Inventor of the Theremin, and leading Russian ScientistInventor of the Theremin
Leon Theremin invented a number of musical instruments. The Most well known is of course, the Theremin; though he also went on to develop the Terpistone, the Theremin Cello, and the Rhythmicon. He built many instruments specifically for composers, ensembles, or performers.
However, the inventions do not stop there. Theremin developed what was at the time the leading patent for mechanical colour television, he invented alarm systems for use in banks and prisons, anti - kidnap devices (!), and most notoriously 'Buran' (The Bug), with which the Soviet Authorities bugged the American Embassy for many years.
Theremin played his most famous invention to Lenin, in Paris, all over Germany, in England's Royal Albert Hall, and all over the US, including Carnegie Hall, where standing room was sold in the boxes for the first time ever. Later, when he established his 'studios', he would lead the ensembles he created, and coach new students in the art of the theremin.
The Rhythmicon realised the compositional intentions of Schillinger and Cowell by the only means possible at the time - mechanics. The work of Schillinger and Bute on an animated film may not have happened at all without Theremin. When Stokowski wished to reinforce the bass section of his orchestra, he drafted in Professor Theremin, who specially designed a 'bass' theremin for him. Varese's Integral was written with two custom-made cello theremins in mind, and when Grainger realised his 'Free Music', the theremin was his instrument of choice.
Leon Theremin brought electronic music into every household, and captured the imagination of a nation. As a catalyst for the rise of electronic music, Leon Theremin could not have played a better role. The father of electronic music? Most probably. Theremin was allowed to visit the United States once more, a few years before his death in 1993, during which time he lectured as a guest of Stanford University, and demonstrated his theremin to an enthralled audience.
Leon Theremin died in November 1993, in Moscow at the age of 97. He left a legacy so great, and a story so remarkable, that he will never be forgotten.
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