Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin, OM, KBE (April 22, 1916—March 12, 1999) was an American-born violinist, violist, and conductor who spent most of his performing career in the United Kingdom. He was a student of Louis Persinger, Georges Enesco, and Adolf Busch.
Yehudi Menuhin performed for allied soldiers during World War II, and went with the composer Benjamin Britten to perform for the inmates of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, after its liberation in April 1945. He went back to Germany in 1947 to perform music under the conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler as an act of reconciliation, becoming the first Jewish musician to go back to Germany after the Holocaust. After building early success on richly romantic and tonally opulent performances, he experienced considerable physical and artistic difficulties caused by overwork during World War II and unfocused early training. Careful practice and study combined with meditation and yoga helped him overcome many of these problems, and he continued to perform to an advanced age, becoming known for profound interpretations of an austere quality. When he finally started recording, he became famous for practicing pieces of music by deconstructing phrases one note at a time.
In 1952, Menuhin met and befriended the influential yogi B.K.S. Iyengar. Menuhin arranged for Iyengar to teach abroad in London, Switzerland, Paris and elsewhere. This was the first time that many Westerners had been exposed to yoga.
In 1962 he established the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey. He also established the music program at the Nueva School in Hillsborough, California sometime around then. In 1965 he received an honorary knighthood.
During the 1980s he made jazz recordings with Stephane Grappelli and of Eastern music with the great sitarist Ravi Shankar. In 1985 he was awarded British citizenship and had his honorary knighthood upgraded to a full one. In 1993 he was created a life peer as Baron Menuhin, of Stoke D'Abernon in the County of Surrey. Lord Menuhin died in Berlin following a brief illness, from complications of bronchitis.
His pupils include Nigel Kennedy and Hungarian violist Csaba Erdelyi.
Menuhin credited the German-Jewish philosopher Constantin Brunner with providing him with "a theoretical framework within which I could fit the events and experiences of life" (Conversations with Menuhin: 32-34).
Arguably the most famous of Menhuin's violins is the "Lord Wilton" Guarneri del Gesù violin made in 1742.
In 1990 he was awarded the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize in recognition of his lifetime of contributions.
Soon after his death, the Royal Academy of Music acquired the Yehudi Menuhin Archive, one of the most valuable and comprehensive collections ever assembled by an individual musician.