B1934. (MENUHIN) Humphrey Burton. Menuhin, A Life. London, Faber & Faber, 2000. 561pp. Index; Bibliography; Chronology; Photos; DJ. Final Hardbound Copy. - 9780571193110 0-571-19311-0
"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 Humphrey Burton draws on his own radio interviews with Menuhin, unpublished family correspondence, and a wealth of primary sources to trace his extraordinary life from child prodigy, to mature artist, to musical diplomat.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 Furtwängler 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."
"Menuhin, who began as one of the most remarkable child prodigies since Mozart and, over his 83 years (1916- 1999), became a kind of musical elder statesman, has found his ideal biographer in Burton. The veteran BBC director and producer, who also wrote the best book to date about Leonard Bernstein a few years back, is friendly and fair, with a wry appreciation of Menuhin's comic aspects. Burton does a better job sorting out the chronology and the reality of Menuhin's spectacular boyhood successes than the violinist himself did in his eloquent memoir UNFINISHED JOURNEY. Although his early successes were in San Francisco, Menuhin was born in the Bronx to Russian-Jewish parents who realized early their boy was a genius and seemed always in a quandary about how far his talent should be exploited. From the mid-1920s to the outbreak of WWII, Menuhin was one of the preeminent international virtuosos, though after the war many critics believe that his playing deteriorated. (Burton disputes this opinion, writing that there is no evidence of the violinist's decline until the 1970s.) Music was only one of Menuhin's passions, however. He was among the first in the West to espouse yoga and the principles of organic food; he established a notable school for young musicians; he became involved in high-level diplomatic maneuverings for UNESCO and in the Arab-Israeli dispute; and eventually he took up conducting. Burton relays these accomplishments with winning humor and a scrupulous attention to detail that should please musical scholars."
- Publishers Weekly