Clara Rockmore plays Hebrew Melody

Clara Rockmore

I received this question from Elsa from L.A. who says she is a great fan of the Stuff Page and wanted to know what music I listened to when I designed clothes. Well, it changes all the time, but today I am listening to Clara Rockwell play the amazing Hebrew Melody. Here is a bit of history!

Born in 1911 in Lithuania, Clara Rockmore is widely regarded as the greatest Theremin player to have ever lived. A child prodigy, Clara began her career as a violinist but gave up the instrument in her teens due to an arthritic condition in her bow arm. By this point she had immigrated to the US and befriended Leon Theremin, who recently had developed an instrument, which used radio waves to generate musical tones, which he named the Theremin. Clara became smitten by the instrument and quickly excelled at performing it, but never recorded released a commercial recording until 1977, when she was in her sixties.

Here is Clara Rockmore playing the Theremin in 1981. She is playing Hebrew Melody by Joseph Achron. The melody of this song is moving beyond belief, composed after the First World War and full of all the prescient heartbreak of the coming storm.

If you find the Theremin difficult to relate to, then listen to the original version of this song by the great violinist Jascha Heifitz, who some regarded as the greatest violin virtuoso since Paganini. Sometimes when I am working, you know, designing the dresses, this is pretty much all I’m listening too. Which version do you prefer?

Much love, Susie