The passing of Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong this week (at the age of 82) has special significance for theremin enthusiasts. Neil Armstrong took the theremin to the moon with him!
Armstrong was born in 1930 and was apparently very moved by Samuel Hoffman's 1947 Capitol Records 78 rpm recording, MUSIC OUT OF THE MOON, which he would have heard at the age of about 17 (or shortly thereafter).
The following is a quote from the 2006 book, MOONDUST: IN SEARCH OF THE MEN WHO FELL TO EARTH by Andrew Smith
"Of more interest to me, though, was Neil Armstrong’s response to a supplementary question about 'the strange, electronic sounding music' that Collins [fellow astronaut Michael Collins] reported him taking to Luna. Armstrong told me that the electronic sound I referred to was the theremin music of Dr. Samuel Hoffman, specifically an album called MUSIC OUT OF THE MOON, which he had committed to tape from his own collection.
The theremin was an early form of synthesizer, played by moving one’s hands through two invisible radiostatic fields to produce an unearthly quaver, eerie, like the pleadings of an alien choir. Armstrong's decision to make it part of his own sound track struck me as at once both deeply, deeply eccentric and absolutely perfect, and ever since, when I've thought of Apollo, I've thought not of the first step, or the raging Saturn, but of him and his little band drifting out there toward the secret Moon, spinning slowly to distribute the heat and spilling spooky theremin music out at the stars who think it’s just as weird as I do - and it occurs to me that in the final analysis this might be as good a way as any to remember Apollo, as a kind of collective dream, a tale from a comic book come to life. "