Clara Reisenberg Rockmore was born in Vilnius, the capital and largest city of Lithuania on 9 March 1911. She had two elder sisters, Anna and Nadia. She started playing the violin and piano at the age of 2 and she started Saint Petersburg Conservatory at the age of 4. She was the youngest student ever attended to Saint Petersburg Conservatory. She studied under the prominent violinist Leopold Auer at St. Petersburg. After the October Revolution at Soviet Union, she and her family moved back to Vilnius to wait for the USA visas they applied. They emigrated to United Stats Of America as a family in 1921 to live in New York.
She had to stop playing the violin because of a physical injury, and sadly she stopped playing the violin. In 1927 she met Leon Theremin* and began to learn theremin.
**Leon Theremin is a Russian scientist and inventor. His full name is Lev Sergeyevich Termen. He created one of the first electronic music instrument; Theremin. In 1922 he introduced it to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. The futuristic sound and design of the instrument impressed Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Leon Theremin then took the instrument to the Europe. In 1927, he took the the instrument to the Plaza Hotel in USA for its first demonstration. Clara Rockmore, the violin virtuoso, who was to become the most loyal supporter and performer of the instrument in the future, listened the instrument for the first time here.
She performed widely and helped Theremin to refine his instrument. Clara Rockmore performed her first theraming concert in 1935. Clara Rockmore’s classical music education gave her a big advantage over the theraminists of the time. As a violinist she gained control of intonation and her innate absolute pitch helped to play the instrument. She was extremely consistent and accurate on her movements and that was really important in playing an istrument that depends on the performer’s motion and proximity rather than touch.
Clara Rockmore discovered many things about instrument. One of them was that she could achieve a steadier tone and control over the vibrato by keeping the fingertips of her right hand in contact.
She rejected Leon’s marriage proposal who was in love with her.
By the time Rockmore was playing large scale public concerts, such as New York City’s Town Hall in 1938, she was becoming increasingly known for impressing critics with her artistry of the theremin during a time in which much of the general public had come to rather negative conclusions of what was possible on the instrument.
Clara Rockmore is considered the best player to play the Theremin. She has made great contributions to spread the music of this new instrument. She passed away in 1998 at the age of 87. Her album “The art of the Theremin” produced by Robert Moog, was published in 1977. There is also “Clara Rockmore’s Lost Theremin” released in 2006 after her death. Leon Theremin died on 3 November 1993 in Moscow, Russia.