The Story behind Concert Magic

Yehudi Menuhin in conversation with Humphrey Burton

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The Power of illumination

When, soon after the Second World War, Yehudi Menuhin was approached by the Hollywood producer Paul Gordon, the violinist immediately saw the potential of having some of his performances caught on film for posterity. He was so enthusiastic that it seems he worked for Gordon's Concert Film Corporation for very little money, banking on the movie making a profit and paying him royalties, such as he received for his sound recordings. His father, a much better businessman, was appalled, especially as he felt that Yehudi was dirtying his hands in having anything to do with Hollywood. The film, entitled Concert Magic, and featuring other artists besides Menuhin, was shot in the last months of 1947 at the studio formerly used by the comedian Charles Chaplin. Released about a year later, it was reasonably well received, but never caught on. Television was beginning to take over this sort of territory, and as a medium it was better able to present musical performances with immediacy and flair. Concert Magic has been virtually unseen for many years.

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