The Words

A driven communicator

He was a driven communicator. And he never sidled, he surged. All his life long there were books, articles, speeches, feverish phone calls and frequent letters to the press.

He liked to button-hole presidents, princes and politicians and tell them passionately, urgently, what needed to be done. Sometimes what he wanted to say got lost in the rush of feeling. But then Menuhin spoke and wrote as he played - spontaneously.

He valued emotion over accuracy and vision over pedantry. Yehudi was profligate - in words - as in everything else and he knew only one speed: full steam ahead.

Quotes from Menuhin

"My childhood was remarkably free from the deforming effects of competition. The standards against which I measured my achievements were the highest, and the attempt was made in reverent awe, not in a desire to be acknowledged superior."

"... the servant of another man's vision"

"As mistress, there is no winning her except by incessant victories over oneself, by demonstrations of perfect control ... The Guarnerius ... a phenomenon of coherent asymmetries, a fellow human mercifully absolving the player of his gaffes ... whose earthier voice belies the fact that it is often slightly smaller than most Strads, sings through its pores and sings de profundis. One need not rise above oneself, for it appeals to the natural man..."

"The performing violinist continually reviews the hours, days and weeks preceding a performance, charting the many elements that will release his potential ... he knows that when his body is exercised, his blood circulating, his stomach light, his mind clear, the music ringing in his heart, his violin clean and polished, its strings in good order, the bow hair full and evenly spread, then - but only then - he is in command ..."

"His stance must be erect yet supple so that like a graceful reed he may weave with the breeze and yet remain aligned from head through spine to feet. He is a living structure stretched between the magnets of sun and earth. Just as only a stretched string can vibrate, so before a violinist's body vibrates he must feel drawn upward, his head delicately poised on the vertebrae, his diaphragm raising him on a cushion of air, while the working parts of his anatomy - shoulders, hands and fingers - float and balance at different levels."

"... the supreme solo instrument, subjective enough to have meaning, anonymous enough to be universal, mobile as the man who cradled it from settlement to settlement, from concert to Opera house. The piano speaks with many voices, the violin is the individual voice, proved throughout history to speak to and for the multitude more effectively than any number of majority decisions, however harmoniously arrived at..."

"...One must rise to a Strad. before it will speak from its craftsman's soul. It spurns the man who lets his hand exert too much pressure or his finger fall ever so slightly wide of its mark. As master, there is no pleasing him except be faultless workmanship for he shines upon one's blemishes."

"I could recount my entire life in terms of a dialectical argument between the Stradivarius and the Guarnerius del Gesu..."

Books by Yehudi Menuhin

Biographies and other books

En France

In Deutschland sind erhältlich beim Piper Verlag