Arts Blog

Prodigy, genius, legend: The Menuhin Century

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yehudi Menuhin, truly one of music’s most international figures. He was also one of those people who seem to have been born at just the right time in history. It was the dawn of the age of recorded music, and Menuhin started his relationship with recordings at a very young age: he was eleven when he began recording his performances. Decades later, he transitioned to conducting, and made several fine recordings which continue to be a part of All Classical Portland’s playlist today.

In my recorded feature, you’ll not only hear Menuhin as a teenager, and as an adult who played with great feeling (especially in slow movements), but also his voice, as the violinist could speak at least three languages: English, French and German. He was well attuned to his times, and to developing technology in the field of recorded music. And he saw so much change in his life: two world wars, the Cold War, and the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. In fact, Menuhin died in Berlin, in 1999, as he was preparing to conduct a concert there. The Menuhin Century could be considered not only a document of a remarkable man’s life, but also a document of a tumultuous period of human history. Through it all, Menuhin said he was “constantly thinking of ways and means to improve, alleviate, protect, guide and inspire in practical terms.” This humanitarian achieved that not only for the sake of music, but for humankind.

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