Theremin Virtuoso Passes Unnoticed (1998) - from the Archives

Theremin Virtuoso Passes Unnoticed

The Fritz
Daniel Voznick 1998

Clara Rockmore
March 9, 1911 May 10, 1998

Clara Rockmore - she was perhaps the virtuoso of the Theremin, that strange electronic instrument that you don't touch to play, whose sound can best be described as a disembodied human voice.

Born in Russia as Clara Reisenberg, the youngest of three musically talented sisters, her perfect pitch and understanding of music earned her a spot studying violin at The Imperial Conservatory of Music in St. Petersburg at the age of 5. At the age of nine, she was allowed to leave Russia, touring extensively in Europe and America and finally landing in New York in 1927.

There she met Leon Theremin and was introduced to his electronic instrument. Said to have been romantically involved for a brief time with Theremin, she later married Robert Rockmore in 1933. The following year, she performed her first solo Theremin concert, soon becoming the instrument's greatest champion. She toured widely as a guest soloist with major symphony orchestras and crossed the country three times touring with Paul Robeson.

With her death in May, another link has been lost to an era of forward-looking modernism, "anything goes" experimentalism and unselfconscious optimism.


Daniel Voznick, 1998

the fritz - Clara Rockmore Obituary - all rights reserved.

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