Tribute to Dan Timis

Dan TimisFebruary 6, 2009

To all in the Muse Research community. It is with great sadness that we must report the passing of Dan Timis. In addition to being a founder, Dan was a terrific friend and valued colleague for all of us at Muse Research.

He was a special human being with a wonderful thirst for life that was charming and infectious. He was also a skilled musician, clever engineer, political activist, and wildlife photographer.

We will truly miss him, but continue to be inspired by his life.

grEGORy Simpson, another Muser who was in at the beginning, shares a nice tribute to Dan on his blog.

The Muse Research Team

Read Bryan Lanser's Eulogy to Dan Here [PDF 52 MB]

Comments from some of Dan's friends and family

Rick Escobar
February 6, 2009

About 5 years back I had just started working for Muse Research, I hadn't known Dan but for maybe a few days. It was a late evening, Dan says in his own very excited way "follow me, you must see this". So he takes me down into a room where it's pitch black, he says "ready" and claps his hands. Suddenly, the walls explode with toys going nuts, they were everywhere. Afterwards he turns on the lights, this causes them to go nuts again. Turns out the building we shared at the time had a company that did sounds for these creatures. As the story goes, any time it was late, we would always make the toys come alive before leaving and sometimes in between.

As I see it, we are all made of puzzle parts that fit together neatly, but in very unusual ways, this is what makes us unique. Those pieces are from our experiences in love, grief, discovery and the tons of misc stuff which is tucked away for a rainy day. Dan was a very brilliant and talented man, however to me he was also just a big kid who could be easily amused. This was a bond we shared with fond memories of the simple things in life we both enjoyed so much. Dan will always be one of those parts that make me who I am today.

Teresa Heinrich
February 6, 2009

Dan looked forward to going to NAMM and to the Opcode Christmas celebrations every year. When he returned home to my sister, he would be carting a camera-load of shots of Stevie Wonder, or whomever the latest celebrity performer was. Sometimes he travelled at his own expense, barebones, with Jarrell Irvin but always he returned with shining eyes. At home, Dan would work late into the night coding until 4 am, always happy. I am so lucky we got to have him in our family and thank you for being his friends. We will miss his fire. Teresa.

Michael Ost
February 10, 2009

The tributes are all true; I can vouch for them. Dan and I worked together closely for several years. We locked horns --- both are headstrong --- but his big heart got us past that and our mutual respect and friendship grew.

The memory of Dan that is cemented for me is hearing "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" in his Romanian accent when something needed clarification. I just loved that! And still trot it out from time to time.

Losing someone young like this has really shaken me, and colored the world differently. Somehow I don't think that will ever really change back. There certainly won't ever be another like him.

Gerard Assayag
February 19, 2009

I am a witness of the first part of Dan's life in the west, that is when he left Romania and landed in Paris, France in 1982, before his american life that began in late 1986.

He attended a BSc computer science program at the Pierre et Marie Curie University. So did I, I met him there, in front of an information panel. Why did we talk? Why did we become instantly friends? We discovered that we were both gravitating around IRCAM, the big research facility for music and science founded by the famous director Pierre Boulez. I was as a student working on some research projects that would lead, years after to the creation of the Music Representation team where I'm still in charge. Dan was working part time in the systems team.

There started a period of wonders and beauty.

We used to work together in the evening and late in the night (yes, Dan was already used to program till 4 in the morning) with that big empty Ircam building as a playground.

Dan was brilliant: he reinvented computer music with new ideas all the time. The Postscript language was just showing up and he suggested we should extend the language to a full object oriented one and use it to ease the design and printing of music notation. We wrote three papers at the Icmc on that topic. The book "a general theory of tonal music" was becoming a hit : one evening he told me "this is bull shit". He took Chomsky's theory of formal grammars and automata and found what was missing : a formal language expressing the idea of polyphonic superposition in music. Thus the "superposition grammars", a breakthrough in music theory, and the occasion to meet Marc Chemillier who came around at that time for his Master's internship and worked with Dan on that topic. Marc is now a recognized researcher and professor in a top french university.

This is just a few examples of Dan's creativity. When we were tired of working, we would go downstairs to the grand Steinway piano and Dan would play marvelous interpretations of the classical repertoire. Or we would go to an empty studio and play a CD (it was the beginnings of this technology) full power on the studio's amps (a Mahler symphony, e.g.). Then at 3 or 4 in the morning we would go to the Pizza Pino in the quartier des Halles for a pizza in one of the all-night restaurants around.

We were very close and when he left for the US he left a great vacuum. But old Europe was too small for him.

I visited him in Santa Barbara at the time he was in charge of the studio, then later when he was at Opcode. Then we lost ties. Strangely I have never stopped thinking of him. Often at ircam when a new thing pops up I say : well, my friend Dan Timis had already envisioned this in the eighties. For example, visual programming of musical processes (that became so popular with Max) was an idea he was already suggesting in 1985/1986, well before it became mainstream.

For the birth of my son in 1986 Dan wrote a score to commemorate the event. It is a contemporary bossa nova, a nice piece he wrote overnight. I will keep it forever and this will be the unalterable link between us : his music.

Morel Koren
March 8, 2009

I got to know Dan in summer 1973 or 74 at “Musical Vacancies” - a Festival of Students in Piatra Neamt, - a very nice city in Moldova, Rumania. Dan came from the Bucharest Music Academy, and I came from the Iasi Music Academy.

After a few days of daily encounters, in these 3 weeks of musical events, Dan and I have become friends, good friends. And in the next summer festival we met again in Piatra Neamt Musical Vacancies - this time like old friends.

In ‘82, Dan attended a BSc computer science program at the Pierre et Marie Curie University, worked in IRCAM, and in ‘86, crossed the Ocean to work in California as audio programmer and DSP (Digital Signal Processing) architect.

In the last 20 years he was involved in the research and development of two patents in the field of computer application for music and in the development of many software/hardware products at Opcode (Vision), Arboretum (Hyperprism), Muse Research (Receptor) and Apple (iPod, and iPhone).

In the last 12 years we were in email contact, and between 1999-2002 we met each other in California at Stanford, Berkeley, Mountain View, Palo Alto and San Francisco. In 1999 when I was in New York at my friend Prof. Dr. Father Theodor Damian’s house, Dan invited me to visit him at Mountain View. He took me to the Opcode building, and on the next day asked Prof. Jonathan Berger for his permission to visit Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Prof. Berger has agreed to welcome us and presented some of CCRMA’s successes to us. On the next day, Dan took me to visit the Golden Bridge and the Musée Mécanique (The Zelinsky Collection coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines) - that fascinated both of us.

On July 2002, when I was in summer courses at CCRMA, Dan organized a visit to Anne’s relatives who have a horse farm. It was great. The country, the holiday atmosphere, the barbeque and the most important thing, the lovely people. We celebrated then July 4 together.

I was really happy and proud to hear that Dan works at Apple, and that he invests his energy, creativity, intelligence, and time in what he loves so much.

After a major heart attack, Dan passed away on February 3, 2009.

… and now, is not responding anymore. And we have deep regrets, and we are sorry for you Anne, for Dan’s parents Ben and Poli, and for all his good friends.

… at least we can read and write memories about Dan Timis at,,

Good by my friend, Shalom Haver, שלום חבר, Adio Prietene

Morel Koren,
Music Department,
Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Serban Nichifor
March 22, 2009

Brilliant representative of the Romanian music and music-technology, Dan Timis is internationally imposed through his highly and complex personality, combining tradition with innovation to improve the way that composers use to think about making their composition.

Born on 15 July 1954 in Bucharest, as the only son of Master Vasile Timis, Dan began studying piano at the School of Music with the distinguished professor Marta Paladi, then at the High School of Music (now High School “Dinu Lipatti “- where I had the privilege of classmate) and then at the Music Academy ”Ciprian Porumbescu” (the present National University of Music), where he graduated Composition Department, with the guidance of renowned representatives of the Romanian school, such as Anatol Vieru, Stefan Niculescu , Aurel Stroe, Liviu Comes, Dinu Petrescu, Dinu Ciocan and Ioana Minei.

In parallel with the studies at the Music Academy, he attended courses and the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest -Faculty of Automation and Computers.

With great enthusiasm Dan has searched and developed new solutions for sound expression and continued – in quite different directions - the experiments that were started in Romania by Aurel Stroe and Grigore Moisil.
Dan has been awarded with prizes from the Union of Composers and Musicologists of Romania and from the Music Academy “Ciprian Porumbescu”. His musical works include the Cantata on the texts by Dimitrie Cantemir, the String Quartet (a masterpiece of the genre), the splendid Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, the Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, the marvelous Songs on poems written by Tudor Arghezi and, last but not least, music for films designed to young directors - members of his generation, such as Horia Constantin and Dinu Lazar.

He was a redoubtable pianist, active in the Romanian Society “Music” (animated by the musicologist Radu Stan), soloist and member of the trio “NTN”, along with the virtuous John Nedelciu (clarinet) and me (on cello) - all three were linked with the most profound feelings of friendship.

After graduating from the Conservatoire as head of promotion in 1978, he participated in several editions of the summer courses at Darmstadt supported by Morton Feldman, Ton de Leeuw, Mauricio Kagel and Brian Ferneyhough, and at the conducting courses at Weimar coordinated by Igor Markevitch. In 1982 he moved to Paris, where he graduated computer programming and started working at IRCAM, where he has collaborated with Rob Gross.

In 1987 he began to work at the University of Santa Barbara (USA) - the Center for Experimental Music. Dan was involved in researches that lead to inventions and patents such as “Method and system for editing digital audio information with music-like parameters” (Audio-to-MIDI/MIDI-to-Audio feature, United States Patent 5792971) and “Using time-stamped event entries to facilitate synchronizing data streams” (United States Patent 20090006488). Dan Timis worked at Opcode Systems (as Senior Programmer in the “Vision Studio” software with several distinguished awards), Euphonix, Zoom, Antares, Kind of Loud, TuneTo, Arboretum Systems (as Director of Research and Development), Muse Research (as a principal adviser in creating the “Receptor″) and at Apple (involved with iPod and iPhone development).

He has dedicated his body and soul to this field of music-technology avant-garde, and DSP algorithm. Investing days and nights on his intense work Dan's heart cracked in a totally unexpected and fatidic February 3, 2009 …

He was very loved by his american colleagues, musicians and programmers, which dedicated him the page “Tribute to Dan Timis” at:, the page “for-Dan” at: and the page “Dan Timis” at:

His decease is a deep loss for the American and Romanian musicians. For me, it is like I have lost my very dear brother …"

Serban Nichifor

Bucharest, February 13, 2009

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