Violinist / Conductor Yehudi
A Conversation with Bruce Duffie
Yehudi Menuhin was many things to many people and his legacy is secure
in several areas. He was a child prodigy who supremely fulfilled
the promise of his youth, and achieved greatness as a violinist, as a
conductor, as a humanitarian. He was the whole package and yet he
was also humble and kind to those around him. Needless to say,
his memory is being honored not only through his achievements, but also
through his students and grand-students of several generations.
A brief summary of the details of his life are in the box following
this interview. There are, of course, recordings and videos
dating back to his earliest days, and an official website along with
other pages on the web — now including this one!
What you are about to read is a conversation I was privileged to have
with Menuhin on one of his trips to Chicago. In January of 1987,
he was conducting the Warsaw Sinfonia on their international tour, and
he graciously agreed to spend a few minutes with me at his hotel before
the concert at Orchestra Hall. Kind and gentle, with a noble air
and confident being, he made me feel welcome and responded to my
inquiries with thought and wisdom.
It may be a bit surprising to see what we did and did not talk about,
but here is that conversation . . . . .
Bruce Duffie: It’s
very gracious of you to see me in the midst of a hectic tour.
Yehudi Menuhin: Not at
all. A schedule imposes its own kind of routine. I like to
reach the next place before lunch — before 12:00 if possible
— which means that we start anywhere between six and seven in the
BD: [A bit
surprised] After a concert the night before?
YM: Yes, but I don’t
go out after the concert. Then I sleep in the
afternoon! It’s the only way to keep
going. Otherwise, you see, I’d arrive at
three or four in the afternoon and have no time to catch my breath
before leaving for rehearsal at six.
BD: When you’re
on tour with an orchestra, as you are now with the Warsaw Sinfonia,
will you rehearse in every different hall?
YM: Oh, yes.
Yes. They’re a fantastic orchestra, but to
keep everything interesting and fresh there’s always some new thing one
discovers. I discover things constantly. We rehearse, and it’s
like seeing new things in a landscape; it keeps the landscape
alive. I’m sure that Cézanne,
painting every day the same Mont Sainte-Victoire, saw every time
something new. He wasn’t repeating himself.
BD: Is this what
distinguishes a great piece of music, to always find something new?
YM: I think so, yes. And
it doesn’t even have to be great; if it’s
really good you can distinguish it. The excellent Polish piece we’re
playing on this tour of Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) [Concerto for
Strings (1948)] is the first big piece on the program. She
unfortunately, a few years ago; I met her sister in Warsaw. But it’s
a thoroughly excellent piece, wonderfully put together; it shows the
string orchestra off brilliantly and brings the soloists out in an
interesting way simply from its texture and structure. We
touch it up every few days, and at the next opportunity I’m
intending to take a symphony which I’ve never
heard more beautifully played — the Mozart G minor, which I think is quite
extraordinary the way they play it — and take it
apart and put it together again. It’s
very interesting because first of all, one discovers more and more as
one plays; secondly, little things creep in, so it’s like
dusting a room every day. It’s partly a bit
BD: Is there ever a case
where little good
things creep in?
YM: Oh, yes!! Oh,
yes! In fact the evening will often bring some inspiration.
They are sensitive; they know me well and I know them.
I can, with some little gesture, evoke something which they recognize
as an intention which hasn’t ever been
before. It’s a lovely sensation;
it gives one really the sensation of riding a stallion — something
that responds. It understands the situation. It’s
a wonderful satisfaction.
BD: As the conductor, do
you ever purposely leave a little bit of inspiration for the
performance instead of doing it all at rehearsal?
YM: Oh, yes. It’s
important to know what to rehearse, how much to rehearse, what to leave
— what one can leave with confidence, what one must leave either
because one wants to keep the expectation at its apogee or you may just
dull the edge with a little too much work; or one must leave things for
another time because it’s too much to demand them
at that moment because you’re keyed up for a
concert. And you may have a lunatic idea which you want to try,
and you think, "Well, I’d better not
tonight." [Both chuckle]
BD: You wait for the
YM: For the propitious
moment when there is breathing space. It’s
quite fascinating; It’s an
adventure, it’s a game, it’s
elation, it’s exuberance and it’s
discovery... providing I have two to three hours’
sleep in the afternoon. [Chuckles]
BD: Do you
like traveling all over the world with the music?
YM: Yes; yes, but I must
say I pay a price for it because I would love to be at home. My
wife is joining me next Thursday in Washington, but I couldn’t
expect her to come on these one-night stands. You cannot; it
would be abuse of a beloved person’s
devotion. We get up at five in the morning, drive five hours,
arrive and have a meal at half past two, then get ready for the concert
and come back at all hours. Besides, one needs, very much, every
moment of the day for concentration. It is different once the
tour is set and we reach a place where my wife can be in one place
— she can be in Washington for four days while I have an extra
free day in Washington which is very precious. I go to Richmond,
Virginia, and other places in the vicinity, and then we move to New
York and she stays there a week. That works out very well.
She’s coming to Japan with me next month, in
BD: Then let me turn the
question around. Is it not presumptuous on the part of the public
to expect this kind of abuse of the performer — traveling
all over the world for one-night stands?
YM: I wouldn’t
say it is. There are certain things we do daily, and those things
are demanded of us as part of our profession, which really
means that it’s part of our way of life. It’s
as much a part our routine as brushing one’s
teeth or any other function. You have to be prepared for
it. I mean, you cannot eat three big meals one on top of the
other. You have to time and pace yourself so that the concert is
the expression of the waiting the whole day to do what you want to
do! It would be impossible if one weren’t a
professional in that respect. I have been a touring professional
for the past 58 years and I have my routine and my kinds of things that
I do to eat and rest. There is not much time for extraneous
occupation. There’s no sightseeing. A
tourist couldn’t do this every day successfully,
because if you want to see all the museums and all the places in each
town and travel, he wouldn’t survive.
BD: Tell me
the secret of performing Mozart.
YM: [Thinks for a moment,
then answers in a low, relaxed voice] Ahhh. Are we doing
Mozart this evening? No, I don’t think so;
we are doing Mendelssohn. Well, Mozart is much deeper than people
assume. He is a master, he’s a
great master. People don’t read into Mozart
the gesture, the feeling, the intensity of expression masked behind the
smile. It is music of intense courtesy and chivalry; music of the
greatest sensitivity for human emotions. Mozart also understood
women better than any other composer. All you have to do is to go
to his operas and see that.
BD: Now you’ve
conducted some of his operas...
YM: Yes, I’ve
conducted the Entführung,
Così, La clemenza di Tito, La finta giardiniera...
BD: Is Clemenza different because it is an
YM: Yes. Tito is more static, more like
Handel in the arias. But there isn’t a
moment when he isn’t expressing something.
The mastery of Mozart is revealed in a work like Tito, which was his last. I
did a new production of it in Bonn two years ago. It handles the
most horrifying human situations, and you know there isn’t
one passage in minor in the whole opera, except for some very fleeting
BD: I hadn’t
YM: So behind the smile
he is portraying the most ghastly human passions — intense,
hateful, vengeful, destructive — as well as the greatest
devotion. And it ends, as generally all his operas end, in
reconciliation. Most of them; Don
Giovanni doesn’t, but that is his great
message. He is a man of intense sense of mission. Beethoven
we know. He shows his mission. We know exactly what he
stood for, we know his philosophy because he has written it down.
We know his passions, his hates, his explosive greatness, his
genius. In the later quartets, he has somehow surmounted these
wild passions, although there’s still a trace of
them. But Mozart has left us charming and often naught
letters. Enescu always said — and I think it’s
one of the truest things he said of Mozart — that he was
like the gentle vineyard growing on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Actually there was a volcano behind it, and of course the G minor
symphony is just that.
BD: Is Mozart himself the
pinnacle of music?
[Photo at left: Menuhin with Enescu]
YM: [Considers the
statement] The pinnacle... [With understated surety]
Oh, yes! There can be no question that he’s
one of the pinnacles. And he is elusive; every note stands for a
gesture. When I brought a Mozart concerto to Enescu, he said,
"You won’t really understand Mozart until you’ve
seen his operas." Whereupon my good father, taking the master’s
word literally, took me within a few months to Salzburg, where we
stayed for about two weeks, listening to opera every night. There
were other concerts during the day. I was then about 16, and it
was just right. After the two weeks we joined my mother and her
sisters on holiday in Italy. But that was a great revelation.
BD: Is his treatment of
voices in the operas different than his treatment of instruments in the
YM: No, not different,
and yet, what is revealing in the opera for people who want to
interpret Mozart is the way he marries the note to the word, and
therefore what the note means and what the phrase means to him in this
situation. These two elements — the syllable and the
situation — are both are revealed in the recitativi more
than anywhere else. And the recitativi are generally
abysmally handled; they just rattle the words down and then get on with
the music. Meanwhile, the conductor is impatiently waiting for
the silly thing to end and take up his fixed aria.
BD: So the recitatives
are just something to get around?
just to get around, and of course that is totally wrong because all the
dramatic action happens in the recitative. Once you get to the
aria you have a fixed situation; the music is moving but the words
remain the same, and you have an absolutely static dramatic
situation. It stops for the aria.
the revelation of the emotion of the moment...
YM: ...of the moment,
yes. But the dramatic action takes place during recitative, and
they must be handled with enormous care for each word, each
gesture. It’s mime, it’s
acting, it’s music, and they’re
wonderfully written — I mean psychologically, the way those
notes follow each other. And the harmony! They are
masterpieces, the recitativi, especially for Tito, which otherwise can be a
boring opera. It’s a sequence
of arias, very much like a Handel opera, and produced in a sort of
static way, with soldiers dressed in Roman costume, and nothing is
happening. It is scenery with great statuary. I had the
fortune of working with this excellent Italian director, Francesca
Siciliani, and we saw eye to eye with each other. She came to
Berlin some months before, and we went through the recitativi, because
that was my way. I wasn’t worried about the
music, the arias, but I was worried about the handling of those, and
the gesture that accompanied it all. So we went through every
word, and I made no cuts — which is difficult because
almost every singer cuts as much as they can.
BD: Well, Tito, of course, is a little
shorter. Così is
half again as long. Do you allow any cuts in Così?
YM: No, I didn’t
make any cuts in Così.
BD: That makes it a
rather long evening, then.
YM: Yes, but I don’t
believe in cuts. Once in a while I do leave out a repeat, but not
in a symphony. Of course if a singer is ill and you
get a replacement, then you have to put up with the sequence they’re
BD: But that’s
an emergency situation.
BD: I hope you haven’t
had to put up with that very often.
YM: Not too often,
no. But in Germany they never have an understudy because there is
an opera house every 50 miles — that is nearly true; it’s
hardly an exaggeration! If you are in the Ruhr area, you have
Köln and Düsseldorf and Bonn and Dortmund and Essen, and any
number of towns I’ve forgotten, all with their
BD: And all
within an hour’s drive of each other.
YM: Within an hour’s
drive! We had to find a replacement from Hamburg, but you always
find somebody who knows the role! It’s
BD: In general, do you
like the way that Mozart is performed when you’re
YM: No. To be quite
honest, I’ve rarely heard Mozart as I feel Mozart
should be. Rarely. Muti doing Così in Salzburg was sheer
bliss; there wasn’t a note wrong. There wasn’t
a gesture, there wasn’t a bit of scenery, there
wasn’t any dramatic handling that wasn’t
absolutely perfect bliss. I’ve never seen
anything more perfect. And of course their singers were quite
extraordinary. There have been unforgettable performances of
Mozart, but they are relatively few and far between.
BD: Now this Così with Muti has been
issued on records.
YM: I haven’t
BD: Well, do you feel
that the recording will recreate that perfect kind of condition you
experienced in the theater?
YM: It will come nearer
than most performances, yes.
recorded Abduction a long
time ago. I did it in English and with good singers. We had
done it in English; that was one of my first operas. I
had the naïve idea and I persuaded EMI that, as there were no
recordings in English, that probably everyone in the United States,
Australia, Canada, England and South Africa would want to hear the
opera in English. [Both chuckle] Well, the funny thing is
it did not sell to any extent at all, and as they have a policy that
anything that falls short of a certain scale is taken off the market,
that was taken off the market.
BD: Is it a recording you’re
YM: Ah, yes, I was quite
pleased with it. I’ve matured quite
considerably, so there are probably many refinements I would make that I
overlooked. But nonetheless, it was a good performance.
Anyway, the funny thing is that people want to hear the opera in its
BD: Is this a good thing?
YM: I think it’s
a good thing. Even if they don’t understand
it, the fact is that they want the authentic version.
BD: Have you seen this
new gimmick of putting supertitles in the theater above the proscenium?
YM: I haven’t
seen it, but I approve of it. I think it shouldn’t
distract from the view, but it’s like the
television performance of an opera. It does keep the audience
informed of what is happening, especially during the recitatives.
I think it’s rather a good thing, and
it’s the best solution — rather than
produce it in a translation. What requires translation is the
meaning, not the sound of the music. The meaning they get on the
little strip, and it leaves the opera to be performed in its original
language! There’s nothing worse than even
the best translation because Mozart and other composers wrote their
music for specific sounds and words that belong to their
language. I was very disappointed when I did La Finta Giardiniera in German.
BD: As Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe?
YM: Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe,
yes. It’s as valid as the other; I think
Mozart worked at the text himself — or perhaps
it was his father, but the music is simply not married to the words in
the same way. Italian is a wonderful language for singing.
BD: Are you optimistic
about the future of opera?
YM: [Thinks for a
moment] Ooh, I think as much as I am about the future of the
voice, as such. There may come a time when we won’t
sing anymore, like... who was that wonderful lady who wrote Silent Spring?
BD: Rachel Carson.
YM: Yes, Rachel
Carson. But that would be a calamity. We’re
working towards it, the way we’re going, but that
would be one of the greatest blights that ever affected mankind.
But as long as people have voices, I wish they’d
use them more. I’ve been talking my head
off about the need for children to sing at the beginning of every
school day, and for mothers and fathers to sing to their infants before
they’re born. I’m
the president of the Psychology of the Prenatal and
I am a member of the Royal Society of Medicine! I tell them I don’t
deserve that as I’ve never been to medical
school, but they say I know more about music therapy than anybody
else. So they made me a member, which is quite interesting.
They know more, now, about what happens before the child
comes to view the world. Those nine months are a conditioning,
for the future in every respect!
BD: Do you feel that each
concert you give is therapeutic?
YM: In a way; in a way. The
people I meet are responsible people; they’re
warm and their gratitude must denote some form of
reaction, and it seems to be a positive reaction. They may,
someday, but they haven’t yet thrown anything at
me. [Both chuckle] In the affection and the feeling of
warmth in the way they come backstage, you can tell if people have been
really moved. I think it’s therapeutic in
many ways. Not all music is therapeutic, though; some music today
is just the opposite. But think of the great Passions of Bach that really wring
the human heart, that take it through every conceivable state of being
— all the way from bliss and meditation, to terror, compunction,
a sense of guilt, to gratitude, to reverence. There’s
an American — I think he’s working in
Australia now... I wish I could remember his name — who has
evolved a sort of emotional cycle which begins, I think,
with love and ends with love, but it goes through all of the emotions in
a form of a sequence. He has also analyzed the music and
cataloged it in these terms. And he has evolved a kind of
monitor, a yardstick, so that the response of the person listening can
be analyzed. It goes a bit far in terms of a deliberate,
methodological kind of approach, but he’s found
that when he puts people through his whole cycle, which is what a great
work of music does, they are, as it were, purged of their negative
emotions; they’ve spent them. They’ve
been through them and they are far more balanced and relaxed
afterwards. He puts them through synthetically. I knew more
about it and I’ve forgotten the details; it’s
some years ago, now, but it’s very
interesting. In other words, the need for people to set fire to
stadiums or houses or throw bombs like terrorists, they want to get
their own back on society, or they’re
frustrated. Music is the first and most basic therapy of all
civilizations. By dancing it away or by acting it away or by
putting themselves through the great story — whether it is
the story of Jesus and the crucifixion in the New Testament, or whether
it is some other story which they’ve evolved in
Africa — they literally become more reliable and better
citizens. They are more balanced people because they
are getting rid of emotional toxins.
BD: Purging the mind.
YM: Purging the mind and
the heart. You come out feeling clean and seeing things in a new
light. There’s no doubt that the great Passions are therapeutic for the
faithful. There’s no question.
BD: But you have to be
ready to accept them.
YM: You have to be ready
to accept them. You have to be a believer, but you don’t
even have to be a literal believer. Once you know that human
passions are as they are, it can be Jesus who is crucified
that is the symbol. We have plenty of facts about the millions of
people who are being crucified every day around the world, whether they
are dying of famine or radioactivity, or they are refugees or whatever
it may be. Bach and the early Christians knew all about martyrs
to human idiocy and prejudice and malevolence and ambition and greed
and all the rest. It’s always been.
So you don’t have to literally be a
fundamentalist Christian; you can be a Jew or you can be anything else
and you know that it’s humanly
true. These are simply symbolic of what is true today, as it was
when poor Jesus was crucified. Human civilization
requires that we read into it what is the
beauty, the devotion, what it implies in terms of commitment, what it
implies in terms of our search for perfection, of translating our
vision into real relationships.
BD: Is there
music being written today that stirs those kinds of emotions?
YM: [Gently but
firmly] Yes! I think some of the pieces by Penderecki
because the Poles are true believers. [See my Interview with
Krzysztof Penderecki.] We live,
unfortunately — or fortunately, as you may wish to look at
it — in an age that ignores the symbolic, or pretends to
ignore the symbolic, and believes in reality. Reality without the
symbol isn’t really human
reality. They say, "Cut out that nonsense," — the
symbol — "We want the thing itself." What happens,
then, with the thing itself? The other night in my motel room,
out of curiosity I turned on the television and had my choice of
programs with strong language, violence, or sex. It’s
marked in a way so you can choose. It was one
of those pay-things where you press a button and get what you
want. [In a rather matter-of-fact, off-hand tone of voice,
somewhat under his breath] I took the sex one. It was enough
to disgust you altogether, because everything it stands for is the
reality without any symbolic content.
BD: And taken to its
YM: And taken to its
extreme. That’s the civilization we live
in, and yet the astronauts will go to the Moon and write mystical
accounts of what the Earth looks like. When the advertisers want
us to smoke more, they will show it in the light of touching innocent
youthful romance next to unpolluted waters. You see? We
haven’t lost that ability. And as far as
being pagan is concerned, we have never stopped being pagan. We
have adopted the monotheistic, which is the symbolic unity and the one
God. But the fact is that we have never abandoned the many gods;
nor can we, nor should we! I think it’s
part of what we have to have. The Old Testament is a transition
from the pagan to the monotheistic, which is one that occurred over a
huge part of the world to millions of people. I just conducted Betulia liberata of Mozart.
It’s a big oratorio which he wrote when he was
15. It’s the story of Judith slaying
Holofernes, this tyrant of the pagan horde which is putting Betulia
under siege. The residents are reduced to famine and there is
nothing to eat. The Jewish king of Betulia is implored; his
residents implore him to surrender, but he feels it’s
better, in the end, to die. At this moment the prince of the
pagans has been pushed aside and deposed by the tyrant. The
prince is an accepted traditional figure; you have a prince, and he’s
devoted to you. But a tyrant is a totally different thing.
It’s Amin; it’s
Bokassa. No self-respecting civilization ever lived
without a prince or a king. So the prince comes. He has
left the tyrant and offers himself. He says, "I have long
respected the Jews for your belief in the One God. I think it’s
quite extraordinary when I see how he has interceded on your behalf so
often." The whole oratorio is a story of the transition from the
pagan to the monotheistic. But the Jewish King says it’s
not enough to adore him. You must abandon your faith and you must
really put all your trust in Him. And then, there’s
this most wonderful line in the whole the oratorio. He says, "I
love my pagan gods. I can handle them, I can talk to them, I can
see them! And you want me to leave all of this for a god I can’t
even touch?" Then the story goes on. Judith is dressed in
the most wonderful, resplendent clothes from the Jewish camp, and says,
"I’m going alone." She goes alone to their
enemies, seduces Holofernes, and comes back with his head. And of
course that’s the triumph of the Jewish
God. I did it in Vienna without
cuts, and it was beautifully done. All the recitative were
wonderful. I tell you this story to illustrate that
we live in a civilization that doesn’t
recognize abstractions, that wants to see and touch everything — a
motorcar, the Moon, sex, whatever it may be we want to see and
touch. We forget that these are only indications; the senses are
only guides to a state of being, and we have to interpret. We’re
not human unless we interpret.
BD: Is this what makes
music so special for you, that it exists in time and you can’t
Exactly. You’ve put your finger on
it. That is what’s extraordinary about
music. It’s tangible because it affects our
ear as it goes into our body, but as vibrations. We can’t
actually put it on a table and say that it weighs so much and we’ll
send it by air mail... unless it is on a record! The
extraordinary thing is that it’s both tangible
and intangible. It bridges the world of the so-called intangibles
— from the world of vibrations to the world of matter! It
is the marriage of vibration and matter. Therefore Einstein was a
violinist because music is the union, the bridge, the link of the
two. When we receive music, we are really receiving the union,
the contact, if you wish, with all the vibrations of the whole universe
which are man-fashioned and transformed in the art of time. It’s
like poetry, but even more musical. It’s
rhythm and it’s poetry, melody and harmony; it’s
like a sculptor, but one who sculpts in time. It takes
time. No other art — except poetry and drama — occupy
time. They occupy space. Time enables music to put us
through a dramatic, intense, subjective situation. We live it, we
actually live it. When we are looking at a painting, we can live
it but we have to reinterpret through our eyes. One can do that
but we have to make the effort. Whereas in music, it invades us,
as it were. And then, the more we know about it, the more we can
follow it with our minds, with our hearts, with everything! Humor
and teasing in Mozart’s music — and
Beethoven’s, for that matter — everything,
every human emotion is there. And sometimes, as you
grow older, it’s almost better than the real
thing. It’s been very curious. I
enjoy my profession.
been most gracious to spend a little time with us this afternoon.
YM: I was delighted!
Born: April 22, 1916 - New York, USA
Died: March 12, 1999 - Berlin, Germany
The American violinist and conductor, Yehudi Menuhin, had
one of the longest and most distinguished careers of any violinist of
the 20th century. Menuhin was born in New York of Russian-Jewish
parents, recent immigrants to America. By the age of seven his
performance of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto had found him instant
fame. As a teenager he toured throughout the world and was considered
one of the greats long before his twentieth birthday. Even in his
earliest recordings one can sense deeply passionate responses to the
great composers. Though considered a technical master, it is his highly
charged emotional playing that set him apart.
As a young man Yehudi Menuhin went to Paris to study under violinist
and composer George Enesco. Enesco was a primary influence on Menuhin
and the two remained friends and collaborators throughout their lives.
During the thirties, Menuhin was a sought after international
performer. Over the course of World War II he played five hundred
concerts for Allied troops, and later returned to Germany to play for
inmates recently liberated from the concentration camps. This visit to
Germany had a profound effect on Menuhin.
As a Jew and a classical musician, Yehudi Menuhin had a complex
relationship with German culture. He was fluent in German and deeply
influenced by classical German composers. Menuhin found in the German
conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler an important musical peer. Despite
accusations of Wilhelm Furtwängler's pro-Nazi sympathies, Menuhin
continued to support him and his work. It seemed that for many years,
Menuhin led a double life. He was an outspoken supporter of dozens of
causes for social justice, while also longing for a solitary life where
he could ignore the concerns of society and attend only to the history
of music and his role within it.
Throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s, Yehudi Menuhin performed and made
recordings from the great works of the classical canon. During this
time he also began to include rarely performed and lesser known works.
One of his greatest achievements is the commissioning and performing of
Sonata for Solo Violin by Béla Bartók. In Béla
Bartók, Menuhin found a composer of deep emotion and pathos that
mimicked his own. Béla Bartók's work was at once
technically rigorous and open to interpretive playing. Of Menuhin,
Béla Bartók said he played better than he imagined he
would ever hear his work played. Their collaboration is considered one
of the greats of twentieth-century classical music.
By the 1960’s, Yehudi Menuhin began to increase the scope of his
musical involvement. In 1963 he opened the Yehudi Menuhin School, a
school for musically gifted children. He also began conducting, which
he would continue to do until his death. He conducted in many of the
important music festivals and nearly every major orchestra in the
world. It was around this time he also broke from his traditional roots
and did work outside of the classical genre. One of his most successful
ventures out of traditional performance was with the great Indian
composer and sitarist Ravi Shankar.
Throughout the last twenty years of his life, Yehudi Menuhin continued
to engage in every aspect of musical work. As a performer, a conductor,
a teacher, and a spokesperson, he spent his seventies and eighties as
one of the most active musicians in the world. He was a constant
contributor to religious, social, and environmental organizations
throughout the world.
Among his many books were: ‘Violin: Six Lessons’ (1972); an
autobiography ‘Unfinished Journey; (1977); with Curtis W. Davis ‘The
Music of Man’ (1980), based on the television series of the same title,
and ‘Life Class’ (1986)
© 1987 Bruce Duffie
This interview was recorded in Chicago on January 31,
1987. Portions (along with recordings) were
broadcast on WNIB later that year and again in 1990, 1991 and
1996. A copy of the unedited audio tape was placed in the Archive
of Contemporary Music at Northwestern University. The
transcription was made early in 2009 and posted on this
website soon thereafter.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been
transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago
from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of
2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and
journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM,
as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.
You are invited to visit his website
for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of
other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also
to call your attention to the photos and information about his
grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a
century ago. You may also send him E-Mail
with comments, questions and suggestions.