Tribute to Leon


The work is dedicated to Leo Theremin, the inventor of the monumental instrument known as “aetherophon”, or just as “Theremin”. I have read in 1994 about his fictional life. Full of mystery, questions and inventions. I was totally fascinated by the Jule Bern’ s”style life of this true “inventor”. By his strong and controversial personality.

I thought that in our days is missing exactly this point: the sparkling, original and unconventional inventive mind, producing revolutionary ideas. Or, better, not exactly “missing”, since our time is of course full of new ideas and inventions and genius minds. I ‘d rather say just underestimated and hidden”from our eyes as everything is happening in a totally impersonal way.

I believe the person, the individual inventor (in a wide sense) is lost replaced by the huge company’s label. The impersonal emotionless average sense replaced the personal motivation. Creativity and imagination lost their edges. Lost their inevitably revolutionary character. From time to time we of course see in the media someone who invented something, but only because the media or the public relations network decided to use and sell his image for a while.

And all these could just be new ways for our societies to evolve, and in a sense, they are. I am not at all in love with the past. I am just suggesting that in periods of such violent and speedy changes, individuality became precious. Individuality in the sense of personal meaning projected to our actions, goals, choices.

If EACH ONE person dares to build his/her own “mythology”, then, he/she may also subjectively DECIDE about the importance of things. I understand creative imagination as a way to ACT on reality, to transform it in a personal manner. To be inventive is of course only one between many ways of using actively one’s imagination. Nevertheless it is always an expression of a living personality, of an individual trying to REACT with reality.

So, around 1996 I decided to write something using this unique instrument.


This something shouldn’t necessarily be just music using Theremin. For me the instrument could be just the conceptual centre of the performance without being strictly musically used on stage.

Theremin is actually a sound generator. You do not need to touch Theremin in order to play it. You just move your hands near to two antennae and the sound produced changes volume and frequency. And, it is not necessary to be your hands. It may be your head, or any body member. This fact, that Theremin responds to body movements, gave me the idea to substitute a performing musician with an acting dancer.

I built the prerecorded tape music using almost exclusively samples (digitally processed sounds) of Theremin. I also prepared and used: … a short sample of the first notes of «The Swan» (by Saint-Saens), played with a Theremin by Lydia Cavina … two samples of human voice (spelling the words “aetherophono”, “Leon Theremin was born”) … a few words of Lydia Cavina teaching the instrument, and … Robert Moog saying “it’s the only instrument which responds directly and immediately to every motion”.

The prerecorded music is almost a stand – alone piece. The dancer is free to improvise during the performance and produce sounds from the Theremin. These sounds are not fully pre-determined. However they should be in the sense of the whole piece. During the 2 Interludes there is no prerecorded sound and the dancer just improvises with the Theremin.

I designed the draft “script” of the choreography in parallel with the music. At that time (1996) I was collaborating with the dancer Efi Tsolakidou and we were to start working on the details in order to present the work in 4 performances. Due to their cancellation and to other priorities and difficulties we never finished the detailed choreography. This work, until today, remained in a sense incomplete as a performance. We never had the chance to work again on it.

However, I consider it very important and idiosyncratic. Both conceptually and musically. Furthermore, as just a piece of music, a stand-alone composition, it IS finished because the prerecorded part of it is complete. Even if very badly recorded. Even if noise is not always intentional. Even if, today (1998), I must confess that I would like to work on it again…

Today, the piece is still an open material offered for a creative collaboration between a musician and a dancer.



The idea of the instrument is like an abstract sleeping “monster” in the inventor’s mind. This idea gradually awakes taking shape and identity. The dancer (the inventor) “discovers” the Theremin as if the instrument were something alive.


The invented instrument is like a living creature, living together with its creator (the dancer). Snapshots of this symbiosis are shown on stage.


The dancer interacts with the instrument producing sounds with it (the prerecorded music stops), as if caressing the awakened creature, as if recognizing himself in his invention.


The period when Leon Theremin became famous. We are in an imaginative ceremony where the instrument is presented, many people are talking about it, etc.


A game with sounds showing the possibilities of the instrument in different kinds of music. A traditional tune, a jazz walk-bas, etc. The coda is like a Mors signal, playing with the idea of Leon Theremin’s disappearance after the War.


The dancer interacts again with the Theremin instrument.


The first notes of «The Swan» are heard as a reference to something very pure and romantic, as it is living our natural internal reality. A child – game, a laser gun, kills the swan and our emotions.


The idea for this part comes on one hand from the fact that there was a time when Theremin was actually disappeared. On the other hand it comes from the instrument’s first name, «aetherophon», which originates from the Greek word «ether». «Ether» does not mean just the air as the usual atmosphere around us. Philosophically, it is also the invisible substance of the universe. A very distant and abstract variation of the processed «Swan’s» theme is heard, as if the bird is crying while killed. Or as if a young child is passing by whistling, disappearing in its own ethereal internal reality (the child: the original – unconventional ideas, the joy of creation, or even Leon Theremin himself…).

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