Yehudi Menuhin 1916 - 1999
'Sooner or later every birth must become a death'
- Yehudi Menuhin, Unfinished Journey
'He has it in his power to develop into perhaps the greatest
poet amongst all violinists, alive or dead' - Neville Cardus on the young
1916 Born in New York on April 22nd, his parents were Jewish Russian
immigrants who encouraged him musically with the best teachers.
1924 A child prodigy, Menuhin's official (and brilliant) debut
at the age of seven was on February 29th with the San Francisco Symphony.
By the time he was thirteen, he had played in Berlin, London and Paris.
1927 Began studies with Enescu. Performed the Beethoven Concerto
in New York's Carnegie Hall with the NYSO under Fritz Busch: 'a world celebrity
1928 Made his first gramophone recordings
1932 Soloist in the Elgar Concerto at Elgar's 75th birthday concert,
conducted by the composer.
1938 Married Nola Nicholas, daughter of an Australian millionaire.
1939-45 Gave over 500 concerts for American and allied troups.
1944 Played Bartok's Sonata for solo violin (written for Menuhin)
in New York.
1945 Performed for the survivors of the newly-liberated Belsen
1947 First Jewish artist to play with Furtwängler and the
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra after the war, despite criticism from the
Jewish community worldwide. Remembered in Berlin for making that 'first
contact with cultural Germany'. Divorced Nola on grounds of 'simple incompatibility'.
Married the ballerina Diana Gould later the same year.
1952 First visit to India. Formed a lasting friendship with Prime
Minister Nehru. Met Ravi Shankar, with whom he made several charity recordings.
1956 Established the Gstaad Festival in Switzerland.
1958-68 Director of the Bath Festival.
1959 Made his home in London.
1960 Awarded the Nehru Peace Prize for International Understanding.
1962 Founded the Yehudi
Menuhin School. Menuhin: 'The most blessed and privileged of all callings
is that of the musician, who acts as interpreter, inspirer, teacher, healer,
consoler, and, above all, as a humble servant. These are the human roles
I would endeavour to cultivate among my beloved group of young students,
who enrich my School not only with their burgeoning talents but with the
great diversity of their cultural backgrounds.'
1965 Honorary British Knighthood.
1969-72 Director of the Windsor Festival.
1972 Publication of Theme and Variations (essays).
1976 Honorary doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris.
1977 Founded the International Music Academy for Young Graduate
String Players in Switzerland (Gstaad). Published his autobiography
1985 Became a British Citizen.
1992 Appointed as Ambassador of Goodwill to UNESCO.
1993 Made a life peer.
1996 New complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies with Menuhin
conducting the Warsaw Sinfonia released to mark his 80th birthday. 'The
refreshing response ... of a great interpretative musician who remains perenially
young' - Penguin Guide.
1997 Recognised for his humanitarian work, Menuhin received the
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Distinguished Peace Leadership Award.
Read Menuhin's letter to
the heads of state of the European Union.
1999 Died in Berlin on March 12th, aged 82, of heart failure,
having cancelled a concert with the Warsaw Sinfonia three days earlier.
Isaac Stern said that 'Yehudi Menuhin was a major figure in this century:
an extraordinary musician, and a great humanitarian'. Menuhin's biographer
Humphrey Burton described him as 'The world's greatest violinist'.