Running time:
75 minutes, no break

The programme is subject to change

2 November 2019 Saturday 15.00 Small Hall
15.00 Small Hall

“Theremin’s 100 Anniversary”.
Bach, Caccini, Rachmaninov, 
Saint-Saëns, Rostovskaya

Olesya Rostovskaya, theremin
Mariya Martynova, piano
In 1927, an International Music Exhibition took place in Frankfurt am Main. A young scientist and inventor named Lev Termen (or Léon Theremin) represented Soviet Russia. Termen showcased his 1920’s invention, a brand new, unique music instrument, which he called “Termenvox” (his last name plus “vox”, Latin for voice). The instrument had a whole palette of unusual sounds, but no keyboards, or strings: there were only two antennas, and by moving hands around them a musician could change pitch, timbre, volume, etc. 

Termenvox was a great and immediate success, and Lev Termen was bombarded by invitations to Dresden, Hamburg, Nurnberg, Berlin… Those who have listened to the Termenvox play were enchanted by this “music of air”, “music of spheres”, “music of ether waves”. Some went so far as calling Termenvox “celestial”, names such as “spherophone” were used, too. 

By that time, the Soviet country had recognized the invention as a very important one, besides as a means of propaganda of “electrification” of the nation. A showcase in Kremlin was made in March of 1922, among the audience was Vladimir Lenin himself. Termen explained how his Thermenvox works, with Lenin trying to play Glinka’s “The Lark”. 

Few models of Thermenvox – or Theremin – exist nowadays, and the wide range includes either serial or unique custom instruments. Different schools of playing emerged, though there aren’t many professional “thereminists” exist even in Russia. 

One of those musicians is Olesya Rostovskaya, who also play church bells, carillon, composes music, and writes science articles. She had started her theremin lessons in late 1998, and it was as early as in April 1999 she played the instrument on stage. She is a pupil of Lidiya Kavina, a relative of Termin. Right from the start, Rostovskaya began composing for theremin; she didn’t spend much time with Kavina, though she mainly taught herself how to play the instrument watching and analyzing videos of the legendary Clara Rockmore (1911– 1998) playing the instrument. 

This time, Rostovskaya’s partner on stage is Mariya Martynova. The talented pianist is a Moscow Conservatory graduate. She performs chamber music, teaches children, and organizes music projects.

Photo: © Alexey Pogarsky, Yevgeny Bashmakov