performer of rare instruments
"Thomas Bloch is unquestionnably a virtuoso and a musician"
The New York Times
NEW ! WATERPHONE - THEREMIN CELLO
audio - video
Leon Theremin (or Lev Termen) is mostly known for having
invented the musical instrument that bears his name. It is composed of
two aerials which allow you to control the height and the intensity of
the sound by moving your hands in space.
But he also developed several other instruments, among which the Theremin Cello, an electrical cello (whose other name is Fingerboard Theremin) he invented in the early thirties. Two Theremincellos were meant to be used in the original version of Ecuatorial by Edgard Varese, created in 1934. In that work they were later replaced by two ondes Martenot. It should be remarked that the orchestra director Leopold Stokowski asked Maurice Martenot and Leon Theremin to build bass electric instruments in order to include them in his orchestra in Philadelphia.
A contact tape (a flexible plastic film) placed all along the key allows to play about five octaves (as if played on one-string cello). You must bear in mind that Leon Theremin was a cellist. So was Maurice Martenot. A wooden stick, fixed in the instrument body (a reminder of the bow), allows to command the intensity of the sound by pressing on it with your right hand. The instrument is connected to a lamp amplifier. Several knobs placed on the instrument body and behind the amplifier guarantee great precision in the command of the tuning and of the sound quality and are also used to adjust the base volume.
It appears that only two known historical samples are kept in collections today. In 2004, an American, Floyd Engels, could get hold of a Theremin-cello and make an identical copy of it (except for the shape of the instrument body). Ten instruments were made. Thomas Bloch owns number 7. Its former owner was the american rare instrument collector Brian Lowe (Seattle, WA).
Theremin-cello from Thomas Bloch (replica n° 7 made by Floyd Engels in 2004)
- from left t right -
Inside the body of the original Theremin cello (around 1930)
Leon Theremin plays his "cello" (around 1930)
Inside teh amplifier (replica n°7 made by Floyd Engels - 2004)