From a technical standpoint, the image at the front of this piece is not my best work. It’s badly lit, the composition is all over the place, it’s cropped off at the knee, and more. It’s not a ‘keeper’. Except it was one of the last photographs I took of Dieter Burmester, who passed away on August 15 following a short illness. That wry smile says it all – it’s Dieter doing the things he loved.
In the course of being an audio writer in the high-end field, you meet a lot of manufacturers. Most have a unique combination of passion for music and sharp business acumen needed to make a success in the audio industry. And that makes for some big characters. But few characters were as big as Dieter Burmester, a man who was always larger than life, always excited by the next thing, always charismatic. It was never a handshake with Dieter, always a hug like you were a long-lost family member. He must have met thousands of people in his time – from audio enthusiasts, to distributors, to press, to owners – and all of them will remember him for his warmth and sheer enthusiasm.
Starting in the late 1970s, Dieter Burmester created one of the most recognisable brands in high-end audio, and with it a reputation for quality of sound, build, and service that created a loyal following. At a time when high-end audio was extremely insular, Burmester helped put international high-end audio on the world stage. At the time of his passing, the company that bears his name has more than 60 staff members in its Berlin office, exports to virtually every country where people listen to music, and has recently appeared in the cabins of top-class Mercedes Benz and Porsche cars.
But Dieter was more than just a CEO. His first musical experiences as bassist and guitar player in the 1960s were formative, and his collection of guitars and basses collected over 50 years of passionate playing is formidable. He wasn’t just a keen collector, but a keen musician, still playing until the end. His impromptu gig at the Burmester HQ in October last year wasn’t a one-off; staff members would know Dieter was in the factory, because they’d hear guitar playing coming from his office.
Dieter Burmester was also an audio enthusiast with vision, embracing multichannel, streaming, Bluetooth audio, and high-performance in-car audio with gusto. His passing, however, does not leave Burmester rudderless. His passion lives on in the team he created.
One gets to a point in life where you stop going to so many weddings and christenings, and start attending more of those events at the other end of life’s story. This one, though, has touched those of us who met the man more deeply than most, it seems. ‘He will be sorely missed’ sounds so trite and impersonal.
I’ll miss Dieter. I really will. I might not miss him trying to blow my eardrums out in demonstrating how powerful his new Mercedes system sounds, but I’ll miss his enthusiasm, and his passion.
From the Burmester press release:
Berlin, August 18, 2015. It is with great sadness but also a deep sense of gratitude for all of his achievements, Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH announces the unexpected death of the company founder and CEO Dieter Burmester. Dieter passed away after a short but severe illness in Berlin-Zehlendorf on August 15, 2015. Dieter Burmester was the founder and CEO of the company until his death.
Dieter Burmester’s mission had always been to create the perfect blend of musical sound, technological innovation and timeless design. Today, the brand Burmester has a global reputation for uncompromising sound and craftsmanship. Dieter Burmester was born in 1946. As a musician and engineer he embodies these ideals together with his team.
Ten years ago, Burmester accepted the challenge to implement the experience of high end sound into the automobile. Following the successful debut in the Bugatti Veyron Burmester now also offers high end sound for premium cars from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.
Dieter Burmester was an internationally accepted and well-known pioneer of the high end industry. Many of his legendary audio components have turned into icons of the high end world.
His passion for music and the reproduction of music at the highest levels of quality had lead him to continuously break new ground. His creative energy and his captivating enthusiasm inspired him to develop and realize extraordinary projects.
Passing on his profound knowledge and his personal art of hearing to the team at Burmester Audio was a matter of the heart for Dieter Burmester. We thank Dieter for his decades of inspiration and knowledge and driven attention to detail. Together with his wife Marianne Burmester the team at Burmester will continue to run the company as he would have wished.