One of Germany's most successful electronic acts of the early 21st century, trance/ambient project Schiller has routinely topped the album charts in its native country. Originally a duo formed by Christopher von Deylen and Mirko von Schlieffen, Schiller debuted with 1999's Zeitgeist, an epic suite of rhapsodic trance instrumentals with spoken word interludes. The duo's second album, 2001's Weltreise, featured guest singers Kim Sanders (Culture Beat, Captain Hollywood Project) and Peter Heppner (Wolfsheim) as well as downtempo tunes, and became a surprise hit, reaching the pole position on the German album chart and eventually going platinum. After von Schlieffen left, Schiller remained a solo project of von Deylen, who continued releasing successful albums containing collaborations with singers and musicians such as Sarah Brightman, Mike Oldfield, Midge Ure, and myriad others. Many of Schiller's albums have been repackaged for English-speaking markets, with translated titles and re-recorded lyrics, and nearly all of their albums have been released in expansive deluxe editions, with DVDs and bonus material. Beginning with 2004's Live ErLeben, Schiller regularly followed studio albums with live recordings, in addition to releasing a tour-only series of ambient CDs titled Die Einlassmusik. While albums such as 2010's Atemlos and 2012's Sonne were more pop-influenced, Schiller ventured into classical music with 2013's Opus.
Christopher von Deylen and Mirko von Schlieffen formed Schiller in 1998, naming the project after German poet Friedrich Schiller. Debut single "Das Glockenspiel" appeared that year, and it reached the top 40 of the German and Swiss singles charts; it also became their only hit in England, charting at number 17. Debut full-length Zeitgeist was released in 1999, containing two additional hit singles, "Liebesschmerz" and "Ruhe." While Zeitgeist was club-focused and strictly contained trance music, the duo began branching out into ambient, downtempo, and synth pop with 2001 follow-up Weltreise (alternately released as Voyage). The album included contributions from singers Kim Sanders and Peter Heppner as well as spoken word passages by voice actors Otto Sander, Benjamin Völz, and Franziska Pigulla, in addition to guitar and orchestral arrangements. The album topped the German album chart for four weeks, and the Heppner-sung "Dream of You" became one of Schiller's biggest hit singles, reaching number 13 in Germany. Von Schlieffen left Schiller after the album was recorded, and von Deylen continued using the name.
Leben (also released as Life), Schiller's first album without von Schlieffen as well as its first to be released by Island, came out in 2003. Along with returning guests Heppner and Sanders, singers included Sarah Brightman, Maya Saban, and Mila Mar. Single "Leben...I Feel You" (with Heppner) reached number one in Poland and Romania, and was a U.S. club hit as well. Live ErLeben, the first of Schiller's many concert recordings, appeared in 2004. Fourth studio album Tag und Nacht (Day and Night) was released in 2005, with guests including English progressive rock legend Mike Oldfield and Irish folk singer Moya Brennan. Also appearing that year was Prologue, an American release of one of Schiller's tour-only ambient albums. Live CD/DVD Tagtraum was released in 2006. Ambitious double-album Sehnsucht (Desire) appeared in 2008, including collaborations with Xavier Naidoo, Ana Torroja, Helen Boulding, and Klaus Schulze, among many others. It became Schiller's second number one album in Germany. Singles "Time for Dreams" (with Lang Lang) and "You" (with Colbie Caillat), originally released on Sehnsucht Live before being included on the single-disc "Standard Edition" of Sehnsucht, both reached the Top 20.
Studio albums Atemlos (Breathless) and Lichtblick (billed as an EP despite its length), as well as Atemlos Live and compilation Timeline, all appeared in 2010; guests across these releases included Anggun, Midge Ure, Nadia Ali, and Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit. Seventh proper album Sonne (Sun) was released in 2012, and became Schiller's third number one album; the project's next three studio albums would also repeat this achievement. The album's title track, a collaboration with German band Unheilig, reached number 12 on the singles chart, becoming Schiller's highest-charting song in its native country; other guests on the album included Adam Young (Owl City), Andrea Corr (the Corrs), and Paper Aeroplanes. After Sonne Live was released in 2013, Deutsche Grammophon sublabel Panorama released Schiller's classical-influenced Opus, which featured musicians such as Russian operatic soprano Anna Netrebko, French pianist Hélène Grimaud, and German oboist Albrecht Mayer. The album included interpretations of pieces by Tchaikovsky, Satie, Debussy, and other composers. Symphonia, a live recording containing orchestral versions of past Schiller tunes, was released in 2014. Future, a cinematic album inspired by time von Deylen spent in the Mojave desert, was released in 2016; guest vocalists included Maggie Szabo, Emma Hewitt, and Cristina Scabbia, while actress Sharon Stone wrote lyrics for one song. Career-spanning releases Zeitreise and Zeitreise Live also appeared at the close of the year. In 2017, Schiller became the first electronic musician to perform a concert in Tehran, Iran. 2019 studio album Morgenstund included collaborations with Iranian musicians Pouya Saraei and Pirooz Arjmand, as well as German new wave singer Nena, legendary producer Giorgio Moroder, and Thorsten Quaeschning of fellow electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream. ~ Paul Simpson