Yehudi Menuhin

April 22, 1916 — March 12, 1999


Known for being a gentle soul, Yehudi Menuhin also possessed a profound inner strength which helped him navigate a hectic life in the public eye. As a child he seemed to have a charmed life. As an adult he appeared to wake up and find that he did not really know how to play the violin. Critics were forever comparing him with his younger self, even though the mature Menuhin was five times the musician. When he was at his best, the music seemed to flow out of him and seduce all those around him. He cast a spell on all who met him.

  • 1921: First violin lessons with Sigmund Anker.
  • 1924: Official début in San Francisco with Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole; becomes a pupil of Louis Persinger.
  • 1927: Meets George Enescu in Paris and becomes his pupil; earliest concerts in Paris and New York.
  • 1929–30: Legendary concert under Bruno Walter in Berlin (concertos by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms), confirming his reputation as a child prodigy; studies with Adolf Busch in Basel.
  • 1931–35: First world tour involving 110 concerts, taking Menuhin to the very limits of his endurance.
  • 1935: Artistic crisis and temporary withdrawal from the world of music.
  • 1938–45: Resumes his career and gives some 500 concerts for Allied troops during the Second World War.
  • 1952: First visit to India; meets Ravi Shankar, with whom he subsequently gives many concerts and makes numerous recordings.
  • 1957: First Menuhin Festival at Gstaad, Switzerland.
  • 1959: Becomes Artistic Director of the Bach Festival; starts to conduct.
  • 1963: Founds the Yehudi Menuhin School in England, where young musicians can receive their scholastic and musical education under one roof.
  • 1969: Elected President of the International Music Council of UNESCO.
  • 1976: Publishes his autobiography, Unfinished Journey.
  • 1977: Founds the International Menuhin Music Academy for young graduate string players in Gstaad.
  • 1992: Named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
  • 1993: Queen Elizabeth II creates Menuhin a life peer (as Baron Menuhin of Stoke d’Abernon); he had already been knighted in 1966 and received the Order of Merit in 1987.
  • 1997: Inaugurates the Assembly of the Cultures of Europe under the auspices of the European Parliament.