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This Week From Hearts of Space: PGM 959 ETHEROPHONIC

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About this program from Hearts of Space Stephen Hill tells us:

“You’re listening to the first wholly electronic musical instrument: the theremin, invented in 1920 by a 21-year old Russian physics student named LEV TERMEN. It emerged out of Russian government research into proximity sensors. Today, every smartphone has them, but back then it was cutting-edge technology.

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No less a historical figure than VLADIMIR LENIN was so impressed by the theremin that he took lessons to play it, and sent young Termen around the world to demonstrate it as an example of Russian scientific achievement.

Lev Terman arrived in New York in 1927 and became LEON THEREMIN. The original name for his instrument was the aetherphone or etherophone, later the Theremin and Thereminvox. It was the first musical instrument played entirely without touching: metal wands for pitch and volume are controlled by the position and movement of the hands and body in air, which makes it very difficult to play.

The first real virtuoso of the theremin was a former Russian violinist named CLARA ROCKMORE, who developed a technique called aerial fingering. With this, she could play Romantic classics like this Rachmaninoff Vocalise, as well as the eerie sci-fi soundtracks for which the instrument became known. The late ROBERT MOOG of Moog synthesizer fame built theremins and sold theremin kits, and today the instrument remains a kind of cult classic among electronic musicians.

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On this transmission of Hearts of Space, the theremin and some of its ethereal electronic descendants, on a program called ETHEROPHONIC. Music is by CLARA ROCKMORE, ARMEN RA, GEVORG DABAGIAN, DJIVAN GASPARYAN, MICHAEL MUSED, MAITREYA, BERNARD XOLOTL & DANIEL KOBIALKA, and ROBERT MARGOULEFF & MALCOLM CECIL.

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Stephen Hill

From The program:
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