Cover for GLINSKY: Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage. Click for larger image

Theremin

Ether Music and Espionage
Awards and Recognition:

Winner of an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, 2001.

The riveting story of an eccentric musician-scientist turned Soviet spook

Leon Theremin led a life of flamboyant musical invention laced with daring electronic stealth. A creative genius and prolific inventor, Theremin launched the field of electronic music virtually singlehandedly in 1920 with the musical instrument that bears his name. The theremin-–the only instrument that is played without being touched-–created a sensation worldwide and paved the way for the modern synthesizer. Its otherworldly sound became familiar in sci-fi films and even in rock music. This magical instrument that charmed millions, however, is only the beginning of the story.

As a Soviet scientist, Theremin surrendered his life and work to the service of State espionage. On assignment in Depression-era America, he became the toast of New York society and worked the engines of capitalist commerce while passing data on U.S. industrial technology to the Soviet apparat. Following his sudden disappearance from New York in 1938, Theremin was exiled to a Siberian labor camp and subsequently vanished into the top-secret Soviet intelligence machine, presumed dead for nearly thirty years. Using the same technology that lay behind the theremin, he designed bugging devices that eavesdropped on U.S. diplomatic offices and stood at the center of a pivotal cold war confrontation. Throughout his life, Theremin developed many other electronic wonders, including one of the earliest televisions and multimedia devices that anticipated performance art and virtual reality by decades.

In this first full biography of Leon Theremin, Albert Glinsky depicts the inventor's nearly one hundred-year life span as a microcosm of the twentieth century. Theremin is seen at the epicenter of most of the major events of the century: the Russian Revolution, two world wars, America's Great Depression, Stalin's purges, the cold war, and perestroika. His life emerges as no less than a metaphor for the divergence of communism and capitalism.

Theremin blends the whimsical and the treacherous into a chronicle that takes in everything from the KGB to Macy's store windows, Alcatraz to the Beach Boys, Hollywood thrillers to the United Nations, Joseph Stalin to Shirley Temple. Theremin's world of espionage and invention is an amazing drama of hidden loyalties, mixed motivations, and an irrepressibly creative spirit.

"Glinsky has traced the fascinating story of Lev Termen, Russian scientist, radio engineer and inventor of the first electronic musical instrument. The haunting wail of the 'theremin' is perhaps best known from the Beach Boys' 1966 hit 'Good Vibrations', but Glinsky demonstrates that its inventor deserves to be more than a footnote in the history of modern music. . . . A fascinating rediscovery of a forgotten man, and a valuable contribution to the history of the future."--London Times

"Glinsky unfolds an impossibly rich narrative with clarity, breadth, and a contagious sense of excitement. . . . A barely imaginable life, lived, to the last, by a true enigma."--David Toop, Bookforum

"Albert Glinsky's splendid and authoritative biography of Leon Theremin is the first complete recounting of an amazing life that spanned--and changed--the twentieth century."--Tim Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist

"With Theremin, Albert Glinsky has created an amazing new thriller biography. As a guide book through the twentieth century, Theremin is an incredible story of invention, music, history, science, and espionage--a celebration of pure creativity."--David Harrington, Kronos Quartet

Albert Glinsky is an award-winning composer whose music has been performed throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Far East. He holds degrees from The Juilliard School and a Ph.D. from New York University, and his work has been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania. Robert Moog developed the original classic Moog electronic music synthesizer and has been designing and building theremins since 1954. Currently he is the president of Moog Music Inc., the world's leading manufacturer of theremins.

To order online:
http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/98mgt7tm9780252072758.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States

A Field-to-Kitchen Guide

Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller

The Neighborhood Outfit

Organized Crime in Chicago Heights

Louis Corsino

Roots of the Revival

American and British Folk Music in the 1950s

Ronald D. Cohen and Rachel Clare Donaldson

Winning the War for Democracy

The March on Washington Movement, 1941-1946

David Lucander

The Civil War Diary of Gideon Welles, Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy

The Original Manuscript Edition

Gideon Welles Edited by William E. Gienapp and Erica L. Gienapp

Covering Bin Laden

Global Media and the World's Most Wanted Man

Edited by Susan Jeffords and Fahed Al-Sumait

NFL Football

A History of America's New National Pastime

Richard C. Crepeau

Ray Bradbury Unbound

Jonathan R. Eller

The Voice in the Drum

Music, Language, and Emotion in Islamicate South Asia

Richard K. Wolf

Yankee Twang

Country and Western Music in New England

Clifford R. Murphy

Jane Addams in the Classroom

Edited by David Schaafsma