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Theremin
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About the Author

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.

Reviews

The long and colorful life of Leon Theremin (1896-1993), the father of electronic music and inventor of the pioneering instrument that bears his name, virtually spanned the 20th century. As a young man in the new Soviet Union, he captivated Lenin with his "etherphone." While he worked in the United States in the late 1920s and 1930s, his electro-acoustic wonder was the rage of high New York society. Business failings and a cavalier attitude toward debts, however, forced him to return surreptitiously to the Soviet Union, where he was arrested on trumped-up charges and endured horrific conditions as a prisoner in a remote northern camp. Partially rehabilitated, he was drafted into the KGB, for which he successfully bugged the American Embassy. And, finally, as a nonagenarian during the glasnost era, he returned to the West and received his due accolades. Glinsky (music, Mercy-Hurst Coll.) spent 13 years researching this first full biography on Theremin. The fascinating crosscurrents in his lifeDand in that of the thereminDare engagingly told in rich detail. Glinsky's great accomplishment, besides his lucid descriptions of the technical aspects of the theremin, is his ability to paint a contextual scene both vividly and compellingly. Indeed, his chapter on the Gulag prison camp approaches the writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in its intensity. Highly recommended for all collections.DLarry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"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." Times Literary Supplement "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 "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." Bookforum "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

For this biography, Glinsky admirably resurrects the name of Leon Theremin, the Soviet inventor of an electronic musical instrument played by moving one's hands in the space between two antennae, but his use of Theremin's life as a metaphor for the Cold War leads him astray. An engineering prodigy, Theremin (1896-1993) invented his instrument early in the 20th century. The synthesizer's forerunner, the theremin was most often used in soundtracks for science fiction films; an advanced version was also used in the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations." According to Glinsky, Theremin was also a ladies' manÄmarried several times, he was rumored to be looking for female companionship when he was in his 90s. The inventor lived in the U.S. during the 1930s, where for a short time he was the toast of the town, but he quickly fell into debt. After he returned to the Soviet Union in 1938, he was arrested and spent time in a labor camp before he was freedÄonly to be forced to remain in service to the state. Glinsky, a composer and professor at Mercy Hurst College in Pennsylvania, is unable to resist the temptation to use Theremin as a metaphor for the political clash between communism and capitalism. Not only does this allegory lack nuanceÄGlinsky himself notes that U.S. leftists were persecuted, albeit on a much lesser scale, during the McCarthy eraÄbut the political focus clouds the author's portrait of Theremin's personality and prevents him from using his talents to evaluate Theremin's musical legacy. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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