From Soviet Russia to Brooklyn: Making Music With a Wave of the Hands

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of a unique instrument.

By Patrick Mulligan and Joaquim Salles

Dorit Chrysler has dedicated her life to the theremin, an obscure electronic instrument invented in the Soviet Union. As if by magic, theremin players create music by manipulating radio waves, moving their hands in the air around the instrument’s two antennae in a sequence of delicate gestures. The instrument itself is never touched during performances. Over decades, Chrysler has worked to keep the theremin’s legacy alive through teaching and concerts. Now, it’s found a foothold in Brooklyn, where over 800 people attended a February concert Chrysler curated to celebrate the instrument’s centenary. 

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