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
Price: approx. 29 USD / Euros
- Leon Theremin (Wikipedia)
- University of Illinois Press
- Printemps Bourges (Music Festival in France)
- Book “Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage” (Amazon)
Video “A brief history of the Theremin” (with Albert Glinsky):
(interesting, but surely no substitute for the book (o:)