Theremin, Leon

Theremin, Leon thĕr´əmən [key], 1896–1993, Russian engineer and inventor, b. St. Petersburg as Lev Sergeyevich Termen. He studied and worked in his native city, attending its university and conservatory and directing a lab at one of its technical institutes, where he invented the theremin , an early electronic instrument. In 1927 he moved to New York City there he developed new musical instruments and other inventions. In 1938 he abruptly returned to the USSR many believe that Soviet agents kidnapped him. Accused of anti-Soviet activities, he was sent to a labor camp. During World War II, however, his talents were in demand and he was transferred to a military laboratory. There he invented submarine tracking systems, remote controls, and a miniature eavesdropping device. He later taught at the Moscow Conservatory and worked at the Moscow Polytechnic Institute.

See biography by A. Glinsky (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: History, Composers, and Performers: Biographies

Browse by Subject