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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Menuhin, Yehudi

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Yehudi Menuhin (1916 - 1999)


Menuhin was born of a distinguished rabbinical dynasty. The name Yehudi (‘Jew’ in Hebrew) was decided when a prospective landlady told his parents that she didn’t take Jews: his mother vowed that her unborn baby would have a label proclaiming his race to the world.

Menuhin’s fame began with his first public performance aged eight and the commencement of his seventy-year recording career four years later. His playing was intuitively musical, eliciting praise from a New York Times critic in 1927: ‘It may seem ridiculous to say that he showed a mature conception of Beethoven’s Concerto, but that is the fact’, and Elgar’s comment to Delius: ‘The way that boy plays my concerto is amazing.’ Despite this adulation and all his training with Persinger, Enescu and Adolf Busch, all of whom promoted him eagerly, Menuhin felt himself to be underqualified as a violinist and suffered a crisis of confidence at nineteen that led to a withdrawal from engagements for over a year.

World War II brought more problems. Menuhin toured widely, playing over 500 concerts for Allied troops, and witnessed much devastation. At the end of the war he performed in displaced persons camps (sometimes with Benjamin Britten) and visited concentration camps soon after their liberation. When he returned to the US in 1948 critics noted that his playing had lost some of its beauty.

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Discography


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