A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS

Lev Sergeyevich Termen

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August 27, 1896: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) is born at 50 Nicolayevska Street, apt.4 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire, the first of two children born to Sergey Emilyevich Termen, a lawyer, and Yevgenia Antonova Orzhinskaya, of noble birth.
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October 5, 1921: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (25) gives his public debut with his new instrument which he calls the Etherphone, at the Eighth All-Union Electro-Technical Congress in Moscow Polytechnical Museum. He plays a number of classical examples, including Tchaikovsky (†27) and Saint-Saëns (85), and is given a thunderous ovation.
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December 19, 1922: Urged on by Lenin to encourage electrification and modernization, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (26) begins a tour with his Etherphone with a one-man show in the Grand Hall of the Petrograd Philharmonic Society. There is a light show and various other new instruments. Among the audience are Alyeksandr Glazunov (57) and Dmitri Shostakovich (16).
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May 2, 1924: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (27) appears as soloist with the Leningrad Philharmonic in the first performance of A Symphonic Mystery by Andrei Filippovich Pashchenko. It is the first composition written specifically for the Termenvox.
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May 24, 1924: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (27) marries Yekaterina Pavlovna Konstantinova. She is the sister of Termen’s best friend and the daughter of a building contractor who disappeared during the revolution. Katia is presently a student at the Petrograd Medical Institute.
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September 15, 1924: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (28) receives a Soviet patent for his new electronic instrument.
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November 21, 1925: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (29) signs his rights to the Termenvox over to the German firm of MJ Goldberg und Söhne GmbH in Berlin. This is a way for the Soviet Union to enter into western industry. Anyone interested in the device will think they are dealing with Germans, not Soviets.
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June 7, 1926: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (29) defends his thesis at the Physico-Technical Institute in Leningrad. Before 200 students and faculty he demonstrates his “Mechanism of Electric Distance Vision.” (television)
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July 20, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (30) departs the Soviet Union with a quartet from the Moscow Philharmonic to spread the word about his invention and Soviet technology. His first destination is Berlin. His wife remains in Leningrad for insurance.
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September 27, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives his Berlin debut in the Bechsteinsaal. It is an invited audience of musicians, scientists, and politicians including Albert Einstein and Bruno Walter. It is a great success.
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October 2, 1927: The Berliner Tageblatt devotes half of a page to Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) and the excellence of his invention. A laudatory article also appears in the New York Times.
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October 7, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives a second demonstration in Berlin, at the Beethovensaal.
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October 25, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) appears in Hamburg to demonstrate his musical device.
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October 31, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives a third concert in Berlin.
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November 5, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) demonstrates his new device in Cologne.
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November 17, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives a fourth concert in Berlin.
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December 6, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) demonstrates his new musical device before a sold out crowd in the Salle des Concerts in the Maison Gaveau, Paris.
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December 8, 1927: The performance by Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) of two days ago was so successful, he repeats the evening at the much larger Paris Opéra. It is sold out. Press and public are dumbfounded.
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December 10, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) demonstrates his device to an invited group of elite scientists and musicians at the Savoy Hotel in London.
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December 12, 1927: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives a recital on his Thereminovox at Albert Hall, London. The reaction is stunned amazement, the audience rushing the stage and demanding encores. The press is mixed.
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December 21, 1927: After a tour of several European cities with his new electronic instrument, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) arrives in New York.
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January 24, 1928: In a private demonstration in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel, New York, organized by Walter Damrosch, Edsel Ford, Fritz Kreisler, and others, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) performs upon his new electronic musical instrument before invited guests including Sergey Rakhmaninov (54), Arturo Toscanini, and Joseph Szigeti.
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January 31, 1928: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives a debut recital on his Thereminovox entitled “Music from the Ether” at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. It is well received.
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February 28, 1928: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) receives a US patent for his electronic musical invention, the Thereminovox, in Washington.
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March 12, 1928: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) demonstrates his musical device in the Stevens Hotel, Chicago. Afterwards, he gives a lesson to Frederick Stock, conductor of the Chicago Symphony.
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March 21, 1928: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives a concert on his Thereminovox in Orchestra Hall, Detroit. Tomorrow, the front page of the Detroit Free Press will be devoted entirely to the event.
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July 21, 1928: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31) gives a concert on his Thereminovox before 20,000 at Coney Island, New York, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra. It is a meeting of the Communist Party of the USA and Termen is hailed as a workers’ hero.
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July 27, 1928: Katia Termen arrives in New York from France to join her husband Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (31).
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August 27, 1928: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (32) and three of his students perform upon four of the new electronic musical instruments with the New York Philharmonic in Lewisohn Stadium. Among the works on the program are the Vocalise of Sergey Rakhmaninov (55) and Hungarian Rhapsody no.1 by Franz Liszt (†42).
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October 7, 1928: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (32) completes his performance year in the United States with a concert in Symphony Hall, Boston. It is not as well attended as earlier evenings, but the response is good.
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March 12, 1929: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (32) and Yuri Mikhailovich Goldberg sign an agreement with the Radio Corporation of America. RCA will pay Goldberg and Sons $100,000 for a two-year option on the patent rights for the Thereminovox, a royalty of 5% on all units sold with a minimum annual royalty of $25,000. RCA also has the option, at the end of two years, to buy the patent outright for $500,000 or continue the option.
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April 22, 1929: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (32) founds the Migos Corporation to fulfill the RCA contract of 12 March.
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September 13, 1929: RCA buys an option from Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (33) for his prototype television.
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September 25, 1929: A Theremin is heard on the radio for the first time when the inventor, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (33) plays music of Chopin (†80) and Rubinstein (†34) from the Radio World’s Fair in Madison Square Garden, New York over the WJZ network.
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November 28, 1929: The First Airphonic Suite for Thereminovox and orchestra by Joseph Schillinger (34) is performed for the first time, in Cleveland with Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (33) as soloist.
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January 18, 1930: The National Broadcasting Company begins a series of syndicated programs featuring the Theremin. In the opening episode, the inventor, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (33), plays music of Rakhmaninov (56), Brahms (†33) and Chopin (†78).
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April 25, 1930: Ten Victor Theremins, a group of ten people playing Theremins, debuts at Carnegie Hall in what must be the first all-electronic orchestra. Among the performers are the inventor, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (33) and Wallingford Riegger (44).
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August 18, 1930: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (33) forms the Theremin Television Corporation.
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March 7, 1931: Henry Cowell (33) gives $200 to Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (34) for the invention and construction of an instrument which will be known as the rhythmicon.
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January 19, 1932: The Rhythmicon is demonstrated for the first time, at the New School for Social Research in New York. The instrument is a result of the collaboration of Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (35) and Henry Cowell (34).
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April 1, 1932: 16 performers take part in the Theremin Electrical Symphony Orchestra in a concert by Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (35) at Carnegie Hall. Although not suspected at the time, it is his last important public performance.
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December 22, 1932: M. Boyd Zinman and Emanuel S. Morgenstern form the Teletouch Corporation in New York. The Vice-President of the new firm is Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (36). The original idea of the company is to develop burglar alarms.
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February 23, 1933: The Migos Corporation assigns all patents of Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (36) to Teletouch Corporation. See 22 December 1932.
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January 20, 1935: Lucie Rosen makes her official debut as Theremin virtuoso in a recital in Town Hall, New York. The instrument malfunctions at one point and the inventor, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (39) comes on stage to fix it.
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July 14, 1936: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (39) receives a US patent for a DC to AC inverter.
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August 14, 1937: Clara Rockmore performs Ernst Bloch’s (57) Schelomo on the Theremin with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The inventor, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (40), is in the audience.
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August 31, 1938: In great personal and business financial difficulty, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin)(42) grants complete power of attorney to M. Boyd Zinman. He plans to return to the USSR.
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September 15, 1938: In virtual financial ruin, and with identification forged by the Soviet government, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (42) boards the freighter Stary Bolshevik in New York to return to the USSR. He is told that his wife will join him soon. She has the feeling he is being taken against his will. Termen travels clandestinely to avoid the US Internal Revenue Service, to whom he owes money.
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March 10, 1939: NKVD agents arrest Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (42) at the Hotel Kievskaya in Moscow and take him to Butyrka Prison. All of his possessions are confiscated.
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March 20, 1939: In a Moscow prison, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (42) is forced to sign a confession that he belonged to a fascist organization and spied for foreign countries. See 15 August 1939.
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August 15, 1939: In an office in Butyrka Prison, Moscow, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (42) is sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. He will be sent to Kolyma, in the far northeast of the country. See 20 March 1939.
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June 27, 1947: Three months after what should have been the end to his eight-year sentence, the Soviet government decides to release Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (50) from prison. See 20 March 1939.
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October 14, 1957: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (61) is “completely rehabilitated” by the Soviet government.
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April 26, 1967: An article by Harold Schonberg in the New York Times reveals to the west that Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (70) is still alive and working in Moscow. Soon, Termen will lose his position and his instruments will be destroyed.
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June 26, 1975: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (78) receives a Soviet patent for a “polyphonic termenvox.”
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June 13, 1989: In Bourges, France a four-day symposium on electronic music presents some of the giants in the history of the field. During the conference, Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (92) makes his first appearance outside the Soviet Union since the 1930s.
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September 27, 1991: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) (95) is present at a concert at Stanford University in his honor. It is his first trip to the United States in 53 years. He spontaneously breaks into Midnight in Moscow . See 15 September 1938.
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November 3, 1993: Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) dies in Moscow, Russia, aged 97 years, two months, and 19 days.
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November 14, 1993: A service in memory of Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) is held at the Moscow Composers’ House. His earthly remains will be interred at Kuncevskoye Cemetery, Moscow.