Spoiler alert: Following text contains topics and plot of the play Teremin. Reading that can attenuate your theater experience.


Lev Sergejevič Teremin comes to the USA with apparent intent to concert with his newly invented electric musical instrument teremin. He is accompanied by his manager Goldstein (a German) who builds their public image image by telling a story how Teremin impressed Lenin when playing the electric instrument (remember GOELRO) in his office. Teremin had concerted already in the Soviet Union prior coming to the USA.

What is revealed later is that he is also an agent (forced though) of Soviet intelligence and they want him to “infiltrate” US industry by launching serial production of teremins.

Teremin founds the electric orchestra to support his popularization efforts. He is accompanied by his manager Goldstein, musical polyglot Schillinger and Samuel Goldstein. Goldstein was originally hired as a private eye on Teremin by one of his fans – later he is full-hearted member of the orchestra though.

They organize an unprecedented electric music concert at stadium for thousands of visitors. Goldstein admits the most of the audience are members of unions or supporters of the communist party.

Teremin has success and RCA company agrees to produce teremins at mass scale and Teremin further exploits his inventor’s skills with further little gadgets (lie detector, altimeter).

(Un)surprisingly, the RCA’s plans collide with the Black Tuesday and the following Great Depression. Teremin’s businesses are bankcrupt, he has debts and his fame fades away. He is even not interesting for the Soviet intelligence anymore, so they stop commanding him and on top of that they allow his Russian wife to come to visit him in New York.

Seemingly, Teremin is not in love with her (and later he actually unilaterally divorced her) and Teremin is revealing his real motivation. The teremin was not a musical instrument, it was intended as an wireless alarm for the Lenin’s office and playing tones was just a side effect. Other members of the orchestra are somehow disappointed that they were part of a scam/dishonest enthusiasm (that was most hurting to the musician Schillinger). The situation is getting more and more depressive and Teremin confesses to (his closest friend) Goldstein that the teremin is can also work in reverse mode – turning sound into electromagnetic waves for the purposes of eavesdropping. The demo and consequent installation in the Lenin’đ office was devious plot of the intelligence service – that also explains why Teremin was entangled with the agents.

Despite seriousness of the motives, it seems that Teremin is doing all that because he just enjoys “hacking” the electronic components and creating various gadgets. He denies that he would do that because of wealth, fame, family protection or women.

The story ends by Teremin leaving the United States and going back to Russia and no one ever heard of him again.


Lev Sergejevič Teremin

Musician and electrical engineer. He’s an artist and geek by soul.


Teremin’s manager, businessman with German accuracy, sly. Later closest friend of Teremin.


Originally a waitress, later hired by Teremin as an assistant. She is a woman, a black and(!) physicist. And also a keen communist. This character doesn’t fit much into the realm of the play and it’s there rather for narrative purposes.


A fan of Teremin, later they are lovers and she funds him with money she has from her husband who is probably a mafia member.

Joseph Schillinger

Musical genius and (musical) revolutionary, he is enthusiastic about electric music. This character has a lecture about turning data into music (in this case stock prices) and he envisions automated production of music.

Samuel Hoffmann

Private eye, baseball player wannabe and poor musician, he’s however happy to be dragged into the whole electic music thing.

Other characters

  • Kateřina Teremin – Teremin’s wife
  • russian agents
  • servant – a former colleague of Levine, he’s kind of racist


  • money, economy (The Great Depression, Goldman’s child(?) memories)
  • communism
    • Is Teremin a communist?
  • physics
    • Hertz waves, vacuum tube explanation (in very layman terms)
    • wave equation (just a random formula during Schillinger’s lecture)
  • Tool is just a tool, what depends is the application.
    • teremin = musical instrument, alarm, listening device
    • on the stage we can see on object used as a mirror, a window and a blackboard
  • god/atheism
    • Teremin is invited to catholic radio statio for an interview, he is reluctant to mention god.
    • Later Teremin searches for consolation and prays with Goldberg.
  • intelligence services, espionage
  • motivation vs freedom
    • women, money, fame, what was on market
    • Teremin recalls his times in academia in Russia where they didn’t explore what they were interested in, however, the stuff that they had equipment available for (and it was hard to obtain anyway).
  • mystification
  • Russion revolution, cleansings (natural death, heart sickness)
  • famine
    • revolution eats its own children (backed by story of man and wife who ate their children in despair)


  • on air label
    • Stage decoration when Teremin is making an interview in radio. However, later it indicates that teremin boxes are transimitting.
  • applause to Soviet anthem
    • Play ends with Teremin in the Soviet union and Soviet anthem is played. All audience was applauding to this (the actors actually).
  • frame (white sheets)
    • Play begins and ends with everything covered under white sheets.
  • triple topic not sure what I meant with this note
  • classic tragedy composition
    • exposition
    • collision – RCA contract
    • crisis – The Great Depression
    • peripetia(?) – wrecked Teremin
    • tragedy – return to Russia
  • looking at concert from behind
    • Impressive scene when the theater audiance is actually at backstage and they are watching the electric orchestra playing concert for thousands of people.
  • educational cuts
    • physics explanation
    • personality explanation
    • meetings with KGB
  • music
    • real teremin (they actually play it)
    • stock market music (pitch is correlated with stock price)
    • rhythmicon (typewriter)