The founder of the LOFT Hans Martin Müller was born in 1952 in Geldern in the Lower Rhine region. His musical career (fipple flute) started in YMCAs’ recorder group in Kamp-Lintfort. Lessons on the Western concert flute and the saxophone were soon to follow, but from the very beginning his interested lay in contemporary music, which at that time was Jazz, Rhythm&Blues and Soul. In 1967 he played in his first band alongside the founder of the New Jazz Festival Moers Burkard Hennen. Additional groups followed until his own group Schacht IV became iconic in Moers in the early 1970s. In 1971 he started to study mining after having completed a 1 ½ years practical underground in Aachen, but when after one semester he learned about the opening of a Jazz seminar in Cologne by Manfred Schoof and Peter Trunk, he decided to focus on music entirely for some time.
He soon moved to Cologne, where he lived just above the Jazz venue “Päff” for about 5 years. His particular talent however lay with classical music, since after being a music student for only about one year, he won the Cologne University award for flute in 1973. In early 1974 he became solo flutist of the Rheinische Philharmonie Koblenz and in November 1974 assistant solo flutist of the Symphony Orchestra of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), where he continued to work until his retirement in November 2014.
In 1977 he became a principal teacher for flute at the Kölner Musikhochschule, which lasted until 2002 and established his reputation as one of Germanys most successful flute educators. For 8 years he was solo flutists at the Bayreuth Festival, he played in numerous chamber orchestras as a solo flutist or soloist and was a member of multiple different chamber music constellations such as the Consortium Classicum.
In addition to being a musician himself, he was a member of the managing board of the WDR Symphyony orchestra, a representative of the music professors and a member of the WDR staff council. Consequentially, he always had a political view on music. He intensified this interest by further studies in “culture management”, and in 1996/97 spent a sabbatical in New York City and Paris, with the Loft representing the result.
His enthusiasm for music in all its facets never left him, so one of the most active persons in Cologne’s free scene is man from the classical orchestra, and even that with full professionalism. He became an honorary member of the Kölner Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (KGNM) in 1998. Since December 2014 he is retired.
In February 2015, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany honored him with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his honorary work.
Some memories of a time without the LOFT still exist somewhere in his brain, but neither can he remember where he exactly stored them, nor is he sure whether it is worth keeping them: since the first hours in November 1987 does Urs Benedikt Müller – the son of the LOFT-entrepreneur Hans Martin Müller – actively participate in developing the LOFT. Although during the earlier years he was strongly attracted to the table tennis table in the 2nd floor, he soon became involved in the daily routine, i.e. programming and organizing concerts, taking care of the web-page etc.
After his Abitur (the end of highschool) at Gymnasium Kreuzgasse Köln – a school rich in tradition, already Alexander von Schlippenbach had finished highschool here – and the completion of his social service in Cologne, Urs Benedikt started to study Biology (Major: Genetics) at the University of Cologne in 2003. After he had spent some time abroad (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, 2007), he received his Diploma in Molecular Genetics (“with honours”) in 2009, and in the same year started his PhD studies at the Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne. During his research, he spent extended periods of time in the field in India, Brazil and Portugal, and upon return finished his PhD in Molecular Parasitology in 2014 “magna cum laude“. In spring 2017, he left the University to dedicate himself completely to the LOFT for some time. He conceptualised a new website, improved communication and programming and has since become a shaping figure of Colognes vibrant Jazz scene: since September 2016 he serves as one of three elected spokespersons of the Cologne Jazz Conference (Kölner Jazzkonferenz), the lobby for Jazz and improvised music in Cologne.