Very few people would recognize the name of Leon Theremin (1896-1993) if it weren't for the electronic musical instrument he invented around 1918. Fans of the first Star Trek series will recognize its sounds. It was used in orchestral compositions and movies quite extensively for many decades. It even played a role in Brian Wilson's composition of the Beach Boys' hit "Good Vibrations."
This documentary shows that the inventor of the forerunner instrument in electronic music is a person whose life had a lot more to offer than that. He was called "The Soviet Edison" and was honored by Lenin before he went to work in the United States, where he developed the first electronic security system in the world for Sing-Sing Prison in upstate New York. He also was a pioneer in interracial relations, braving the strong disapproval of his peers to marry a black ballerina. He was kidnapped from the U.S. in 1938 on the orders of the vengeful and ever-paranoid Stalin, brought back to the U.S.S.R., charged with treason, and was sentenced to a gulag (forced-labor camp). However, when World War II rolled around, he was brought back into the mainstream and was put to work for the KGB, for which he invented the first electronic "bug" for eavesdropping.
The evening also includes a performance by theremin player Thomas Grillo, who always had a passion for music and started playing the violin at age 8 and the flute at 12. In the late 1970s, Grillo performed with the Biloxi Opera Theater until the early 1980s. He is a self-taught thereminist who enjoys playing in a classical style, but also enjoys other genres. He started playing the theremin in July of 2006.