FIDDLER'S MOLL: Life with Yehudi by Diana Menuhin

FIDDLER'S MOLL: Life with Yehudi

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KIRKUS REVIEW

On the road, for 30-some years, with violinist/conductor/seeker Yehudi Menuhin--in a pleasant, chatty roundup of anecdotes and wryly affectionate asides from wife Diana. After a brief account of her own precocious UK career as actress/dancer (Marie Rambert, Massine, Balanchine, a WW II tour of The Merry Widow), Diana devotes herself to family and, above all, ""Y"": ""If one performing artist marry another, it is obvious that one of the two must dissolve his or her persona in the other. As there was no question as to which of us had fulfilled himself to the greater degree in his purpose, then it was for me to sink my aspirations, my visions, my hope and what talent I had had into the task of offering what help, counsel, experience were mine. . ."" Thus, on tour, there will be thermoses to be kept filled with herb teas, foul plumbing to contend with (an ""egregious loo' in Poland), and violins to be kept warm. (""I took off my fur coat and wrapped it round Y's violin case in an effort to keep his Stradivarins and his Guarnerius from losing all voice."") There are highlights of two peripatetic decades--to Russia and India (music with Ravi Shankar, yoga with Nehru), Paris to Capetown, moments with Berenson or Rubinstein or Toscanini, concerts in Budapest or N.Y. (the 1957 encore controversy at Carnegie Hall), run-ins with flying locusts and conductors and diplomats. (When the lunching Soviet Ambassador mocked India's attempts at democracy, ""My blood boiled. I seized his untouched plate of meringue and cream, saying: 'Just for that remark, Your Excellency, you deserve to go without your pudding' and plonked it down out of reach."") And, while filling in more homey details (houses in London and Gstaad, festivals in Bath and Aldeburgh), Diana provides adoring, amused glimpses of her idealistic husband--""part Parsifal, part Don Quixote,"" fanatic for gadgets and philosophies and systems (including ""something called Ergomantics""). More like a very long magazine article than a full-textured memoir--but a lively, literate enough footnote to Yehudi's own Unfinished Journey.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's