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review of bio about LEON THEREMIN

thought some might be interested.....:)m

In electronic music's history, mystery and Cold War — related speculation
have shrouded the life and work of one man: Leon Theremin. Albert Glinsky's
biography Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage pieces together, for the first
time in English, the facts about the inventor once known in his homeland as
“the Russian Edison.”
Glinsky creates spy novel — worthy suspense as he unravels the schemes
Theremin and his associates used to cloak their work. The author explores a
number of interesting themes, including Theremin's lifelong interest in
reanimating the dead.
All Things Theremin Lev Sergeyevich Termen was born in St. Petersburg,
Russia, in 1896. As a young man, he excelled in science, engineering, and
music. That interesting subject combination helped him — while still in his
early 20s — to conceive the electronic instrument that would bear his name.
The theremin's success gave the inventor opportunities unheard of for Soviet
citizens of the time. Theremin toured Europe promoting his instrument, which
was as much a propaganda tool as he was. The concertizing led to a visit to
New York City, where Theremin remained from 1927 to 1938. The revelations
about Theremin's sudden departure from New York under mysterious
circumstances and his whereabouts for several decades are what make the book
most historically important.
As expected, Glinsky details the theremin's production and marketing. He also
covers Theremin's many other inventions, including an early form of
television, a polyphonic keyboard instrument, an aircraft altimeter,
electronic security devices, and the bugging technologies used by the KGB.
In addition, the book documents Theremin's interaction with many important
personalities of the 20th century. In the Soviet Union he gave a private
demonstration of his “etherphone” to Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
(who believed it would be “an ideal propaganda tool for electricity”). In
the musical world, Theremin worked with composers Joseph Schillinger, Nicolas
Slonimsky, Edgard Varèse, and Henry Cowell (for whom he built the
rhythmicon), and conductor Leopold Stokowski.
Glinsky's attention to historic detail vividly displays the arbitrary manner
in which millions of Soviet citizens' lives were devastated by those in
power. It's difficult to imagine how anyone could survive what Theremin was
subjected to, let alone remain productive. Yet he outlived the political
system that controlled — often destroyed — his work and kept him a
second-class citizen. Glinsky portrays Theremin as a man determined to
fulfill his creative urges despite continual setbacks. When Theremin emerges
from the shadows in Moscow in an unexpected encounter with his old friend and
theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, one cannot help but marvel at the melding
of luck, cunning, and naïveté.
Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage is an important book for readers
interested in the theremin or electronic music's history. The book is
exhaustively researched and engagingly written, and it includes an insightful
forward by Robert Moog. Glinsky's exceptional portrayal of Leon Theremin is
more than a mere music-related biography. I recommend Theremin: Ether Music
and Espionage to anyone who enjoys reading about 20th-century history or
Soviet-American relations.