The Mind Behind the Theremin

theremindAn evening of live Theremin music, bad judgment, and genius gone haywire with Kip Rosser

***IN MANHATTAN at The Cornelia Street Cafe as part of the HUMAN+ series***

Date: Wednesday, May 30
Time: 6:00–8:00 PM
Admission: $10, includes one drink
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society

“Genius” is the category we have peopled with exceptional humans—beings who have revolutionized every area of endeavor throughout the ages. Our collective fascination with genius has spawned studies, books, workshops, exercises, and how-tos, all claiming that we each have a genius inside of us. It is time for a musical cautionary tale, a tale of genius at the dawn of the technological revolution.

In 1919, Lev Sergeivitch Termen, known throughout the world as Leon Theremin, invented the first synthesizer. Originally dubbed the Aetherphone, the Theremin remains the only musical instrument played without being touched. His genius did not stop there. A prodigious inventor and visionary, he went on to revolutionize the fields of communications, surveillance, and even Macy’s window displays.

Theremin suffered (and miraculously survived) the pitfalls that brought down many of history’s geniuses, a classic combination of volatile personality traits, poor judgement, and the striking of an almost Faustian bargain with those in a position to help him.

In addition to his own story, we’ll observe how Theremin’s creation has influenced the lives and career trajectories of contemporary electronic music’s geniuses such as synthesizer pioneers Dr. Robert Moog and Don Buchla, Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, and legendary composers Wendy Carlos and Morton Subotnick.


At this event, Rosser’s CDs of theremin music will be available for purchase—Euphonic Verses and Exploration of the Black Exterior. To hear samples from both discs, visit:

Kip Rosser is considered one of the most accomplished thereminists playing today, performing his solo concerts and collaborating with musicians around the world. For reviews, photos, music samples, and upcoming performances please visit


About the series:

inuit-maskCornelia Street Cafe and Observatory present a series of Observatory talks in the borough of Manhattan: HUMAN+ (You’ll Be Partly Plastic When You Die): Lectures on posthumanism, machine music, transhumanism, and machine love. These talks will introduce Observatory to a new audience and give presenters the opportunity to update their work.

Produced by the Hollow Earth Society and Ted Enik. Originally produced at Observatory. Thanks to our hosts, Cornelia Street Cafe, and our presenters: Kip Rosser, Laura Duncan, and Salvador Olguín.

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