Yehudi Menuhin was indisputably one of the finest violinists of all time, with a technique that was the envy of his peers. In this fascinating read, Menuhin not only shares his inspirational journey but also disseminates a lifetime of insight into the violin; about how to exercise and practise; and methods of giving finesse to a performance. He also reflects on the nature of his instrument and his theories on interpretation. It will be an indispensable guide for any violinist looking to take their playing to the next level.
In addition to Menuhin’s own insights, there is a wide-ranging essay on viola playing by William Primrose, encompassing everything from bowing and fingering to repertoire, vibrato and much more. There’s also a brief introduction to the violin by French expert Etienne Vatelot, and a history of the instrument by Denis Stevens. As the principal writer, however, Menuhin’s passion for teaching and technical genius shine out. It can clearly be seen why his unique and perceptive teaching experiences and ambitious masterclasses inspired and captured the hearts of some of the world’s top players.
“Yehudi Menuhin was the reason I became a violinist… He was an inveterate learner as well as an inveterate teacher – constantly searching for answers to life and music. I encountered this side of him first hand after I’d started studying with Zakhar Bron. Menuhin wanted to know all about Bron’s teaching, and we talked for several hours, during which he asked me to play for hours – he’d jump in with fascinating insights, suggestions and comparisons.”
Daniel Hope in ‘Memories of Menuhin’ for The Strad, May 2016
“Yehudi would visit the school three or four times a year, but those visits left a lasting impression. He would give masterclasses to mixed groups, and we would play a piece – the Bartók First Rhapsody, for example – while other students listened. Sometimes he would pick up our instruments and make amazing sounds – I remember him playing an arpeggiated section from the Bach Chaconne on my violin and creating six times the volume that I had made. His point was that it is the player who makes the sound. He believed playing the violin should be a natural extension of the body, and I remember him demonstrating some extraordinary swinging exercises designed to help us free our bowing arm and body, which can be seen on video at the Royal Academy of Music’s Menuhin Exhibition. It was like nothing I’d learnt before.”
Tasmin Little, taught by Menuhin at the Yehudi Menuhin School, The Strad, May 2016