Clara Rockmore

Virtuoso Thereminist

Many people think of the theremin as cliched electronic effect used in film scores of the 50’s and 60’s. That is, until they hear the playing of Clara Rockmore.

Rockmore was born in Russia, and showed great musical talent as a child. She played the violin, and by the age of nine, was playing concerts with her concert pianist sister, Nadia. She traveled to New York for a tour, and at this time, she met Leon Theremin, the inventor of the theremin. The theremin is an electronic instrument that can be played without touching it, just by using gestures.

When Leon Theremin met Rockmore, he realized that she could make people realize that his design could be used as a real musical instrument. Theremin worked with Rockmore to refine his instrument designs. Rockmore went on to show audiences that the theremin was capable of being used to play the classics. This inspired new compositions specifically for the Theremin. She became a well-known performer, and is considered the greatest theremin player of all time.

She died in 1998, but she left behind a series of recordings that document the sound of the theremin, and her great skill as an electronic music performer.

Leave a Reply