Cotton - The Complete Jerry Cotton Edition (1997; Crippled Dick Hot Wax ), double album
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Futuremuzik (1998; Scamp)
  • Peter Thomas: Moonflowers & Mini-Skirts (1998; Marina)
  • Peter Thomas: Uncle Tom's Cabin (1998; Bear Family Records )
  • Peter Thomas: crime film music (1998; BSC Music)
  • Peter-Thomas-Sound-Orchester: Warp Back to Earth 66/99 (1999; Bungalow), double album
  • Peter Thomas: Tach Herr Dokter - The soundtrack for the Heinz Becker film (1999; BMG Ariola )
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra - Hymn to the Future ( Perry Rhodan 2000) (1999; Emarcy Rec - Universal )
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Peter scores (2002; Diggler Records)
  • Peter Thomas: The Last of the Mohicans - Original Score (2002, Bear Family Records)
  • Peter-Thomas-Sound-Orchester: Raumpatrouille, The Complete Music (2003; Bungalow), contains 10 bonus tracks from the original soundtrack
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Majolika Lounge (2003; BSC Music)
  • Esther Ofarim: Melody of a Night (2003; Bear Family Records)
  • Peter Thomas: Full Speed ​​@ 80 (2005, Happy Records)
  • Peter Thomas: German Film Composers, Part 5 (2007; Bear Family Records)
  • Peter-Thomas-Sound-Orchester: New Sounds for Oldtimers (2008; Universal)
  • Peter Thomas: Chariots of the Gods? (2009; Polydor Jazzclub)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Van de Velde: The Perfect Marriage & Van de Velde: Life for Two (2009; Allscore / Chris' Soundtrack Corner)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Jerry Cotton - FBI's Top Man (2010; Allscore / Chris' Soundtrack Corner)
  • Peter Thomas and the chapel of Café Wernicke: Café Berlin (2010; Universal Jazzclub)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Bruce Lee - The Big Boss (2010; Allscore / Chris' Soundtrack Corner)
  • Orchestra Peter Thomas: Orion 2000 (2011; OMNI)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Mysteries of the Gods (2011; Polydor Jazzclub)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Peter Thomas Sounds (2015; Universal Polydor)
  • Peter Thomas Sound Orchester: Die Weibchen / Oh Happy Day / Angels that burn their wings (2015; Allscore / Chris' Soundtrack Corner)


German film award

German record award

SoundTrack Cologne honorary award

  • 2008 - for life's work

German music author award

  • 2009 - for life's work


  • Gerd Naumann: The film composer Peter Thomas - From Edgar Wallace and Jerry Cotton to the Orion space patrol. ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-8382-0003-3 - ISSN  1866-3397
  • Joachim Kramp , Gerd Naumann: The great album of the Edgar Wallace films. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf Verlag 2013, ISBN 978-3862652570
  • Peter Thomas: Film music by Peter Thomas . Piano sheet music. Publisher: Firmament.
    The piano album contains the sheet music for the following titles: Natascha - Like a dream - The pit of the snakes and the pendulum - The last of the Mohicans - Ask me Later, Alligator - My Friend Phil - Jerry '67 - Caught At Midnight - Jerry-Cotton-Marsch - The Secret of the White Nun - The Hunchback from Soho - Twisting Monk - Hexers Nightclub - Blue Romance - Theme For Lucy - Walking Dandy - Poker Face - The Strange Countess.
  • Tobias Hohmann, Thomas Wehlmann, Klaus Hintermeier: Edgar & Bryan Edgar Wallace. Publisher: MPW. ISBN 978-3-942621-00-7 . The 870-page book covers all Edgar Wallace films for cinema and television, from the silent films to the remakes in the 1990s. It also contains a multi-page report on Peter Thomas with an interview.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Thomas obituary , Süddeutsche Zeitung of May 23, 2020, accessed on May 27, 2020
  2. Composer Peter Thomas mourns the loss of his wife and author Cordy. Retrieved July 31, 2017 .
  3. available at
  4. ^ Gerd Naumann The film composer Peter Thomas. In: ibidem Verlag. Retrieved May 19, 2020 .