A flyer (the exact date of publication is unknown but it dates from the Thirties) promoting thereminist Charles Stein. Reprint courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries.
Music Played Without Touching the Instrument
A Revolution in Musical Science
THE Theremin is an instrument which produces musical sound exclusively by electrical means. It is the only musical instrument ever conceived that is played by waving the hands in the air.
To Professor Leon Theremin, distinguished Russian scientist, the world owes a debt for his conception of the idea which has developed into this unbelievable musical instrument, the Theremin.
Such noted musical authorities as Leopold Stokowsky, Elisabeth Rethberg, Gabrilowitsch, Frederick Stock, Rachmaninoff and Rudolph Ganz have praised it for its unusual tonal qualities.
In appearance the Theremin resembles an orchestra conductor’s stand with metal antennae or rods. One of these antennae extends vertically from the top of the instrument. This is the pitch antenna. The other is in the form of a looped horizontal bar which controls the volume. When the right hand is moved toward the vertical antenna the electrical field surrounding it is so affected that audio frequency notes are produced. These are amplified by tubes in the set and are produced through a loud speaker. As the hand is brought nearer the vertical antenna the pitch becomes higher, as it is withdrawn the notes are lower.
The volume control antenna or looped horizontal bar is controlled by the left hand. When the hand is moved toward the bar the volume is decreased. When raised it is increased to a great intensity.
The tone is rich and full and has a range of about three and one-half octaves. Perhaps the first thing that impresses the person who sees and hears the Theremin, is the apparently miraculous effect produced by moving the hands easily in the thin air about a polshed mahogany cabinet a little more than waist high. It is as if the hands were running over strange and invisible strings. The weirdness of this first impression, however, soon gives way to interest in the compelling beauty of the tone produced. In the lower register it sounds like a bassoon or cello, further up the scale it is more like a violin, and at a stil1 higher point can be said to represent a human voice when humming.
The discovery of fundamental principles were worked out and patented in 1915 by Lee DeForest who did not try immediately to solve the problem related to the practice of music.
Thus a more extensive study of this field was unldertaken by Professor Theremin who approached the problem of electricity as a scientific basis for the music of the future. He became interested not only in the interpretative possibilities open up by this entirely novel means of obtaining sound but in the new system of intonation which not only makes it possible to play music based on any present methods but offers possibilities for new intonation and new systems of notations.
What World Famous Musicians Say of the Theremin
“It is only a question of a few years before we shall have entirely new methods of tone production by electrical means. This will begin a new era in music.”
Conductor of Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
“The striking feature for me is that it is the first time that music has been extracted from something instead of being put into something and that there is nothing between the human being and the music itself – no wood, no steel, no strings, and that the personality of the performer is more sensitively presented than on any existing instrument.”
Internationally Noted Pianist – Chicago.
“It is surprising to me that the Theremin had no mechanical tone. It seemed to have a soul.”
Mme. Elisabeth Rethberg,
Metropolitan Opera – New York, Ravinia Opera – Chicago.
“The Theremin opens a vista of unlimited possibilities in the future development of musical art.”
Conductor of Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
“The day is not far distant when an entire orchestra of electrical musical instruments will be heard.”
New York Tribune.
CHARLES STEIN — Master of the Theremin
Mr. Charles Stein has done more than any other person to introduce the Theremin to music loving and scientific people.
Before taking up his work with the Theremin Mr. Stein was well-known in Chicago music circles as a young Violinist and Theorist of unusual ability. He was asked to take over the Theremin Department at Lyon & Healy, America’s Great Music House where two years were spent playing, writing and composing for the instrument. Clubs, Radio Conventions, Schools, Colleges, Musical organizations, etc., in Chicago and vicinity, have sought out Mr. Stein to have him play this marvelous new instrument.
He has appeared regularly in weekly Radio broadcasts in Chicago for the past two years on WCFL and WENR and was presented in three world-wide short wave programs over W9XAA as the principal feature. Everywhere Mr. Stein goes he is hailed with enthusiasm as the heralder of a new form of music that in a few years will revolutionize the whole musical world.
His quiet, unassuming personality has a charm all its own which never fails to please his audiences wherever he appears.
Available for Concerts in your city.
Management: Ridgely-Sheffield Concert Bureau,
c/o S. Stein & Co.,
209 So. State St.,