Lev Sergeyevich enjoyed attending my performances. When I was 14, he arrived at one of my concerts with Viacheslav Mescherin, conductor of the orchestra of electronic music instruments at the State Radio and Television. After the death of his thereminist Konstantin Kovalsky, Mescherin was looking for a new soloist for his ensemble. Since then I worked with his orchestra for many years. For me this was the beginning of my performing career.
Some of the concerts we did together with Lev Sergeyevich: he would speak about his life and his invention while I was playing the theremin. Two big concerts took place at the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture in Moscow in 1986 and 1987. In these shows I demonstrated the abilities of the theremin in combination with organ, voice, xylophone and even with a light show. I also played theremin duets with another of Lev Sergeyevich’s students, Anna Portnova.
In publications and concert announcements, my relation to Lev Theremin is occasionally indicated incorrectly. I fact, I am the granddaughter of Lev Theremin’s first cousin Mikhail Nesturkh.
My relation to Lev Theremin
Duet with Galina Staneshnikova; Lev Theremin is listening in the first row. (Glinka Museum, 1987)
Lev Theremin, Glinka Museum, Moscow 1987
My great-grandmother was Marie Theremin, the eldest daughtervof Emile Theremin.The family of Theremins with the noble French ancestry has an ancient history, which is well documented from 1525 in the family book.
Relationship of Lev Theremin and Lydia Kavina
Fragment of the “La Famille Theremin” with Russian translation by M.Tarasova and N.Nesturkh (my mother)
United by family traditions, the relatives kept friendly relationships. Kyril Nesturkh, the brother of my grandfather, introduced Lev Theremin to Abram Ioffe. Later Lev Sergeevich came to Ioffe’s institute to work and there he invented the theremin.
Lev Theremin writes in his article “Memories of Abram Ioffe” (“Nauka”, Leningrad, 1973):
“My cousin, a young physicist, Kyril Fiodorovich Nesturkh, knowing about my big interest in physics, invited me to come with him to Abram Ioffe’s presentation of his thesis. I was happy to join him. By that time I was 17 and I was in the last year at gymnasium. I had my own laboratory at home where I experimented with high frequencies, optical devices and magnetic fields.”
Lev Theremin writes in his article “Memories of Abram Ioffe” (“Nauka”, Leningrad, 1973):“My cousin, a young physicist, Kyril Fiodorovich Nesturkh, knowing about my big interest in physics, invited me to come with him to Abram Ioffe’s presentation of his thesis. I was happy to join him. By that time I was 17 and I was in the last year at gymnasium. I had my own laboratory at home where I experimented with high frequencies, optical devices and magnetic fields.”Revolution and political system changes brought a lot of turmoil in the life of the Theremin family. On the one hand, many of them were inspired by the progressive communist ideas. On the other hand, many relatives were repressed by the regime.While Lev Theremin was in prison and then at secret work, relatives lost all traces of him and didn’t know whether he was still alive. The Stalin regime destroyed human lives. People were intimidated and the family contacts were broken. In the summer of 1950, my grandfather accidentally noticed Lev Sergeyevich walking along the street of Moscow, accompanied by two non-uniformed agents. Although they recognised each other, they were too scared to do anything more than to look in each others’ eyes. Later Lev Theremin took the risk of asking his bosses for permission to meet his cousin. The permission was granted and he could restore connections with his relatives.
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