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The Last Terpsitone on Earth

Lydia Kavina owns the only surviving Terpsitone in the world: it was built for her by Léon Théremin in 1978. Some photographs and information about this instrument.

Knowing that Lydia Kavina owns the only surviving Terpsitone in the world I’ve asked her for some photographs and she has kindly sent the ones below.

Some additional information is given by a few questions and answers.

Julia Koroleva on the 1978 Terpsitone.
Julia Koroleva on the 1978 Terpsitone.

Saggini: Does it work?

Kavina: Yes, it works. It has always had only pitch control and had never any control for volume. The volume control was not developed really.

Saggini: When was built?

Kavina: It was built for me in 1978-1979.

Saggini: What could be, in your opinion, the practical usage of such an instrument?

Kavina: The instrument I have is more like a demonstration of the effect. Many people try to use the theremin dancing around it or making some kind of pantomime. Because the theremin has a clear relationship of movement, gest and sound reaction. The Terpsitone would do it better if it would be more developed.

1978 Terpsitone
1978 Terpsitone.

Saggini: Is it really possible to play music with it?

Kavina: One can play simple melodies on it. But it is better to create new composition for it.

Saggini: Do you use it? Have you ever used it for public performances?

Kavina: Only for demonstration, not for performances.

Detail of the 1978 Terpsitone
Detail of the 1978 Terpsitone.

Saggini: Is there any sound or video recording of this instrument?

Kavina: I do not have any.

Saggini: Is this the only surviving Theremin built Terpsitone?

Kavina: Lev Theremin build several pieces of them in his life, but this is only one that exists now, as much as I know.

[Images courtesy of Lydia Kavina]

4 thoughts on “The Last Terpsitone on Earth

  1. rob healy
    rob healy says:

    a marvelous instrument to play when ur pissed-bet Les Dawson had one-cant believe last comment was so long ago-cmon all you closet terpsitone fans,get out of your wardrobes and spread the word -it could be the next big thing,like scientology without the weeirdos and the midgits-if Jesus came back tommorrow he would play the terpsitone and his misses the magdelane would play the theremin-mother mary would play the glockenspiel and poor old Joseph would probably play the marrackas or leave them to it and have a fag in the stable-no facist smokin laws then

  2. tibo f
    tibo f says:

    Hello.
    My name’s Tibo, from France, engineering school.
    I’ve known the Theremin for ages but am just discovering the Terpsitone and its large field of possibilities. I’d be enjoyed to study how it works and maybe to solve the issue of the volume control.
    If someone could find a sort of interest in my proposal, feel free to let me know.

    • Quiet Beauty
      Quiet Beauty says:

      Yeah! Tibo please don’t let it die. I’d love to dance for it’s test and recreation. You should do everything to save this technique. Maybe rebuid one even with photocells for the quick movements, that would be great! Q.T.-Beauty

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