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Yehudi Menuhin: A Life Hardcover – October 12, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
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
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
I was given this book as a gift several years ago and before I decided to read it, the paperback sat on my bookshelf with time gradually yellowing it's pages. It was only until recently when I obtained a DVD performance of Hepzibah Mehuhin playing Mendelssohn's 'Variations Serieuse' that I felt inspired to finally read the book. As Hepzibah was not as famous as her brother (yet no less talented and gifted), my wish was to glean as much about Hepzibah as I could. As she played such an integral part of Yehudi's life my thirst was sufficiently quenched, and in the process I learned about the humble, giving, intellectual, spiritual, eccentric and monumental musician and character that Yehudi Menuhin was.
I would highly recommend this book to all musicians both classically and jazz orientated as a highly informative and satisfactory read. If your choice is to live the life of a musician, or if serious music is a part of your life, then this book will contribute to the musical ethos that is a musician's and music-lover's lifelong study.
The only downside I experienced regarding this book was that I accidentally left it at the airport just before finishing the very last chapter. This has proved to be deeply frustrating; so now I must source a copy or alternatively I shall have to go out and buy another. The standard of the writing and research however, is of such a consistent and unwavering high caliber that I can comfortably recommend the book even though I haven't quite finished it. On second thought, I may as well purchase the book as it would certainly merit a future re-read; and it would not be amiss on one's bookshelf as a treasured and worthy possession.