Rockmore, Clara , Russian-born American theremin player, sister of Nadia Reisenberg ; b. Vilnius, March 9, 1911. She received piano lessons as a small child, and at the age of 4 entered the Imperial Cons. of Music in St. Petersburg (1915–17); subsequently settled in N.Y., where she studied violin with Auer (1925–28) and theremin with Leon Theremin, its inventor (1932–34). She thereafter devoted herself to a career as a theremin player; gave a public demonstration of the instrument (which, incidentally, plays without being touched) in a concert at N.Y.’s Town Hall on Oct. 30, 1934, which included a rendition of Franck’s formidable Violin Sonata. She subsequently appeared as a soloist with major orchs. and as a recitalist. In 1977 Rockmore made a historically significant recording, The Art of the Theremin—Clara Rockmore. With the rekindling of interest in the instrument in the 1980s, she became something of a celebrity; at the instigation of filmmaker and theremin enthusiast Steve Martin, her ancient instrument was repaired by Robert Moog and subsequently appeared as the subject of a CBS-TV documentary program entitled The Art of the Theremin.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire