Kepler Salon
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Lectures / 07/10/2009 7:30 pm

Art and Science?
Programmbild Kunst und Wissenschaft?

Theremin – an instrument and its inventor. Ether music meets world politics

The theremin is named after its inventor Leon Theremin. This lecture will focus on the connection between the inventor’s biography and the invention as such. The development of the instrument had a great impact on the life of the inventor; it made him an international celebrity early in life, a KGB spy, a New York-based millionaire, a political prisoner back in the Soviet Union and a Stalin Prize winner. His life (1896–1993) spans the entire history of the Soviet Union and his remarkable biography, which is so rich in contradictions, shows him in his double role as a player taking an active part in 20th century world politics and as an individual at the mercy of global developments.
The theremin had a career that is of similar interest to that of its inventor. The fact that it is played without actually being touched exerted great fascination. It appeared in concerts of the New York Philharmonic and in Hollywood films of the ’40s and ’50s, one of the climaxes being its use in the film score of Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”. In spite of all this the theremin has been restricted to a niche phenomenon.

continuative links:

  • www.ima.or.at/theremin/
  • www.thereminworld.com
  • spellbound.purplenote.com/index.php


  • Albert Glinsky, Robert Moog, Theremin – Ether Music and Espionage, Champaign, IL 2005. (umfassende Biografie)
  • Bulat Galeyev, Der Sowjetische Faust, Kasan 1995, russisch (teilweise Übersetzungen auf www.ima.or.at, siehe Link-Liste)


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07/10/2009 7:30 pm
Lecturer: Günther Gessert
Host: Elfie Schulz


Programmbild Kunst und Wissenschaft?