THE COMPLEAT VIOLINIST by Yehudi Menuhin

THE COMPLEAT VIOLINIST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The quaint title should serve as warning to anyone prone to take this as a serious guidebook for aspiring musicians. It is instead an odd volume of observations, some amusing, but almost all useless. Menuhin produced his autobiography, Unfinished Journey, in 1977. We had little idea then how unfinished it really was. He has since authored two books about the violin, and his wife came out with her own memoirs in 1985. Do we really need another book from this ex-child prodigy? Menuhin always stretched himself beyond the boundaries of music, with mixed results. His political views, including anti. Zionist and pro-PLO stances, were surprising. The present volume is really too foolish to offend anyone but the prospective music student who might take it seriously. A budding violinist could open the book to Menuhin's ""practical"" diet recommendations: ""Something I haven't tasted, but would love to, is koumiss (this is fermented mare's milk, available in Mongolia."") Too, there are comments on composers, so metaphysical as to be meaningless. We learn, for instance, that Beethoven ""speaks for human kind and not for himself."" The text is littered with photos of Menuhin in various yoga poses, admirably limber for 70. But none of his books, this included, discusses his hand tremors, apparently of psychological origin, that ruin his intonation and make his playing a trial. There is a story to be told in the decline of Menuhin, probably this century's greatest musical prodigy. But Menuhin obviously is not the one to tell it. In sum, an obiter dictum.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1986
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster