One of the best-loved classical musicians of the twentieth century, Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) was born in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants. The gifted violinist gave his first solo recital at the age of eight and within five years rose to international fame. In addition to his enduring career as a performer and conductor, Menuhin was a tireless champion of humanitarian causes, ran the Bath Festival, founded a renowned music school, and served as cultural ambassador to the United Nations. While the familiar image of Menuhin is that of a saintly, philosophizing guru, this compelling biography reveals that he was also a complex individualist who often sparked controversy. Humphrey Burton draws on his own radio interviews with Menuhin, unpublished family correspondence, and a wealth of primary sources to trace his extraordinary life from child prodigy, to mature artist, to musical diplomat. He relates in vivid narrative Menuhin's considerable achievements and wide-ranging interests, discussing his political activism, devotion to yoga, and treasured musical partnerships with sitarist Ravi Shankar and jazz violinist Stephane Grappeli. Burton delves into Menuhin's conflicts with the Jewish establishment over his postwar support of conductor Wilhelm Furtwaengler and his efforts to build bridges with the defeated German nation. He describes his two marriages, first to an Australian heiress and then to ballerina Diana Gould, and chronicles the unhappy period characterized by Menuhin's father as "the War of the Wives." The work also includes Gould's satirical essay, "A Day in the Life of Yehudi Moshevich," which originally appeared in the program book of the 1965 Bath Festival. This captivating and in-depth portrait of Yehudi Menuhin will stand as the definitive work on an exceptional musician and human being.
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Published October 12, 2000
Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography.