Book Recommendation: Theremin – Ether Music And Espionage (A. Glinsky)

No fluffy summer reading for the beach, more something for long autumn evenings or winter evenings: The THEREMIN biography by Albert Glinsky. With a foreword by Robert Moog (who else?) and available in English only. 400 pages full to the brim with explosive and currently highly topical history (USSR, USA), with important personalities of the 20th century and with electronic instruments that surrounded Lev Sergeyevich Termen (aka Leon Theremin ).

Since musician and physician Leon Theremin (1896 – 1993) spent about 90% of his life in the USSR and just about 10% in the USA, the historical and world political overview given by this book is of great importance. Cold War, KGB, Lenin (and Stalin), the UNO and JAZZ – the Theremin biography reads like a surreal crime novel.

The foreword by Robert Moog is just as exciting. After all, theremin was regarded as a great role model for Moog and prompted him to build electronic instruments – albeit indirectly through the RCA theremins available in the USA and through the musician Clara Rockmore. By the way, in 1989 there was a late meeting between Moog and Theremin (and other personalities) – at a music festival in Bourges / France.

Lev Termen (Leon Theremin), long believed to be dead (he was imprisoned in Russia), had a respectable arsenal of inventions to show – in the musical area (Termenvox/Theremin, Keyboard Harmonium, Rhythmicon, Electronic Cello …), but also in military and other areas. Theremins influence on electronic music is undisputed, just as he is considered a major precursor to the development of early synthesizers.

The biography is an “attempt” to approach the myth of the theremin. Many records and documents – especially those from the long USSR period – are no longer available. And Lev Sergeyevich Termen himself repeatedly told some episodes of his life in completely different ways and named people imprecisely (e.g. Albert Einstein versus Alfred Einstein).

“I have run into dead-ends, tied up loose ends, and in general had no end of frustration in trying to separate the truth from legend in Theremin’s life.” (A. Glinsky)

Available on Amazon.

Theremin: Ether Music And Espionage (A. Glinsky)

Paperback, 400 pages
ISBN 0-252-07275-8

Price: approx. 29 USD / Euros


Video “A brief history of the Theremin” (with Albert Glinsky):
(interesting, but surely no substitute for the book (o:)

Filed under 2022, Books, General

“Es genügt, einen Ton schön zu spielen” sagte der Komponist Arvo Pärt im Jahre 2005. Diese Aussage ist ebenso einfach wie ich auch exzellent: Es braucht kein Meer an Tönen, denn entscheidend ist der Klang. Dass so mancher Vintage-Synthesizer der 70er und 80er Jahre teils unerreicht hochwertige Klänge liefert, steht außer Frage. Doch tatsächlich leben wir “heute” in einer nahezu perfekten Zeit. Einerseits hat man – mehr oder weniger – noch Zugriff auf die Vintage Analogen, andererseits wird auch bei Neugeräten die wichtige Komponente des hochwertigen Klanges wieder zunehmend berücksichtigt. Doepfer, Cwejman,, MacBeth, Moog, GRP, Studio Electronics, COTK, John Bowen und andere Hersteller bauen hervorragende Synthesizer, die den “Klassikern” in nichts nachstehen. All diesen (alten wie neuen) “großartigen” Instrumenten ist Great Synthesizers gewidmet. _________________________________________________________ In 2005 composer Arvo Pärt said: “Playing one tone really well is enough”. In other words, it is sufficient to play one tone 'beautifully'. I agree with that. All musical efforts are focused on the sound itself. Although I studied classical music (piano and drums), it’s the electronic sound that inspires me. Synthesizers are the epitome of new sounds and exciting tonal spheres. Today, many companies produce high-quality - excellent! - synthesizers: Doepfer, Cwejman, MacBeth, Moog, GRP,, COTK, Studio Electronics, John Bowen and others. It's their products I'm really interested in ... apart from Vintage Synthesizers, which I have been collecting for 20 years. Subsequent to our former websites Bluesynths and Blogasys, Peter Mahr and I have now created GreatSynthesizers. We hope you like it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.