Samuel Hoffman’s RCA Theremin
Peter (copperleaves) plays French chanteuse Edith Piaf’s hit from the 1940’s, La Vie En Rose:
In order to give the camera a better view of the inside, for the purpose of this video, I removed the two cabinet doors (which normally remain closed).
I am playing Dr. Samuel Hoffman took his 1929 RCA theremin with him when he moved from New York City to Los Angeles, California, in 1941. He eventually became world famous as “The Hollywood Thereminist” and the distinctive sound of his instrument can be heard on the soundtracks of over 40 major motion pictures of the 1940’s and 50’s.
Alfred Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND (music by Miklos Rosza), the SciFi classic THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (music by Bernard Herrmann) and Cecile B. deMille’s perennial THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, are just a few of the movies in which this theremin can be heard.
I acquired this unique vintage instrument from the Hoffman family in 1998 and have carefully maintained it and enjoyed playing it ever since. It sounds today just the way it sounded when the late Dr. Hoffman played it at the “Casino In The Air” on top of mid-town Manhattan’s Hotel Montclair in the 1930’s.
It’s rare to see an early instrument like this still in use, and even more of a treat to hear it used so well.