Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin, OM, KBE (April 22, 1916 – March 12, 1999) was an American-born violinist and conductor who spent most of his performing career in the United Kingdom. He was born a U.S. citizen, but became a citizen of Switzerland in 1970, and of the United Kingdom in 1985.
Menuhin continued to perform to an advanced age, becoming known for profound interpretations of an austere quality, as well as for his explorations of music outside the classical realm.
In 1952, Menuhin met and befriended the influential yogi B.K.S. Iyengar before he had come to prominence outside India. Menuhin arranged for Iyengar to teach abroad in London, Switzerland, Paris and elsewhere. This was the first time that many Westerners had been exposed to yoga.
Menuhin made several recordings with the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, who had been criticized for conducting in Germany during the Nazi era. Menuhin defended Furtwangler, noting that the conductor had helped a number of Jewish musicians to flee Nazi Germany.
In 1962 he established the Yehudi Menuhin School in Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey. He also established the music program at the Nueva School in Hillsborough, California sometime around then. In 1965 he received an honorary knighthood. In the same year, Australian composer Malcolm Williamson wrote a concerto for Menuhin. A deeply spiritual and profoundly moving work, he performed the concerto many times and recorded it at its première at the Bath Festival in 1965.
In 1997 Yehudi, along with Ian Stoutzker founded the charity Live Music Now, the largest outreach music project in the UK. LMN pays and trains professional musicians to work in the community bringing joy and comfort to those who rarely get an opportunity to hear or see live music performance.
In the 1980s Menuhin wrote and oversaw the creation of a "Music Guides" series of books; each covered musical instruments with one on the human voice. Menuhin wrote some whilst others were edited by different authors.
On 22 April 1978 along with Stéphane Grappelli, Yehudi played Pick Yourself Up, taken from the Menuhin & Grappelli Play Berlin, Kern, Porter and Rodgers & Hart album as the interval act at the 23rd Eurovision Song Contest for TF1. The performance came direct from the studios of TF1 and not that of the venue (Palais des Congrès) from where the contest was held.
During the 1970s, '80s and '90s, he made jazz recordings with Stéphane Grappelli, classical recordings with L. Subramaniam and albums of Eastern music with the great sitarist Ravi Shankar. In 1983 he founded the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists in Folkestone, Kent.
His recording contract with EMI lasted almost 70 years and is the longest in the history of the music industry. He made his first recording at age 13 in November 1929, and his last in January 2001 at age 84. In total he recorded over 300 works for EMI, both as a violinist and as a conductor.
In 1990 he was the first conductor for the Asian Youth Orchestra which toured around Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong with Julian Lloyd Webber and a group of young talented musicians from all over Asia.
Obliged to find an apartment of their own, my parents searched the neighbourhood and chose one within walking distance of the park. Showing them out after they had viewed it, the landlady said: "And you'll be glad to know I don't take Jews." Her mistake made clear to her, the antisemitic landlady was renounced, and another apartment found. But her blunder left its mark. Back on the street my mother made a vow. Her unborn baby would have a label proclaiming his race to the world. He would be called "The Jew.
In November 2005 his son Gerard was forced to resign from his post as chairman of the Yehudi-Menuhin-Stiftung for criticizing the exploitation of Holocaust expressing his opinion that "Germany was being blackmailed by an international Jewish conspiracy preying on the country’s war guilt". Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish professor in politics, has written on the subject in his book The Holocaust Industry.
A picture of Menuhin as a child is sometimes used as part of a Thematic Apperception Test.
Soon after his death, the Royal Academy of Music acquired the Yehudi Menuhin Archive, one of the most comprehensive collections ever assembled by an individual musician.
Yehudi Menuhin was also 'meant' to appear on The Morecambe and Wise Show but couldn't as he was 'opening at the Argyl Theatre, Birkenhead in 'Old King Cole'. He was instead replaced by Eric Morecambe in a famous sketch featuring the conductor Andre Previn
Yehudi Menuhin was referenced in an episode of the US television series Sports Night. The episode, “Celebrities”, featured an after hours game of Celebrities among the Sports Night staff. Dan Rydell, one of the fictional show’s co-anchors, gave clues to his teammates in a game of Celebrities, trying to get them to guess the name Yehudi Menuhin. He had shown his co-anchor, Casey McCall, a secret hand gesture that would clue him in to say “Yehudi Menuhin”, but during the game, Casey forgot the secret signal, and couldn't recall Menuhin's name.
Menuhin was also mentioned a number of times in Pat Conroy's novel The Prince of Tides.
What a Fiddle. Violinist Nigel Kennedy Outrages the Music Establishment with His Effing and Blinding. Now, as He Releases Two New Albums, He Tells Caroline Graham What He Really Thinks of 'Those Snobs'
Nov 12, 2000; Byline: CAROLINE GRAHAM Nigel Kennedy is distinctly damp, wet from the top of his head to his burgundy socks and lurid green...