Clara Rockmore - Theremin's Virtuoso Performer

Biografia Clara Rockmore BiographyClara Rockmore (March 9, 1911 – May 10, 1998) was a Lithuanian virtuoso performer of the theremin, an electronic musical instrument. Born as Clara Reisenberg in Vilnius, Vilna Governorate (now Lithuania), Rockmore was a child prodigy on the violin and entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory at the age of five. She remains to this day the youngest student ever to be admitted to the institution. She studied violin under the virtuoso Leopold Auer. Unfortunately, bone problems due to childhood malnutrition forced her to abandon violin performance past her teen years. That, however, led her to discover the newborn electronic instrument the theremin, and become perhaps its most renowned player.

A virtuoso (from Italian virtuoso [virˈtwoːzo] or [virtuˈoːso], "virtuous", Late Latin virtuosus, Latin virtus, "virtue", "excellence", "skill", or "manliness") is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability in a particular art or field such as fine arts, music, singing, playing a musical instrument or composition. This word also refers to a person who has cultivated appreciation of artistic excellence, either as a connoisseur or collector. Virtuoso's plural form is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine forms are virtuosa and virtuose.

Biografia Clara Rockmore BiographyThe theremin (/ˈθɛrəmɪn/[1] THERR-ə-min; originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox) is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It is named after the Westernized name of its Russian inventor, Léon Theremin (Термéн), who patented the device in 1928. The instrument's controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the thereminist's hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker.

The theremin was used in movie soundtracks such as Miklós Rózsa's Spellbound, The Lost Weekend, and Bernard Herrmann's The Day the Earth Stood Still. It has also been used in theme songs for television shows such as the ITV drama Midsomer Murders. This has led to its association with eerie situations. Theremins are also used in concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th- and 21st-century new music) and in popular music genres such as rock.

Biografia Clara Rockmore BiographyRockmore's classical training gave her an advantage over the many other theremin performers of the time. She possessed absolute pitch, helpful in playing an instrument that generates tones of any pitch throughout its range, not just those defined by equal temperament. She had extremely precise, rapid control of her movements, important in playing an instrument that depends on the performer's motion and proximity rather than touch. She developed a unique technique for playing the instrument, including a fingering system, which allowed her to perform accurately fast passages and large note leaps without the more familiar portamento or glide on theremin.

Rockmore made orchestral appearances in New York and Philadelphia and amazed audiences in coast-to-coast tours with Paul Robeson, but it was not until 1977 that she released a commercial recording called The Art of the Theremin. The album was recorded at the behest of Bob Moog and the record featured Rockmore performing with her sister Nadia Reisenberg, with whom she was accompanied at several of her concerts. Although Léon Theremin had proposed to her several times, Rockmore married attorney Robert Rockmore, and thereafter used his name professionally. She died in New York City on May 10, 1998, at age 87. Though her health had been in rapid decline for almost a year she professed her determination to live to see the birth of her grandniece, who was born just two days before her death.
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