11 June 2001
who accompanied her famous brother
pianist Yaltah Menuhin was the youngest of the three musical Menuhin
siblings. Although her mother saw no musical prospects for her third
child, both the violin-playing Yehudi and the piano-playing Hephzibah
considerd Yaltah to be the most gifted of them all. Together the trio
appeared in concerts across the world and were a mainstay of the Bath
Music Festival, where Yehudi was artistic director throughout the 1960's.
performing years were spent largely in the United States, where she
formed a popular duo with her husband, the pianist Joel Ryce. They played
together either as four hands on one piano, or in a two-piano arrangement.
She also formed a partnership with the violist Michael Mann, son of
Menuhin was born to Russian-Jewish parents. Her formidable mother, Marutha,
was from a Crimean family which belonged to the tiny Karaite sect and
fled the pogroms in 1904. Yaltah was named after the Black Sea resort.
As the talents of Marutha's first two children became apparent, the
family engaged in a nomadic life-style in order that the children could
always be together. But Marutha did little to encourage her youngest
child, who remembered her mother as a tyrant, responsible not only for
neglecting her children but for breaking up her son's first marriage.
began playing the piano at the age of three and studied in Paris with
Marcel Ciampi and later at the Juilliard in New York with Carl Friedberg.
As the Menuhin travelling circus moved around the world, governesses
taught the siblings in the local language.
Hephzibah, Yaltah occasionally accompanied Yehudi, and from time to
time all three would appear together, such as at Yehudi's 50th birthday
concert at the Royal Festival Hall in 1966, when he conducted his sisters
and his son, Jeremy, in Mozart's three-piano concerto.
was a well known name in the concert halls of Los Angeles, where the
music of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Chopin was her prime strength.
the last two or three years Yaltah returned occasionally to the keyboard.
She revised old works and revisited pieces that she had not performed
for several decades. Her valedictory concert was last Wednesday at Orwell
Park School, Ipswich, where she played a heavy programme of preludes
by Chopin and Debussy.
died in 1981 and Yehudi - by then Lord Menuhin - died in 1999.
was briefly married at the age of 16. She married Benjamin Rolfe in
1941 but they divorced. In 1960 she married Ryce who predeceased her
three years ago. She is survived by the two sons of her second marriage.