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Music: Prodigious Pair

2 minute read

Extra police were called out to manage the crowds and more than 500 clamoring New Yorkers were turned from the doors. Inside Manhattan’s Town Hall last week the most curious audience of the musical season had gathered to hear Hephzibah Menuhin, 15, play piano and violin sonatas with her prodigious brother Yehudi, 17.

Paris and London had sent glowing reports of the second Menuhin prodigy, whose parents have kept her clear of the concert platform until this year (TIME, Dec. 10). But New Yorkers had to hear for themselves before they would believe that she had half the talent of her idolized brother. The youthful pair chose a program which would have taxed most grown-up musicians. They played Mozart’s A Major Sonata (No. 42), Schumann’s D Minor, Beethoven’s Kreutzer. Hephzibah, a husky tow-head like Yehudi, wore a long peach-colored dress that did not advertise her youth. She walked straight to the piano, bent over the keyboard, never raised her eyes to the audience.

With the difficult music both were perfectly at ease. The Mozart was graceful and fleet, though Yehudi’s tone was sometimes sleazy. The Schumann was richly romantic, the Beethoven flawless in shading and design. The teamwork throughout was beyond approach. Applause was all that bewildered Hephzibah who went on & off stage clinging tightly to Yehudi’s hand. He could not make her bow. But if Father and Mother Menuhin have their way Hephzibah will never require a platform manner. Though they have been besieged with offers from all over the U. S., last week’s Manhattan appearance was all they would permit. If Hephzibah can be argued out of a concert career her parents will be happier. Says Father Moshe Menuhin: “Catching airplanes, boats and trains, and a continual round of concerts, is no life for a woman.”

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