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German Composer Sala Dies

February 28, 2002

BERLIN (AP) _ Oskar Sala, the German composer and physicist whose novel musical instrument produced the sound effects for Alfred Hitchcock’s ``The Birds,″ has died. He was 91.

Sala died Tuesday, Peter Friess, the former director of the German Museum in Bonn, said Thursday.

Born in the eastern German town of Greiz, Sala is known for developing and mastering the trautonium, billed as the world’s first electronic musical instrument on its invention in 1929.

He performed with the Berlin Philharmonic several times, and the instrument _ a precursor to the synthesizer _ was frequently used in German ads in the 1940s and 1950s.

The trautonium was most famously employed to produce the bird calls in Hitchcock’s 1963 film. Few people realized the cacophonous calls on the film were produced electronically.

Sala donated his original Mixtur-Trautonium to the German Museum for Contemporary Technology in Bonn in 1995.

There was no information on survivors.

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