Theremin Lives!

Love Me TenderNinety years ago, Russian physicist Léon Theremin began his work on the instrument that would lay the groundwork for all of electronic music today: the theremin. While the instrument caught the attention of the world in its day — Lenin himself was an avid fan and player — it largely faded out of sight after the Forties, not least because of the extraordinary demands it placed upon performers. However, in the Fifties, an enterprising young man made a living by selling build-your-own theremin kits, and then went on to bigger and better things. The young man’s name: Robert Moog. And the rest, as they say, is history…

Today, the theremin is mostly remembered as the source of other-worldly sounds in horror and sci-fi films. However, in the hands of a skilled performer the instrument has a distinctive sound unlike any other, evoking the human voice and string instruments at once. Here are a few of the best (or strangest) examples:

Carolina Eyck — La Torre de la Alhambra (Frank Müller-Brys)
Randy George — Super Mario Brothers (Koji Kondo)
Thomas Grillo — The Swan (Camille Saint-Saëns)
Samuel Hoffman — You Were Meant for Me (Nacio Herb Brown)
Lydia Kavina - Clair de Lune (Claude Debussy)
Pamelia Kurstin — Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn)
Clara Rockmore — The Swan (Camille Saint-Saëns)
Rob Schwimmer — Scene d’Amour (Bernard Herrmann)
Masami Takeuchi — The Swan (Camille Saint-Saëns)
Theremin Orchestra of the 21st Century — Good Vibrations (Brian Wilson)

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