1929 Rockmore RCA Theremin

1929 Rockmore RCA Theremin

Although this instrument is an RCA Theremin, it was so substantially modified by Leon Theremin himself that it warrants a place among the Lev-Built instruments. As such, it offers insights into how Lev customized and optimized his designs.

Who Commissioned This Instrument?

This is a stock RCA Theremin (serial number 100006) that at Clara Rockmore's request, was enhanced to more closely approach her performance requirements.

Who Owned This Instrument?

One of the very first produced by RCA, this instrument was a gift to Clara Rockmore by Leon Theremin.

What Do We Know About This Instrument?

The modifications by Leon Theremin to this instrument are as follows:

Bob Moog and his employees with the 1929 Rockmore RCA Theremin

The sum total of the above modifications provided a higher performance version of the stock production instrument, with a dramatically increased pitch range, more responsive space control of volume, and a choice of tonal qualities.

Why is it Special?

It was one of the first RCA Theremins, and was heavily modified by the inventor himself. It was the first theremin Clara learned to play on, and the first theremin used in her first public performances. Bob Moog reconditioned and updated this instrument to reflect modern safety standards in October of 1998. Handwriting from both Leon Theremin and Bob Moog are found inside.

Tube Complement:


 Rockmore RCA Theremin

Photo: © Renato Toppo, courtesy Nadia Reisenberg/Clara Rockmore Foundation

Clara RCA Report cover

Clara Rockmore's RCA Theremin Report

This report was prepared for the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) to summarize the work performed, and the findings documented by Andrew Baron and Mike Buffington on the 27 and 28th of March, 2012.