Yehudi Menuhin: Journeys with a violin

Monday, 04.01.2016 - Wednesday, 30.11.2016, Museum ground floor

To be a child prodigy and world-renowned violinist would be quite enough for many people – but not for Yehudi Menuhin. Over the years he added conductor, festival curator, school founder, philanthropist, peer, social commentator and yogi to his never-ending repertoire of activities.

The Royal Academy of Music Museum unveiled a new exhibition on this iconic musician on 4th January 2016. Drawn from the extensive Foyle Menuhin Archive held by the Academy, it accompanies the 2016 Menuhin Competition and marks 100 years since his birth.

Based on the theme of journeys, the exhibition traces Menuhin’s intellectual and geographical travels. It begins with the young violinist at seven years old, clad in shorts and performing in front of thousands. From this early era the displays explore musical scores annotated by his first teacher Louis Persinger, a childhood practice schedule, debut concert posters, and behind-the-scenes images with Menuhin’s dearest mentors and heroes, from Edward Elgar to George Enesco. Also in the exhibition is Menuhin’s violin case with its charismatic contents, which travelled with him to Berlin on the last journey he ever made. It is a poignant memorial to a much-loved musician.

Menuhin’s energy and quest for new challenges burst forth from his archive. The displays illustrate his voracious collaborations, from Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar, to the author of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Anthony Burgess and jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. See musical instruments collected by Menuhin and photographs of him doing sun salutations with the famous yogi BKS Iyengar.

A specially commissioned short film can be viewed in the exhibition. This features archival footage alongside new interviews with friends, collaborators and protégés of Menuhin.

Exhibition curated by Peter Sheppard Skærved (Viotti Lecturer in Performance Studies) and Joanna Tapp (Museum Curator).

Menuhin 100: find out more about our violin-focused events marking the centenary of Yehudi Menuhin’s birth on 22nd April 2016