Yehudi Menuhin (April 22, 1916 – March 12, 1999) was perhaps the most famous child prodigy of the 20th century. He began taking violin lessons at the age of four, and gave his first solo performance at the age of seven with the San Francisco Symphony. He went on to have a long and renowned concert career, not only as a violinist, but also as a conductor and violist.
Menuhin began recording in 1928 at the age of twelve. In his most famous early recording, made in 1932, he recorded Elgar’s Violin Concerto with Elgar himself – age 75 – conducting. Many of his recordings were made with his sister Hephzibah, who was four years younger than Yehudi and who accompanied him regularly on the piano for 40 years. Together, they became one of the most highly-esteemed violin and piano duos of the 20th century, and when she died in 1981, Menuhin told the New York Times, “We needed few words. We played almost automatically, as if we were one person.” As Hephzibah herself put it, they had a “Siamese soul.”
In this historic video, made in London in 1960, brother and sister perform the glorious Sonata for Violin and Piano by César Franck.