Schools mourn creator's death;Obituary

19th March 1999 at 00:00
YEHUDI Menuhin died in Berlin at the age of 82 last weekend, but, for all his years as the doyen of violinists and humanitarian campaigners, there was still something of the child about him.

A child prodigy himself, he later supported and encouraged talented young musicians for more than half a century and leaves a legacy of two important music schools, in Surrey and Gstaad, Switzerland.

Even a few months ago, he joined the cry for music in the curriculum in non-specialist schools, claiming that "Music goes both ways. You make yourself heard and listen to others".

Mr Menuhin was born in New York of Russian-Jewish parents and began taking violin lessons aged four. He made his concert debut at seven and was 12 when Einstein hugged him after a Berlin concert declaring:"Now I know God exists". At 16 he recorded Elgar's violin concerto under the composer's baton, the version still regarded as that work's most eloquent interpretation.

By his middle years, now married to his second wife, the ballet dancer Diana Gould, he was a champion of many idealistic causes, from environmental matters to freedom for Tibet, still with an air of child-like eccentricity. He was famous for adopting difficult yoga positions, for instance, long before it was fashionable.

Critics complained that his virtuosity waned as time went by, and it was rumoured that some avoided reviewing his concerts to avoid antagonising his enthusiastic army of fans. From the first he was popular and took delight in entertaining audiences. He practically invented "cross-over" music by playing gleeful duets with the jazz fiddler Stephane Grappelli and sharing concert platforms with sitar player Ravi Shankar.

In 1962 he founded the Yehudi Menuhin School at Stoke d'Abernon, of which Nigel Kennedy and Tasmin Little are probably the most famous graduates. In 1977 he set up Live Music Now, to enable children to attend concerts cheaply.

Mr Menuhin worked to the end of his life, travelling the world to play and conduct. His recordings and his influence on generations of musicians will be a lasting legacy.

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