Who was Yehudi Menuhin?

Yehudi Menuhin is known as the finest and most celebrated artist and violinist of all time.

Yehudi was born on 22 April 1916 in New York City to Moshe Menuhin and Marutha Sher and he had two sisters.

In 1921 Yehudi started violin lessons with Sigmund Anker for two years and made his first performance at a school concert.

In 1923 he changed music teacher to Louis Persinger and he performed his first public concert in 1924 at the age of seven, he played Bériot’s Scène de Ballet accompanied at the piano by his teacher Louis Persinger.

Over the next few years he played many concerts with Louis Persinger at piano. From his first full length recital at San Francisco to New York recital début at the Manhattan Opera House.

In 1927, Yehudi then 10 years old, by in two concerts, one with the Lamoureux Orchestra under Paul Paray and the 2nd at Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, both in Paris.

In 1928 he undertook his first American tour, whilst in 1929 he was given the gift of a Stradivarius violin ‘Prince Khevenhüller’ from Henry Goldman.

He continually filled many concert halls of the years from Australia to South America and around many European countries.

He married Nola Nicholas in 1938 and had a two children, his daughter Zamira was born in 1939 and his son Krov in 1940.

He was deferred from fighting in the war and was asked to play to the troops across Europe and North America.

He met Diana Gould who was to become his 2nd wife following his divorce from Nola in 1947. In 1948, his 3rd child was born, a son named Gerard, with a 4th child, another son named Jeremy born in 1951.

He played concerts in Japan and India during 1952 & 1953 and after leaving USA to live in Europe in 1955 he establishes the firs Yehudi Menuhin School in London, transferring to Surrey a year later in 1963.

He was made an honorary Knight of the British Empire (KBE) in 1965 and conducted his first opera in 1966, for Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte at Bath Festival.

Following on from his knighthood, in 1985 he assumes British citizenship and so becomes Sir Yehudi, with the Queen making him a Member of the Order of Merit (OM) in 1987.

In 1993 Yehudi becomes a baron, known as The Right Honourable the Lord Menuhin of Stoke d’Abernon, OM KBE and takes his seat in the British House of Lords.

To celebrate the release of Nelson Mandela, Yehudi returned to South Africa and conducted Handel’s Messiah in township outside Johannesburg.

To celebrate his 80th year in 1996 he conducts more than 110 concerts. With his death on 12th March 1999 at the Martin Luther Hospital, Berlin.

Yehudi Menuhin’s legacy continues through his many schools, competitions, festivals, Live Music Now, academies and foundations he opened across the world.

Feature Image from BBC Pictures