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Yehudi Menuhin (1916 - 1999)


Born in New York on 22 April 1916, Yehudi Menuhin died in Berlin on 12 March 1999. Between those dates he metamorphosed from the child of obscure Russian immigrants into Baron Menuhin of Stoke d’Abernon, perhaps the best-known musician in the world and a sort of international statesman. He was brought up initially in San Francisco and, after two years of lessons with Siegmund Anker, began studies with Persinger in 1923. Two years later he gave his first full solo recital. Then, in 1926, came his New York début, his concerto début in San Francisco and his first trip to Europe, where he studied in Paris with Enescu apart from two summers in Basel with Adolf Busch. From 1931 the family, who lived off Yehudi’s earnings, established their home near Paris, and the following year the boy recorded Elgar’s Violin Concerto under the composer’s direction. He started playing sonatas with his sister Hephzibah in 1933, recorded a Mozart work with her that September and—having made further visits to the studios in the meantime—first appeared with her in public at the Salle Pleyel, Paris, on 13 October 1934. After a world tour in 1935 he took an eighteen-month sabbatical and then entered on a disastrous first marriage: his parents had not prepared him for real life. Many wartime concerts and a 1945 tour of the German death camps with Benjamin Britten were followed by a successful second marriage and a career lived in the limelight. In due course he took up conducting, making numerous recordings in that rôle, and

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