AT THE age of 12 he played the violin in a manner which made Einstein believe in god. At the age of 82 he was still conducting in concert halls across the world.
Yehudi Menuhin died of a heart attack yesterday in hospital in Berlin, where he had travelled to conduct the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra.
Last night world leaders paid tribute to a man who was not only one of the most gifted violinists who ever lived but also a passionate campaigner for humanitarian causes and an educator whose school in Britain produced its own virtuosos.
He played his first public concert at the age of seven in the United States. Five years later, in Berlin, when Menuhin was just a few days short of his 13th birthday, Albert Einstein followed him backstage, hugged him and declared: "Now I know there is a god in Heaven!"
Menuhin was best known for definitive recordings of the Beethoven and Elgar violin concertos. His longevity at the highest level is illustrated by a picture of the young violinist playing Elgar's concerto for the composer. More than once he introduced to the public works by famous composers. Bela Bartok, for instance, wrote the Sonata for Violin especially for him.
Menuhin lived in London with his second wife, the ballerina Diana Gould, with whom he had two sons. He received an honorary knighthood in 1965, but could not use the title until he became a British citizen in 1985. He was ennobled in 1993.
Just before Christmas he was promoting music teaching in British schools because he believed it could play a vital role in civilising society.
Tony Blair said yesterday: "Yehudi Menuhin... will be remembered the world over as one of the greatest musicians of his age,"
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