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.
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.
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.
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]