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This Rare Footage Shows a Musical Master at Work

Russian scientist Leon Theremin invented one of the first electronic instruments in the mid-1920s. Instead of pressing keys or blowing over reeds, Theremin simply moved his hands in the air over his instrument. Russian leader Vladimir Lenin was so impressed by the invention that his Communist regime ordered that Theremin mass-produce his invention.

Following his emigration to the United States, Theremin made a demonstration, sometime around 1928, of the instrument’s capabilities captured on a historic film reel. He explains, in Russian, how the device works before playing a haunting, slow melody accompanied by a piano. This truly shows the deft touch of a master as he works through the tune with just the precise movements of his hands in the air. Theremin went on to make presentations in front of other world leaders throughout his life, but this historic film reel is an international treasure. And, you can step in time again with this 1941 hit song from The Glenn Miller Orchestra.

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