Clara Rockmore plays Ravel’s Habanera

The theremin may suggest only 50s horror/scifi movies to you, but in the right hands it can sound almost like a viola.  Unfortunately for theremin enthusiasts, the actual viola was invented first.  But this number is worth a listen anyway.  I also recommend the 1994 theatrical documentary about Leon Theremin, his contribution to electronic music, and his remarkable life. 

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  1. cymast

     /  October 15, 2008

    Now I’m in the mood for Halloween! Madame Rockmore even looks like she would play the theremin, and also live in a haunted house, channel spirits, and speak in a deep, halting monotone. Her hand does what a suspended spider does when you get near it or breathe on it. Spooky!

  2. acilius

     /  October 15, 2008

    Well, yes. But when she was young, she had a warmer look about her.

    It’s no wonder Leon Theremin himself fell in love with her. And judging by the movie, THEREMIN: AN ELECTRONIC ODYSSEY, she was really a nice old lady, who lived in a very attractive Manhattan apartment.

  3. cymast

     /  October 15, 2008

    Is she channeling a spirit in that pic?

  4. acilius

     /  October 15, 2008

    Maybe. In the movie she looks perfectly all right, though, I assure you.

  5. cymast

     /  October 15, 2008

    So I guess THEREMIN: AN ELECTRONIC ODYSSEY wouldn’t make a good Halloween movie . .

  6. acilius

     /  October 15, 2008

    It would be a good movie for any occasion. Theremin’s life had some weird and scary parts. He was abducted from New York by Soviet secret agents in the 30s, taken back to the USSR, falsely reported to have defected voluntarily and then falsely reported to have died in World War Two, and forced to work on weapons research programs in a forced labor camp. It was only after decades in which his name could not be uttered in the Soviet Union that it was revealed that he was alive. He lived long enough to see Clara Rockmore again. Too much time had passed for them to rekindler their romance, but they did renew their friendship. It really is quite a story.

  7. cymast

     /  October 15, 2008

    What a strange life.

    Though isn’t love timeless?

  8. acilius

     /  October 15, 2008

    Well, they’d both gotten married to other people in the years since, he didn’t want to move back to the States, she didn’t want to move back to Russia, and they were decades older. It just wasn’t going to work out. But they do both seem to have been amazingly sweet people.

  9. cymast

     /  October 16, 2008

    Oh, they married other people- that explains a lot.

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