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People

Biographies of theremin players from the past and present, composers influenced by the theremin, and giants of theremin history.

Lydia Kavina (1967 - )

Theremin Virtuosa

The relationship between Lydia and Lev is this: Her mother's father was Lev's first cousin. Lydia's late mother was an accomplished player in her own right--a protegee of Lev's many years ago. But when little Lydia came along, she outshone her mother, and Lev took a special interest in her...


Clara Rockmore (1911 - 1998)

The 'Grand Dame' of the Theremin

Don't forget that you are dealing with air! Think of your fingers as delicate butterfly wings, and you will get much further than if you use strength"- Clara Rockmore The greatest exponent of the theremin, Clara Rockmore was more than just a performer. It was her comments and...


Leon Theremin (1896 - 1993)

Inventor of the Theremin, and leading Russian Scientist

Inventor 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...


Lennington Shewell ( - )

Theremin player employed by RCA to demonstrate its instrument

Lennington Heppe Shewell (opposite, in the centre), was employed by RCA to travel around the USA demonstrating the theremin as part of its marketing campaign. The older gentleman standing behind him is G. Dunbar Shewell, his father, and vice-president of RCA at the time. He was also an...


Musaire ( - )

Vaudeville performer and thereminist in the UK

'Musaire' (aka J. Forrest Whiteley), was a UK based theremin player, who frequently billed himself as 'Europe's only Thereminist'. He used the theremin as part of his collection of around twenty musical instruments, in a presentation designed to educate his audience in the physics of sound....


Bohuslav Martinu (1890 - 1959)

Composer of "Fantaisie for Theremin, Oboe, and String Quartet"

Martinu composed his "Fantaisie" in the September of 1944, completing it on the 1st October. The premiere took place on the 3rd November in New York, performed by its dedicatee, Lucie Bigelow Rosen (who had commissioned the work) as soloist, the Koutzen Quartet and Robert Boom. The...


Edgard Varese (1883 - 1965)

Electronic Pioneer

Varèse spent the first few years in the United States meeting important contributors to American music, promoting his vision of new electronic music instruments, conducting orchestras, and founding the New Symphony Orchestra. It was also around this time that Varèse began work on his first...


Henry Cowell (1897 - 1965)

Co-Inventor of the Rhythmicon

The American Avant-Garde composer Henry Dixon Cowell was largely self-educated, though studied musicology in Berlin (1931-32). He experimented with new musical resources; in his piano compositions he introduced the tone cluster, played with the arm or the fist, and wrote compositions to be played...


John Cage (1912 - 1992)

Experimental composer who experimented with the theremin

"When Theremin provided an instrument with genuinely new possibilities, thereminists did their utmost to make the instrument sound like some old instrument, giving it sickeningly sweet vibrato and performing on it, with difficulty, masterpieces of the past." Although I would like to...


Joseph Schillinger (1895 - 1943)

Composer and Theorist who wrote a number of works for theremin

"Music plus electricity equals the sound of the 20th century. 1 " - Joseph Schillinger, 1918 Another project Leon Theremin was involved in was the mechanical realisation of the ideas of the composer Joseph Schillinger. Schillinger (1891 - 1943) left Russia...


Percy Grainger (1882 - 1961)

Australian Composer, who realised his 'Free Music' using the Theremin

Grainger collaborated with Leon Theremin from 1936-37 before Theremin 'disappeared' back to the Soviet Union. Grainger wrote three pieces for the theremin. The score to Free Music No.1 was written down in Bigelow House (home of the Bigelow-Rosens). Unfortunately, it appears that the original...










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