Clara: A-Fourth-of-July Fireworks Display
By Shirleigh Moog
Shirleigh is Bob Moog’s first wife. They were married from 1956-1994.
The Clara I knew was a Fourth-of-July fireworks display in a tiny box. She was barely five feet tall and a hundred pounds dripping wet. Varied life experience in Russia and the United States, so she had a great richness within her that came out in her personality.
Robert knew about Clara and had always wanted to meet her but was reticent until he felt he had sufficient courage and stature. In the mid ’70s he arranged for a meeting. When they met, one of the things they spoke about was the possibility of making a record. I met Clara after that initial talk and she and I were friends until after her death. Clara was a loquacious lady and Robert thought that she and I were a perfect pairing, so I did most of the one-on-one with Clara.
I was not part of the recording process. Clara pretty much knew what she wanted to perform and did it. Once we had the tape, we took it to Goddard Leiberson at Columbia Records. He was a friend of Clara’s. When I finished speaking with him, he felt this was too small a market for Columbia to be involved in, but he recommended Amelia Haygood at Delos records in Callifornia. I contacted Amelia and she agreed to produce the record. It eventually appeared on CD. It never sold many records being a niche category.
During this time, we got the idea to do a video of several of the people involved in Clara’s life in an informal round table discussion. The priciples were Clara, Nadia Reisenber, Bob Sherman, Tom Rhea and Robert Moog. It was filmed in Clara’s art deco apartment at her dining room table. It came off quite well.
Sometime later, Roger Englander producerof a CBS show Camera One, said he’d heard about the recording. At his invitation, I went to New York. After telling him what was on the tape, he viewed it and said they’d like to produce it. The money we received just paid for the expenses of the video people that we had to pay. It was shown on CBS.
While I was in New York I also visited Billboard and various likely places that the record would be well received/reviewed. It was most disappointing that Clara didn’t make any money on the venture. However, music history is enriched to have a fine recording by this consummate artist.
Clara brought an unprecedented level of skill to the theremin because of her musical background. Her talent and training were beyond compare. She is a treasure to the international world of theremin enthusiasts.