Abbey rings to the sound of praise for Menuhin, citizen of the world

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The Independent Online
MESSAGES FROM South Africa's outgoing President, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, were read out yesterday at the memorial service for Lord Menuhin, one of the century's greatest musicians and a noted humanitarian.

The Prince of Wales, Baroness Thatcher and Sir Edward Heath joined friends, ambassadors, human rights campaigners and figures from the world of classical music at the 90-minute service in Westminster Abbey.

The Rev Dr Anthony Harvey, sub-dean at the Abbey, told guests: "Yehudi Menuhin's interpretations of some of the greatest works in the violin repertory, which he began to make at a very early age, have influenced a whole generation of musicians.

"But he was more than a violinist. His sympathy for cultural traditions far outside that of classical music, his zeal to foster the talents of the young, his perception of the long-term threats and promises inherent in the social and technological changes of our time and his compassionate concern for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged are aspects of his generous nature for which we give heartfelt thanks."

Lord Menuhin, who was born in New York to Russian Jewish parents, and who constantly travelled the world, died in March, aged 82. He adopted British citizenship in 1985 but considered himself a citizen of the world and his fame went well beyond the classical sphere. The young prodigy, who gave his first public performance at the age of 10, gathered friends in all corners of the globe. Most of the major world faiths were represented at his memorial service. The Dalai Lama described him as a "spiritual brother", saying he had lost "a dear friend and comrade-in-arms in the struggle for a more peaceful and compassionate world".

The United Nations official Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan quoted the Koran and paid a personal tribute to Lord Menuhin's "frugal, modest life" which he lived "according to God's will and a scrupulous sense of justice". Archbishop Desmond Tutu read the message from Mr Mandela in which he described Lord Menuhin as a world citizen and ambassador of goodwill.

In his address, Professor George Steiner described Lord Menuhin as a "guru" to the world, whose ecumenism was "rooted in enlightenment and the anguished clairvoyance of the dangers that now surround us."