The rare sound of Yehudi Menuhin playing Scottish reels

The rare sound of Yehudi Menuhin playing Scottish reels


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2020

The composer Eddie McGuire has alerted us to a new article by Stuart Eydmann on the 1985 concert and public workshop where Yehudi Menuhin interviewed and played with six Scots fiddlers representing six different fiddling styles. Eddie composed a piece for them to all play together as a finale – a melody called ‘The Fiddler’s Farewell’ followed by a reel ‘Mr Menuhin’s Delight’.

You can hear the audio track here.



  • Save the MET says:

    Menuhin’s British accent is always amusing. He didn’t move to the UK until 1959….he was 43……..a tad late to effect a new accent with any authenticity I’d think.

  • engineers_unite says:

    And Menuhin noted at the time he could not understand how they played, – more simply couldn’t get the hang of their idiosyncratic (read smart) bowing.

    Apparently one of the strange things Menuhin struggled with most of his life, HIMSELF…..

    • Robert Roy says:

      Arguably, the greatest practioner of violin playing there’s ever been. Especially in his younger years when he possessed a fire that few have matched.

      • engineers_unite says:

        Whatever are you on about?
        Busch who the little Menuhin went to, was so annoyed with the boy he vowed never to take another child musician again.

        Ever heard of Hassid?
        Kreisler I believe said “a Heifetz appears every 100 yrs, a Hassid every 200!”

        Fact is, Menuhin had an incredibly short career.
        After the age of about 18-20 it was all over.
        (This opinion was shared with me by one of the greats.)

        My own teacher said “what is that?”
        That is not a violinist!
        One of the few in my opinion who actually had the right to say such a thing.

        The evidence is there, – a lot has been wrong with violin teaching in the UK, much of it because of Menuhin, who didn’t do much chamber music nor teaching.

        A great humanist maybe,- but so was Hubermann, and he made a mostly forgotten contribution to music worldwide…. and what about Auer & Thibaut & Flesch?

  • TI says:

    Fiddler’s Farewell: An Interview with Composer Eddie McGuire

  • Edgar Self says:

    But Yehudi did yoga, ragas. and stood on his head better than most violinists, and his Chausson “Poeme” with his teacher Georges Enescu is tops. The great Bronislaw Hubermann is not forgotten as long as streets and conservatories with his name exist or the Israel Philharmonic that he materially helped to found, or his recordings, including the best Beethoven concerto I know, with Szell and the VPO, and two notable “Kreutzers”.

    Menuhin’s post-War defense wirh his father Moshe Menuhin of Furtwaengler as early as 1947, after careful research, speaks for him, as do their records of Bartok, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Beethoven.

    But, no mention of Heifetz, Uto Ughi, Vasa Prihoda, Leonid Kogan?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Lord Menuhin, earlier Sir Yehudi, was an internationalist, like Bronislaw Hubermann and Barenboim, with not uncritical ties to Israel like them, but might turn up in China, India or Ceylon, Poland, Britain, or California.

    His career started before he was 15. At 16 he recorded Elgar with the composer, and soon Chausson’s “Poeme” and Bach’s double with his teacher Enescco. He was the second to perform Schumann’s concerto after Kulenkampf pipped him to the post. His technique and career underwent vicissitudes usual with prodigies, as he turned to conducting and education, championing yoga, vegetarianism, and head-standing.

    Still his Bach commanded respect, also Handel concertos with oboistLeon Goossens, and Purcell’s “Golden Sonata”

    His sister Hepzibah, his son Jeremy, daughter Yalta, and son-in-law for a time Fou Ts’ong, were artists, musicians.

    I saw him in recital with Hepzibah at the opera house in San Francisco in perhaps the early 60s, I think playing the “Kreutzer” although this memory has faded.

    He helped rehabilitate Furtwaengler’s reputation after investigating, and already in 1947 began performing and recording with him in Berlin, Lucerne, and London Beethoven’s two Romances and concerto, Bartok, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.

    This took courage during and after the Chicago debacle, when ptominent American Jewish musicians prevented Furtwaengler from taking up his contract with the Chicago Symphony. Instead, La Scala and RAI got Parsifal, Meistersinger, and the Ring with Flagstad and Furtwaengler, and Chicago got Kubelik and Martinon.