Yehudi Menuhin was a rich enigma: a gentle spirit tied to an implacable will: a perfectionist who loved amateurs and young beginners; an ascetic who relished down-to-earth pleasures.
A visionary who got things done.
A man who could not forget, perhaps never quite came to terms with, the extraordinarily gifted child he had been and, in some ways, remained.
An artist who believed the music he played to be, quite literally, a form of human healing, out of which we might make peace with ourselves.
From child prodigy to one of the 20th century’s finest and most celebrated artists, Yehudi Menuhin’s legacy lives on. In 2016, the centenary of his birth was celebrated by many special events and concerts (see the timeline), a BBC Four documentary film Who's Yehudi, and a highly acclaimed Warner Classics boxed set The Menuhin Century.
"When I began it was pure instinct. I had the knack, the gift, the will."
"I was, in some ways, the pupil of Persinger’s abandoned dreams."
"The lad, looking smaller than ever in his vast surroundings, filled them with his personality and his genius. The tremendous audience, much as it knew what to expect, was amazed and inflamed at his performance."
"Bach he advised me to play strictly, for he said that however strong your emotional impulse may be, it should never destroy the basic pace nor twist the overall form of the piece from its architectural shape."
Yehudi on his teacher, Enesco
"The way that boy plays my concerto is amazing."
Elgar to Delius
"I did not think that music could be played like that until long after the composer was dead"
"We request that you definitely cancel all arrangements for Menuhin concerts up to and including 13 October. His presence in Europe with fighting troops at this critical juncture of the war is essential in its effect upon their morale and most important."
General Eisenhower cables from Supreme Headquarters
"I had dreamt of conducting an orchestra since the age of eleven."
"Precisely because I played in Berlin I wish to play in Israel. As to threats, they cannot put me off. If there are people who wish to hear me, I’ll come and play."
Cable from Menuhin to the Israeli impresario, Baruch Gillon.
"It has taken some years for the work of Bartók to command the respect and reverence they now receive. … Little known or unknown works have in my experience always acted as a stimulus to artist, audience and connoisseur alike."
Article on new music, London "Sunday Times"
"To be present, as I have been, at a ‘chamber music’ recital by Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, each goading the other to new heights of invention, is an experience more magical than almost any in the world. One is in the presence of creation."
"People would come to me when I was walking in the streets of Moscow and shove a little piece of paper in my hand surreptitiously, just telling me how much they appreciated it."
"Anything that one wants to do really and one loves doing, one must do every day. It should be as easy to the artist and as natural as flying is to a bird. And you can't imagine a bird saying, ‘Well, I’m tired today. I’m not going to fly.’ "
"with an excellent black choir. Before the audience would let us leave, the choir broke quite spontaneously into some of their own traditional songs"