One of the earliest electronic musical instruments is celebrating perhaps its biggest milestone, giving a community dedicated to it cause for celebration. Led by master thereminist Dorit Chrysler, the NY Theremin Society has announced the release of a compilation album titled Theremin 100 to coincide with the theremin’s 100th birthday.
Among the more notable contributors to the 50-track album are Bruce Woolley, Charlie Draper, Lydia Kavina and Masami Takeuchi. It consists entirely of original works chosen to provide a cross section of the innumerable music genres in which the theremin has been incorporated.
The theremin was named after Léon Theremin, a Russian inventor who conceived of the device in 1920 and patented it in 1928. The instrument uses two antennae to control oscillators and amplitude; each one senses the relative proximity of its operator’s hands.
The first theremin composition is widely considered to be “Bury Me, Bury Me Wind” by Dutch composer Thorwald Jørgensen, which was specifically written for Léon Theremin. It also appeared in songs by the likes of The Beach Boys and Led Zeppelin in addition to becoming a staple of sci-fi films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing from Another World.
On February 8th, 2020, the NY Theremin Society will celebrate the album release with an event called 100 Years of Theremin at the Bushwick Methodist Church in Brooklyn. It will commence with a tribute to Clara Rockmore, widely considered the first female electronic musician, by American composer Laurie Spiegel. Listen to Theremin 100 in its entirety via Bandcamp.