Violinist Yehudi Menuhin Dies
Violinist Yehudi Menuhin Dies
Mar. 12, 1999
LONDON (AP) _ Violinist Yehudi Menuhin, whose astonishing youthful virtuosity grew into one of the great musical talents of the 20th century, died Friday. He was 82 and had been sharing his love of music with audiences around the world for 75 years.
Menuhin was to have conducted the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra in Berlin on Tuesday night, but the concert was canceled when he took ill, concert promoter Jutta Adler said.
His London office said he had pneumonia and died of heart failure in Berlin's Martin Luther Hospital.
``He was a giant in this century, as a violinist, musician, personality within the musical world ... and of course the most phenomenal child prodigy that ever existed, certainly in this century,'' said violinist Itzhak Perlman.
``Listening to his recordings, it is indescribable what he was able to communicate through his fiddle,'' Perlman added.
Menuhin, who lived in London and in Gstaad, Switzerland, was born in New York of Russian Jewish parents who had emigrated from Israel. He was both an American citizen and a British subject, and was made a baron _ Lord Menuhin of Stoke d'Abernon _ in 1993.
Menuhin was only 13 when Albert Einstein followed him backstage after a concert in Berlin and embraced him, exclaiming, ``Now I know there is a God in heaven!''
In addition to his performances in many countries, he encouraged young musicians at his school in England and with a foundation in Belgium, and won international admiration as a humanitarian.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Menuhin ``a citizen of the world in the fullest sense _ one whose vision and culture gave him a deep empathy with fellow human beings of every creed and color.
``As a member of a people which more than any other has been the victim of this century's barbarism, he redeemed the century by rising above all resentment and showing what human beings at their best are capable of,'' Annan said in New York.
Born April 22, 1916, Menuhin was only 7 when he astonished a San Francisco audience with a brilliant debut violin performance.
Four years later, he played at New York's Carnegie Hall with the New York Symphony Orchestra. By 13, he had already won accolades in Berlin, Paris and London.
During World War II, Menuhin gave 500 concerts for U.S. and Allied troops and for Red Cross funds.
He offended many Israelis, however, by performing for Germans in Berlin only two years after the war. He said he did so to further tolerance and ``the brotherhood of man.''
``Germany, and of course the Berlin Philharmonic, are very grateful for him having made this very meaningful gesture at that early time just after the war,'' said Elmar Weingarten, general manager of the Berlin Philharmonic.
But Israeli music critic Hanoch Ron said Friday that ``there was something very symbolic, almost tragic, in the fact that he went to play before German soldiers ... This was hard for the Jewish people to forgive.''
Nonetheless, he was always well received in Israel, which gave him its prestigious Wolf prize.
Menuhin believed music could reach across cultures and bring people to mutual understanding.
``Music is a therapy. It is a means of communication far more powerful than words, far more immediate, far more effective,'' he once said.
Menuhin gave a series of concerts by invitation in Moscow in 1945, promoting cultural exchanges between Russia and the United States.
He toured India at the invitation of the government and began to bring Indian music and musicians to the West. In 1970, Menuhin was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding.
He founded the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music at Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey, in 1963 to combine scholastic and musical training from an early age.
He was open to many kinds of music. An admirer of early Beatles music, he also played jazz with Stephane Grappelli and oriental music with Ravi Shankar.
Menuhin married twice.
His first wife was Nola Nicholas, daughter of an Australian industrialist, whom he married in 1938. They had a son, Krov, and a daughter, Zamira.
After a 1947 divorce, Menuhin married Diana Gould, a British ballerina and actress with whom he had two sons, Gerard and Jeremy.
Menuhin dedicated ``Unfinished Journey,'' his 1976 biography, ``To Diana, my heavenly host on this earthly way,'' and wrote of her as ``the ever-trustworthy and inspired companion of a lifetime.''
She and his four children survive.
Funeral plans were not immediately announced.