ENGLISH VERSION: Suppose I ask you to play heavenly sounding music. But no strings, no keys, nothing to count on. No orientation, whatsoever. You just have to play in nothing but thin air between two given points. Don’t worry, most people can’t do this. But here in the town of Dordrecht (The Netherlands in Europe) there is a guy who plays the most gorgeous sounds in inimitable movements with both hands. On a wonderful instrument called the theremin. I published this article and video here.
Thorwald Jørgensen: “When I first heard it, I wanted to play it. When I got the theremin for the first time, I immediately could play Bach on it. For me, playing the instrument feels totally natural.” Is Thorwald just a lucky person? No, he isn’t! Thorwald benefits from a long and intensive period of studying music. He started playing music at the age of thirteen and at fourteen he was already playing in orchestras. At that same time he bought his first classical records.
Inspiring teachers like Gerrit de Weerd (conductor/clarinettist), Arnold Marinissen (percussion soloist and conservatory teacher), Peter Elbertse (first timpanist of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra) Kamilla Bystrova (pianist and teacher at the Royal Conservatory) and Saskia Boon (cellist of the Royal Concertgebouw orchestra) made him the person and the musician he is today.
Thorwald: “The last few years I performed a lot with my Theremin. I played all over Europe, the USA and Canada and the homeland of the theremin: St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. There I played at the invitation of the descendants of the instrument’s inventor: Léon Theremin. Thorwald prefers the well-developed, educated and musical way to play this early electronic musical instrument. He is aware of the huge legacy Leon Theremin left behind and works hard to be a good ambassador for the instrument.
Unfortunately the general audience only remembers the theremin as an instrument used for scary sound effects in sci-fi and horror movies. Thorwald wants to change the current view of the instrument by playing serious concert music on the stages of the world to prove to audiences that the theremin is so much more than a “one trick pony”!
Do you remember the film music in Hitchcock’s Spellbound? Ever seen an episode of Midsomer Murders and wondered about that mysterious musical intro? Are you now even more curious? Well, Google ‘theremin’, hit the YouTube button once and you’ll see more newbie theremin players than you could possibly imagine. The magical image of this musical cabinet with one antenna and a loop appeals to a lot of people who want to try it once and then leave it, or just make sound effects with it! With all the bad playing out there it is very easy to get a completely twisted idea about the instrument.
However, do you like to know more of the theremin’s interesting and exciting history? Are you open to admiration for its immense octave range and beautiful expressive sound? Be sure to check the links below to get a good impression of the instrument. Meet Léon Theremin (1896 – 1993) or the world famous theremin virtuosa Clara Rockmore (1911 -1998, who was accepted at the St. Petersburg conservatory at the ‘ripe’ age of 4 as a violin student in the class of famous violinist Leopold Auer. You’re in for a good time and be amazed for sure.
Of course also don’t forget to watch and listen to the three-minute video on top of this blog. There you will meet Thorwald Jørgensen in person. You will receive his cordial greetings.
Clara Rockmore, theremin virtuosa: http://www.nadiareisenberg-clararockmore.org
Léon Theremin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Léon_Theremin
And here is Thierry Frenkel’ s Facebook page. Creator of Thorwald’s theremin you hear and see in the video. He also reinvented the theremincello, which you can hear being played in the Vocalise by Rachmaninoff (in the English version only): https://www.facebook.com/theremin.luthier
Have a good time, enjoy it.
Jan Wind; photographer author