Unseen: Yehudi Menuhin stars in 1960 German film

Unseen: Yehudi Menuhin stars in 1960 German film


norman lebrecht

January 23, 2021

It’s called ‘Sabine and the 100 Men’ and it’s about a young woman who forms an orchestra with unemployed musicians.

Watch out for Yehudi’s warm-up routines and some super-rare footage of Ferenc Fricsay conducting the Berlin Philharmonic.

An unmissable treasure, totally new to Youtube.



  • Graham says:

    With an orchestra playing from memory, before the Aurora did it.

  • V.Lind says:

    I’d prefer to see the whole movie. Maybe someone can find a link (that includes English subtitles).

  • pianoguy says:

    Honestly, Norman, for someone who has spent a life around music and associated cultures your gaps in knowledge and awareness are somewhat bewildering. This is quite a well known film, sometimes shown on TV in Germany and elsewhere.

  • ira says:

    remake of 100 men and a girl, 1937, with deanna durbin and stokowski

  • RVS Lee says:

    So… the German remake of a 1937 Universal musical w/Durbin and Stokowski, and Menjou as a (2nd?) trombonist – which had a screenplay by German emigre Hans Kraly.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Looks like take on Deanna Durbin’s 100 Men and a Girl she made with Stokowski

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Considering how variable his adult playing could be, even on recordings with re-takes possible, Yehudi was in very good technical estate for the making of this film. The Beethoven Romance is more secure and solid — less slithery — than on his stereo recording with John Pritchard conducting from about the same time, and similarly the Mendelssohn Concerto finale is more secure than the roughly contemporaneous recording with Efrem Kurtz (who coincidentally preceded Fricsay at the Houston Symphony) conducting. There are enough good closeups of his left hand at work to make this movie clip of interest to violin students and fans. It is always interesting to see a veteran violinists hands because there are certain distortions to the fingers and fingertips of the left hand that a lifetime of playing causes, and one sees that here with Menuhin as well.

    Heh, I wonder if Ferenc Fricsay had to mark his score to say “look at girl and smile here.”

    As for the film itself, well … my father used to quote his own father – a Norwegian immigrant to the US: “few things are more depressing than a German trying to be jolly.”

  • Edgar Self says:

    Does anyone recognize the pianist? The conductor of the Beethoven Romance doesn’t look like Ferenc Fricsay, who is mentioned in the credits; perhaps he conducts the Mendelssohn.. My wife thinks it is Dieter Borsche, a star of kitsch films of the time. There are earlier Menuhin recordings of both Beethoven Romances with Furtwaengler and the Philharmonia; of Mendelssohn’s concerto with Furtwaengler and the BPO; and of Bach’s Preludio. Close-ups of fingering and bpwomg are always interesting. Is the rapid pllucked piece by Paganini? There is a live Tchaikovsky concerto with Fricsay/RIAS and Menuhin. who recorded Bartok, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mendelssohn concertos with Furtwaengler/PO/BPO/Luzern FO.

    Menuhin is in good form. I saw him in recital with his sister Hepzibah around this time at the San Francisco opera house,. I hadn’t seen this before or heard of it. Thanks, Norman.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Does Fricsay appear in this clip? Or are they only using a recording of his?

  • Peter Chun says:

    Wow… I’ve never been a Menuhin fan, but here he sounds PHENOMENAL!

    And so AWESOME to see Fricsay!

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    The word “kitsch” was made expressly for this.

    Wilhelm Thiele’s most important film in Hollywood exile was the anti-Nazi propraganda epic “Tarzan’s Desert Mystery” (1943).

  • Jonathon says:

    This was certainly a pleasure to watch, but why is everything a semitone high? Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in F minor?

  • Novagerio says:

    I don’t see Fricsay anywhere, unless he’s the hardly visible conductor in the introducing Beethoven.
    Here’s the full cast anyway

  • E says:

    This was a delight! Thank you.

  • Daniel Kravetz says:

    Could this have been a remake of the 1937 American film 100 MEN AND A GIRL? It starred Deanna Durbin and Leopold Stokowski.

  • JussiB says:

    There’s also an unseen Heifetz Hollywood film “They Shall Have Music” (1939)

  • Edgar Self says:

    Many hanks, Nicholas Logie, for the name of Menuhin’s piano accompanist in the film, Marcel Gazelle, which I remember from old records. He is as marvelously-named as Cosmo McMoon, who accompanied Florence Foster Jenkins. And thanks to all for mentioning the excellent conducrtor Ferenc Fricsay. I see Dieter Borsche’s name in the cast list a poter kindly gave a link to.

    It’s a wonder Menuhin found time to play the violin with all his other activities,- yoga, vegetarianism, education of himself and others, conducting, world peace, humanitarianism. He and his father Moshe Menuhin staunchly defended Furtwaengler after the war. Menuhin performed with him in Brlin as early as 1947f,then in London and Lucerne.

    David Nelson, what is the term for the rapid detached technique in the piece Menuhin plays so impressively in the film? Spiccato, ricochet, pizzicato don’t seem to fit. Do you know its name and composer? I should but don’t.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      At what point in the excerpt Edgar, like what minute and second? Apart from the Beethoven Romance, he plays a bit of Paganini Caprice 24, the left hand pizzicato part, a Spanish Dance (Habanera) by Sarasate which involves several fancy bowing techniques, Bach third partita preludio and of course the finale to the Mendelssohn (and yes the film seems speeded up, particularly when you see Menuhin walking towards the balcony where the musicians are playing the Beethoven).

      I also now see that Friscay is said to conduct only when it is the Berlin Philharmoniker, such as the Beethoven that opens the film excerpt, not the orchestra on the balcony etc.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Many rhanks, David. Left-hand pizzicati in he Paanini Caprice is what I blanked our on.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Well Edgar if I could play them correctly I’d be ….

      The music alternates arco (with bow) and left hand pizzicato and the bow stroke attempts to quickly and briefly grab the string — so it is rather a form of spiccato — and if it is done well (the bow has to be kept close to the strings or there would be a delay) you can hardly tell which notes are bowed and which are pizzicato left hand. Sarasate also used that device in many of his virtuoso pieces. I can do it only at tempos that could be called glacial or sloth-like.

      There is another technique that alternates left hand with “regular” pizzicato. It almost sounds the same, but in an odd way the spiccato bowed notes sound more like left hand pizzicato than does right hand pizzicato, at least to my ears.