A Jewish pioneer of electronic music, who inspired the likes of The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, has been honoured with a Google Doodle on what would have been her 105th birthday.

Clara Rockmore rose to prominence in the 1920s as the star performer of the relatively newly-invented theremin – the world’s first electronic music instrument which could be played without being touched.

The theremin later went on to inspire the music of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys and led to the creation of the first synthesizer.

Visitors to Google Doodle’s interactive game today can learn to play the theremin by hovering the mouse over the various notes.

Born Clara Reisenberg in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1911, Rockmore inherited a musical ability from her family and could pick out melodies on the piano aged two.


Clara Rockmore and Louis Theremin, inventor of the world’s first electronic instrument

By the time she was four, Clara became the youngest ever violin student at the St Petersburg Imperial Conservatory and so small that she had to audition standing on a table.

Following the Russian Revolution, the family fled Russia and eventually reached New York in 1921. She subsequently met Louis Theremin, inventor of the world’s first electronic instrument.

“I was fascinated by the aesthetic part of it, the visual beauty, the idea of playing in the air,” Clara recalled, “and I loved the sound. I tried it, and apparently showed some kind of immediate ability to manipulate it.”
In the late 1920s she helped develop the instrument by suggesting the addition of extra features, including “aerial fingering” to change notes.

Although Theremin proposed to Clara several times, she married Jewish attorney Robert Rockmore. She died in New York in 1998, aged 87.