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     English Wordplay ~ Listen and Enjoy

YEHUDI MENUHIN 1916-1999

As limber as I kept my hands, I had trouble
with arthritis, particularly in my shoulders.
It was a very well kept secret.

Yehudi Menuhin was born in New York City, to Russian Jewish parents.

His first solo violin performance was at the age of seven with the San Francisco Symphony and in in 1929 he played in Berlin, under Bruno Walter's baton, three concerti by Bach, Brahms and Beethoven.  Albert Einstein is said to have exclaimed at the end of the concert, "Now I know that there is a God!"

The violin of the century

In 1932, he recorded Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto in B minor for HMV in London, with the composer himself conducting.

Playing Beethoven violin concerto

He performed for allied soldiers during World War II, and went with the composer Benjamin Britten to perform for inmates of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, after its liberation in April 1945.

Playing Brahms Violin Concerto (3rd mvt.)

He performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, as an act of reconciliation, becoming the first Jewish musician to do so following the Holocaust.  He said to critics within the Jewish community that he wanted to rehabilitate Germany's music and spirit.

He practised meditation and yoga and continued to perform to an advanced age.

PETER Would you regard yourself as a secular or religious Jew?
MENUHIN In the beginning, religious.  I found there was a mystery to Judaism and a rhythm to it.  It sang to my heart.
PETER There seem to be many musical geniuses in history.  Why is that?
MENUHIN Going back to Ella Fitzgerald, who was one of the original angels, who formed communication, as you use it now, music is a way in which instead of words, you use vibrations to convey your feelings, your love, even your disappointment to others.
PETER As a violinist, you had an original style.  What was different about it?
MENUHIN I added my own particular accent to the love that was within me.   I did not mimic others.  However when I played the first recording of Elgar's violin concerto, I knew not only what he wrote, but his inner feelings at the time of writing.
PETER You were proud to be a vegetarian, warning people of the dangers of meat.
MENUHIN (LAUGHS) For me and my body at that time it was what I needed to keep myself in trim.  I was very sensitive to energy of any kind.  When I consumed meat, I could feel the energy of the animal within it.  I now know that everybody is individual and that some human machines just will not function without animal flesh.

Toni comments: During the whole interview there was music playing constantly in the background.  When he wasn't comfortable finding a word, there would be a burst of music.

Peter comments: He could feel "the undertones, the secret whisperings beneath the surface" of Elgar's violin concerto.  There was a resonance in all that he had done that was in harmony with his musical nature, including his espousal of Hatha Yoga and his educational work with gifted children.  Souls I have interviewed have rarely expressed as clearly as he did the sense of satisfaction at lessons well learned and a life well lived.


Talking with Twentieth Century Men
The foregoing are excerpts from Talking with Twentieth Century Men.
If you wish to purchase this book please go to the Celestial Voices website.
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