Cover image for Yehudi Menuhin : a life
Yehudi Menuhin : a life
Burton, Humphrey, 1931-
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Boston, Mass. : Northeastern University Press, 2001.
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xiii, 561 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
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ML418.M27 B87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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 Humphrey Burton draws on his own radio interviews with Menuhin, unpublished family correspondence, and a wealth of primary sources to trace his extraordinary life from child prodigy, to mature artist, to musical diplomat.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 Furtwaengler 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.

Author Notes

Humphrey Burton read Music and History at Cambridge University and entered the BBC as a sound studio manager in 1955. In 1958 he joined the groundbreaking TV arts magazine Monitor. He has won many international awards, including three from the British Academy, four Emmies, and the Italia Pria (for The Making of West Side Story). Twice in charge of Music and Arts for BBC Television, Burton was also a founding member of London Weekend Television, where he edited and presented the ITV arts series Aquarius. He is still active in the fields of radio and television. Burton worked with Yehudi Menuhin on many radio and television programs, including a twenty-part radio series for Classic FM. He was awarded a CBE in the Millennium Honors.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 ‚migr‚ 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; the only flaw is the absence of a discography. B&w photos. (Feb. 28) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Menuhin (1916-99) was a child prodigy who developed into one of the greatest violinists of our age. His tireless work in his later years as a humanitarian and teacher earned him the honor of being considered one of the century's best-loved musicians. Burton, a BBC director and commentator and author of Leonard Bernstein, drew upon a 40-year association with Menuhin to create this richly detailed, always engrossing narrative. The biography is divided into five chronological sections. The subtitle of the fifth "I Was Born Old and Have Been Growing Younger Ever Since" is an apt summary of Menuhin's remarkable life and accomplishments, for it seems that as he aged and as his performing skills declined, he turned with indefatigable energy to myriad worthy projects. Burton stops well short of hagiography, however: the controversies in Menuhin's life personal, political, and musical are candidly dealt with. Each chapter ends with a listening list, which is very useful for tracing Menuhin's development as a performing artist at each successive stage of his career. Overall, this is an outstanding work about a remarkable individual that belongs in all collections. Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A noted British television director, Burton is also the author of Leonard Bernstein (1994), a biography admired for its candor and scope. The present book on violinist Yehudi Menuhin is much in the same vein. Burton never disguises his admiration for the man and the musician, but neither does he shirk from discussing his subject's various failings. He is dispassionate in discussing the young Menuhin's political naivete and the decades of negative consequences. The wealth of detail concerning Menuhin's years as touring prodigy seems considerably more accurate than what appears in Menuhin's autobiography, Unfinished Journey (CH, Nov'77; revised as Unfinished Journey: Twenty Years Later, CH, Nov'97). Though a complete discography would have been welcome, and not many would agree with Burton's assertion that Menuhin's playing declined only late in life, this is likely the best life of Menuhin that will ever appear. Recommended to all libraries. B. J. Murray University of Alabama



Chapter One Origins For the benefit of astrologers, and others who believe such details be significant, Yehudi Mnuchin (his family name until he was three years old) was born around one in the morning. The date was 22 April 1916, although for the first two decades of his life all publicity material stated that he was born nine months later, on 22 January 1917 and his birthday was celebrated publicly on that day. Thus throughout Yehudi's time as a child prodigy, people were led to believe that he was nearly a year younger than his real age, a clumsy subterfuge on his father's part (but played along with by Yehudi in his teens) for which there is no reasonable explanation. His father, Moshe Menuhin, who changed the family name when he took American citizenship in 1919, claimed in his autobiography The Menuhin Saga that in order for Yehudi to qualify `at age five' for entrance to kindergarten he had been obliged, when seeking to enrol him in January 1921, to `up' his age by three months -- but this merely adds to the confusion since from his first public appearance Yehudi was said to have been born a year later , i.e. in 1917, rather than in 1916 as Moshe's explanation has it.     Many are the myths that surround a world-famous artist when his father is an instinctive publicist. Moshe was a short, wiry fellow, combative, sharp, radical, passionately pro-Arab and blessed (or cursed, depending on one's attitude to the exploitation of child prodigies) with the outlook of an eager salesman looking for ways to increase the novelty value of his product. Or perhaps -- returning to the question of the wrong date -- he simply hated birthdays. Moshe's father had died on his son's fourth birthday. He had no memories of the man, but he had not forgotten the day of his death. He recalled pedalling his tricycle (a birthday present, no doubt) around the still warm corpse, and being severely scolded for it by his family.     Yehudi was born in New York, at the Mount Lebanon Hospital in the Bronx. He never loved the city that was to applaud his musical achievements for seven decades and he left it when he was still in his cot, first for Elizabeth, New Jersey, an ugly town just across the Hudson River which his father labelled `Elizabethdump', and then, when only an infant of twenty-one months, to the promised land of milk and honey, California, where his parents could enjoy the kind of climate they had known in their teens when they had lived -- and first met -- in Palestine. Moshe and his wife Marutha made an intriguing, unlikely couple: the man more Jewish than Russian (even though he strove to distance himself from his religious inheritance); the woman defiantly uncaring about Jewish rituals and determinedly Russian -- and oriental Russian at that, in her love of fantastic stories and her pleasure in exotic, oriental clothes and furnishings. She boasted of her unauthenticated Circassian origins and her Tartar blood even though the Tartars were bloodthirsty, marauding warriors who slaughtered Jews whenever the opportunity arose. In her son's phrase, she wore her separateness like a badge.     Moshe was born in 1893 in the White Russian town of Gomel, now in the Belorussia, then part of the Tsarist empire, to an Orthodox Jewish family which could trace its line back to a famous Hasidic rabbi, Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev. In his autobiography Moshe writes vividly about the oppressive atmosphere in the Pale of Settlement, `heavy with a sense of exile, persecution, and fear and hatred of goyim, the non-Jews'. His father was `a well-to-do dry-goods merchant'. His mother was a Schneerson by birth and thus linked to the powerful Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty. Widowed young, she was left to bring up four children. From the moment his mother remarried, to a rich grain-dealer with five children of his own, Moshe felt increasingly estranged from the enclosed ghetto society. He was only ten when his mother took him to Odessa and put him on a boat for Palestine to live with his grandfather in Jerusalem. `Had it not been for the civilizing, healing atmosphere surrounding that saintly man,' he wrote later, `I would inevitably have been condemned to the hopeless, bitter hostility against the world, especially the Gentile world, that underlay the attitudes of so many Russian Jews.'     Marutha Sher, Yehudi's mother, also came from a broken home: her father had gone off to America when she was still quite small. She was born near the Black Sea resort town of Yalta in the Crimean peninsula, where the Tartars flourished, and was apparently the only child among seven to have survived infancy. Her mother, a strong personality who later provided the funds for Yehudi's first violin, was the focus of her life. They moved to Palestine when Marutha was fifteen. Moshe was by then a student at the recently founded and fanatically nationalistic Herzlia Gymnasium. He became aware of Marutha because he had lodgings in the house next door: The first time I saw her, she was climbing on to the dangerously steep roof of her home ... she seemed so fearless, so reckless on that roof, that I was numbed -- and then filled with admiration for a girl who could behave like a boy yet looked so sweet and feminine ... Marutha literally stopped the traffic when she went out. Jews and Arabs, young and old, turned to watch this attractive girl with blue eyes and blond hair, so aloof and elegant, yet so modest and mature. Gradually as I got to know her Marutha became my sole confidante for the discussion of the serious matters of life. Our daily walks and talks offered me a unique opportunity of practising my English and discussing America, the land of my dreams ... our companionship rapidly became indispensable to me ... She broadened my horizons and saved me from becoming self-obsessed and narrowminded.     All the same, when Moshe graduated, aged nineteen, he put career before matters of the heart and applied for a scholarship to study mathematics at New York University. Being a spiritual Zionist if not a political one, his plan was to take a degree and then return to Palestine to serve his country. But the allure of the United States was clearly very strong: when he was only fourteen he inherited $200 from his beloved Jerusalem grandfather and attempted emigration; indeed he had got as far as France before being turned back by American consular officials. His elder brother Louis had already taken the plunge and was sending back enthusiastic reports from California.     Armed with letters of recommendation, Moshe arrived in New York in November 1913. His first taste of America was a strawberry ice-cream soda. (Strawberry ice-cream was to become his son's favourite dish after playing concerts.) Thanks to his contacts he was fixed up within hours with lodgings (on Clinton Street, East Broadway) and with a job teaching Hebrew at the Talmud Torah, uptown on Lexington at 111th Street. Four hours a day, five days a week, $80 a month: he must have done his work well since he held on to the job all through his college years. Before the end of his first month he had enrolled at New York University, out in what was then the fresh air of the Bronx. Marutha was forgotten until one day he bumped into the son of the Sher family's landlord (who had also come over to the US) and learned that she was currently living with her father in Chicago. He wrote, declaring his love. She responded, and for the next six months, according to Moshe, they exchanged letters every day. In Palestine they had never so much as kissed but the postal friendship developed to the point that Marutha, now seventeen, resolved to take her life into her own hands and thwart her father, who would never have approved of her marrying a penniless student. She took a train to New York. The young couple embraced for the first time in their lives at Grand Central Station and Moshe escorted her to the lodgings he had rented for her at the home of a Jewish laundryman, just across the road from his campus digs at Gould Hall. (He had soon quit the East Side; it reminded him unpleasantly of the oppressive atmosphere of the Russian ghetto from which he had escaped a decade earlier.)     On 7 August 1914, just days after the outbreak of the First World War in Europe, the couple got married. The clerk at the first Marriage License Bureau they visited asked Moshe's age. `Twenty-one in November,' came the reply. `In that case you must have your parents' consent.' `My father's dead; my mother's in Russia and there's a war going on.' The clerk was not to be moved. `What's the hurry?' he asked. They rushed out to the elevated railway and clattered up to the Bronx, where Moshe lied about his age (a recurring theme, it seems) in order to obtain the licence. Given their own youthful impulsiveness, they could hardly have been surprised when twenty-three years later their son Yehudi told them of his engagement to a girl he had met only three weeks earlier and had wooed by telephone from a distant hotel room.     Moshe plighted his troth with a thin lover's-knot gold ring his sister Shandel had given him on the eve of her own wedding in Palestine. It was an arranged marriage and she was miserable; she had had an unhappy love affair that ended with her lover's suicide. `Marry for love,' she had whispered to Moshe. `Give this ring to your sweetheart in my name. One must love to live.' When her wedding ceremony ended, she drank a full bottle of carbolic acid and died in agony. (Many years later Marutha gave the ring to Yehudi's first wife, Nola, and when that marriage failed, Moshe asked for the ring to be returned.) The rabbi told him that no matter how great the ring's sentimental significance it was not appropriate for a wedding. Moshe was obliged to borrow $2 from the teacher colleague who was acting as witness and dash out into the street to buy the genuine article.     Moshe still had a year of study ahead of him. Marutha got a part-time job teaching Hebrew and for the first months of their marriage they shared the kitchen of their laundryman landlord. They started hunting for a modest apartment and Marutha found the ideal place in the University Heights district. According to Moshe, the landlord was very persuasive: `You'll love it here. The atmosphere! The exclusiveness! No Jews allowed!' Without hesitation Marutha said, `My dear man, we are Jews!' `But you don't look like Jews so you are still welcome.' Moshe concluded his account rather grandly, `As we left, Marutha made a vow: "If ever I have a son, his name will be YEHUDI. Let him stand or fall by his name."' So having a child was clearly on her mind, despite their precarious financial circumstances. It's uncertain, however, why she rejected such easily identifiable Old Testament names as Abraham or Isaac in favour of Yehudi, which means quite simply `the Jew', a sort of Everyman soubriquet. The more familiar form is Yehuda. Her penchant for being different prompted Marutha to adopt the genitive form.     Another apartment, with a landlord more sympathetic to Jews, was rented at 50 Buchanan Street and they made a home for themselves, decorated with exotic oriental rugs and sofas laden with cushions. They took in lodgers and were blissfully happy. Moshe recalled that they used to walk along the aqueduct on University Avenue holding hands and singing songs, or hike to Van Cortland Park or even to distant Yonkers. Bread was 5c. a loaf, milk 4c. or 5c. a quart, mackerel 5c. apiece, and meat 10-15c. a pound. Marutha had learned to cook and bake and she enjoyed running up long dresses for herself made of white cheesecloth, good practice for the clothes she made for her daughters all through their childhood.     Yehudi's younger sister, Yaltah, who is no great fan of her mother, has suggested that the strong-willed Marutha believed her destiny was to give birth to a genius. A year after their marriage Marutha duly became pregnant. To celebrate the forthcoming event, Moshe bought books by his favourite author Sholem Aleichem and night after night he taught his wife Yiddish as they laughed and cried over the colourful tales of the Russian ghetto. When her labour pains began, they took a taxi for the first time in their lives to reach the hospital. Marutha sent Moshe home and the child was born some twelve hours later -- `a perfect little boy', according to the doctor who delivered him. He was breastfed for nine months and walked and talked, so his father claimed, exceptionally early. Marutha was obliged to take him with her to school when she resumed her teaching job and she `nursed him', as Moshe put it, in the cloakroom during the breaks between classes. Twelve years later, on a 1929 visit to New York, Yehudi's parents drove him back to University Heights. It was the day after a concerto performance at Carnegie Hall and Moshe hired a car to drive them up to the Bronx. There stood the house, 50 Buchanan Street, unchanged: Under the stairs was the place where Yehudi's baby carriage had been kept, a clothes line swinging just where it did when his little clothes used to flutter on it. They visited the grocery store where Marutha didn't have 5c. to pay for a loaf and Yehudi was shown the viaduct where night after night his parents had sung by the hour, laughing away hardships and hunger while they started to equip themselves for life.     Yehudi's birth precipitated Moshe's decision not to return to Palestine after graduation in 1917, nor to continue the postgraduate studies in education that he was already pursuing at NYU in Washington Square. Instead he found a full-time job in the field of education, in charge of a newly founded Hebrew School serving the Jewish community in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was developing a new approach to teaching in a field that hitherto had been devoted to preserving Orthodox Judaism. The arrival of the Mnuchins in Elizabeth, a grim town of oil refineries and freight-train marshalling yards, caused something of a sensation, she with her boldly `bobbed' hair -- not the style adopted by conventional Jewish wives -- and he with his dynamism and his progressive outlook on Zionism. He encouraged his pupils to speak Hebrew as well as write it. She taught the children to sing and recite poetry, even to act in Hebrew and English plays. Hanukkah, the first major religious celebration under their leadership, was a great success, Moshe reported, but however happy the pupils and parents might have been with this unconventional approach, there was a groundswell of opposition from the synagogue elders that made Yehudi's parents decide to move on.     The climate of East Coast America was unsympathetic, and it was not only a question of miserable winter weather. Politically, young Mnuchin was out of sympathy (and remained so ever after) with New York's Jewish Establishment, which tended to be orientated towards the creation in Palestine of a Jewish national home -- a concept reinforced in November of that year by British government support as outlined in the Balfour Declaration. On New Year's Eve he and his wife attended an evening of depressingly bombastic speeches. A snow-storm delayed their return home from New York City until four in the morning. The depressed Moshe had a vision of California and began planning their escape. A cable was despatched to his brother Louis. Their beloved upright piano, bought on the never-never and lovingly played by Marutha when the housework was done and baby Yehudi was asleep, was crated up and sent off by freight train. Early on the morning of 1 February the furniture was sold to a dealer for a derisory $18 and as soon as Moshe received his salary arrears, paid in cash later that day, they were off.     When they got to New York their worldly goods, hitherto wrapped up in nothing more secure than a bundle of sheets, had to be repacked in a hastily purchased secondhand trunk which was immediately despatched direct to Oakland Pier to await their arrival. Such was the impetuosity of their departure that Moshe found he did not have enough cash saved for their trip. A friendly ticket clerk at Grand Central put together a roundabout travel routing which brought the price down to $150 dollars for the family and at 10 p.m. they set off on their six-day odyssey, carrying with them (Moshe is specific about these symbols of their great journey) a baby chair, a potty, a shovel and a broom. The infant Yehudi was put to sleep on a blanket with a bottle of warm milk as his companion, only to be rudely awakened when their cheap-rate itinerary forced a change of trains in the middle of the night. When they arrived in Oakland (via Kansas City, Chicago and Los Angeles) they were hungry and exhausted and Moshe didn't have enough cash left to phone his brother. It was only thanks to the Travelers Aid Society that he was contacted, turning up some hours later with a horse and buggy that transported them on a long moonlit ride to Louis's rented farm in Hayward, south-west of Oakland on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay. Next morning they awoke to find themselves looking over a green valley: it was spring and their new life had begun.     The chicken farm proved a less than idyllic home. Louis had decided to take the opposite course to his young brother and was soon to return to Palestine to fight for the Zionist cause. There were frequent quarrels but Louis lent Moshe $200 with which he rented an apartment in South Berkeley, closer to the big city. Marutha had been offered a job teaching at a Jewish Sunday school and Moshe was drawn to the idea of postgraduate study at the university. But he needed an income. With the help of letters of introduction from his NYU education professor to San Francisco's Jewish community leaders -- Moshe was to prove adept at enlisting powerful supporters -- he built on his teaching experience in Elizabeth and opened a Hebrew School in the vestry of the Orthodox Synagogue, on Webster and McAllister Streets. Seventy children enrolled in the first week and soon there were three late-afternoon classes, with the students divided according to age and knowledge of Hebrew, five days a week. Later he added a Sabbath hour on Saturday morning for Bible stories and prayers. Orthodox Jews cannot travel on the Sabbath, so Moshe would tactfully descend from the jitney with which he concluded his train and ferry journey from Berkeley and walk the last ten blocks. It was a lot of work for the tiny salary of $65 per month.     Moshe was an avid chronicler of the early manifestations of his son's musical gifts, but the very first `incident' in Yehudi's life, dating from the family's stay in Berkeley, concerns the painful banality of tonsilitis. A specialist said the boy's tonsils would have to be removed. Moshe had no money to pay for surgery, but it emerged that the specialist sometimes operated free of charge. The ailing Yehudi was wheeled to the West Berkeley dispensary in his folding pushchair (a distance of about a mile, Moshe carefully noted) where his father was subjected to a humiliating grilling from a social worker: `Don't you think that somebody who makes $65 a month should be able to pay $10 to the dispensary for taking care of his baby?' But the Mnuchins simply didn't have $10. They had to promise to pay when they could and the operation went ahead but there was no post-operative care: they simply wheeled Yehudi straight back home again. Yehudi's own earliest memory dates from this time: I was two years old and being given a piggy-back by my father. My mother was there too, and as we walked through the quiet tree-lined avenue ... she fed me cherries.     Soon afterwards came the first indication of the boy's musical gifts. The Mnuchins were friendly with a Jewish couple whose little daughter Lily became a playmate for Yehudi. `One evening', Moshe writes, as we were putting him to sleep, he asked for Lily. We told him in Hebrew (Hebrew being his mother's tongue): `Lily halchah lishun' (`Lily's gone to sleep'). He turned on his side and began to sing `Lily halchah lishun' , starting on the lowest note he could manage and continuing up the scale, in perfect pitch, until he reached the highest note he could hit. He paused and then began to descend the scale down, down until he reached the note on which he'd started. Then he fell asleep. Marutha and I looked at each other in astonishment. Every evening from then on, Yehudi sang himself to sleep with his own lullaby.     Their friend Reuben Rinder, cantor of the Temple Emanuel Synagogue, was called in to admire this uncanny phenomenon. `I tried the old piano to see where he got his idea of how the notes ought to sound,' he reported, `but the piano was out of tune while Yehudi's intonation was perfect.' Two years later it was Rinder who asked another friend, the violin teacher Louis Persinger, to audition Yehudi.     Marutha received another sign that Yehudi was especially sensitive to music when she begun studying with a cellist from the San Francisco Orchestra, Arthur Weiss. Whenever she practised at home she would hear Yehudi billing and cooing to himself as she drew her bow across the strings. There is no mention in Moshe's chronicle of any previous interest in classical music (readily available though it was in New York) but in 1918 he and his wife started attending Sunday afternoon symphony concerts at the Curran Theater. And two-year-old Yehudi went with them, smuggled in a carry-cot up to the cheap seats in the balcony with a supply of hot milk and biscuits on hand in case he became obstreperous -- though of course, being Yehudi, he didn't; on the contrary: `He listened to the music with rapt attention.' Disarmingly, Marutha would say later that they took him with them because they couldn't afford a babysitter, but the more likely explanation is that they believed passionately in sharing all experiences and wanted to expose their boy to the finest influences. `Before long,' according to Moshe, whose memories of this distant period need to be taken with several pinches of salt, not only the public but also members of the orchestra and the conductor, Alfred Hertz, knew about the strange baby with a passion for music. If ever we missed a concert, people made enquiries when we reappeared with Yehudi the next Sunday. Yehudi himself was too young to remember any specific musical performance but a powerful recollection of the repeated experience remained with him, to be distilled in his own autobiography: Seated on my mother's knee in the gallery, I am looking over a shadowy cliff, as through a telescope the wrong way round, at the bottom of which the musicians in a pool of light are miniature but distinct, their busy concentration down there producing sounds to ravish soul and sense.     Moshe's career nose-dived briefly when San Francisco was brought to its knees by the terrible Spanish flu epidemic which took more lives in a few months than had been lost in the world war that had just ended. Just when Moshe needed extra cash to pay for the transportation of the upright Matushek piano that had finally been delivered from Elizabeth, the Hebrew School was forced to close and he was obliged to take a temporary job in a timber yard in Alameda where his fellow workers berated him for working too hard. When life returned to normal he organized an expansion of his original Hebrew School into a chain of seven strung across the city; he obviously had real administrative flair in the teaching field. His salary was raised to $150 a month and the family moved to a rented apartment at 732 Hayes Street. Marutha was at last able to satisfy her yearning to sleep in the open as she had done in Palestine. Abutting the windows, Yehudi recalled, was `a flat roof upon which an awning was pitched, and there, if the weather was in any way suitable, we slept'.     Professionally the next two years were a period of strain for Moshe as he fought a long battle for control of his schools with the newly arrived rabbi, Wolf Gold. But for Yehudi life with his mother seems to have been idyllic. When Moshe could get away they indulged their love of Sunday picnic excursions into the countryside, their greatest pleasure being the visits they made to their friends the Kavin family who ran a chicken farm in Petaluma, a village known in those days as `The Egg Basket of the World'. Yehudi recalled sitting in the back of the farmer's Dodge with the two Kavin girls, looking through the small round back windows at the road running away from them: As we drove along, my father sang old Hasidic songs. The motion of the automobile, California's landscape and my father's singing curiously blended into one sensation that has left a lasting impression on me. Abba sang with a joy and abandon that seemed to give him release from all his cares. `Abba' was the family name for Yehudi's father; his mother was first `Imma' and later `Mammina'. In this narrative their regular first names, Moshe and Marutha, are deployed throughout.     Two other childhood impressions were carried over into adulthood like Proust's afternoon madeleine. When he was three Yehudi was taken to see the Pantages Vaudeville Company, which, like San Francisco's symphony orchestra, performed at the Curran Theater. He was enchanted by the first professional violin recitalist he ever heard, one Carichiarto, a swarthy fellow who, according to Yehudi, played quite beautifully. But he confessed that no single experience of the theatre `more lastingly marked me than a performance by Anna Pavlova ... I remember being absolutely carried away; hardly less transporting was the mere sight of her luggage ... six or seven great wardrobe trunks' -- the very image of the travelling artist that Yehudi himself was all too soon to become. Pavlova's programme included `The Californian Poppy', a dance inspired by a favourite sweet-smelling orange flower which, as Pavlova did at the end of her ballet, closes in on itself as it droops. Yehudi dreamed of Pavlova for months and she inspired a particularly purple passage in his memoirs: Sown in a sensibility fashioned by my mother, the seed Pavlova planted, a conception of beauty and grace perfected by the discipline of the dance, was to come to flower in adult life in my wife, Diana. His second wife, Diana Gould, had been a ballet dancer.     On 18 September 1919, Moshe made the final break with his Russian past and his Palestinian upbringing by becoming an American citizen. At the Superior Court the officiating judge proposed a change in the family name: Americans cannot pronounce the `ch' in `Mnuchin' as it is in Hebrew, and cannot hook up the two consonants `m' and `n' without a vowel in between. May I suggest that you spell your name Menuhin? Nine months to the week after that day of celebration, on 20 May 1920, the Menuhins' first daughter was born. They called her Hephzibah, Hebrew for `the desired one'. She and her brother were to form one of the finest violin and piano duos of the twentieth century. A few weeks before his sister came into the world, young Yehudi had been given a toy violin for his fourth birthday. He had smashed it to the ground, complaining bitterly, `It won't sing! It won't sing!' Copyright © 2000 Humphrey Burton. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
Part 1 Childhood 1916-1930
1 Originsp. 3
2 The Prodigyp. 15
3 'Keep your eyes on the stars'p. 50
4 Swiss Family Menuhinp. 94
Part 2 Youth 1931-1941
5 Jeunesse doreep. 119
6 The World Tourp. 142
7 Escape from Paradisep. 172
8 Midsummer Marriagesp. 197
Part 3 Coming of Age 1941-1956
9 Menuhin at War--'I have come to know my American brother'p. 223
10 The Uneasy Peacep. 246
11 Life with Dianap. 290
12 Discovery of Indiap. 323
Part 4 The Sage of Highgate 1956-1968
13 Moving to Europep. 357
14 The Impresariop. 371
15 Interlude--by Diana Menuhin 'A Day in the Life of Yehudi Moshevitch'p. 397
16 The School--Utopia in Stoke d'Abernonp. 401
Part 5 'I was born old, and have been growing younger ever since' 1969-1999
17 Confrontations and Collaborationsp. 421
18 Maestro Menuhinp. 451
19 Final Yearsp. 482
20 Codap. 505
Referencesp. 511
Bibliographyp. 531
Chronologyp. 533
Acknowledgementsp. 537
Indexp. 541