14 June 2001
Menuhin; Concert Pianist, Younger Sister of Famed Violinist
was only the little sister. But she had a lot of musical talent too.
Yaltah Menuhin, younger sibling of the late violinist Yehudi Menuhin
and respected pianist in her own right, has died. She was 79. She died
Saturday in her London home.
Although her brother, who died in 1999, achieved the greatest international
fame, Yaltah and her older sister, Hephzibah, who died in 1981, received
extensive musical training as they grew up in San Francisco.
Yaltah Menuhin studied piano with Marcel Ciampi in Paris, Armando Silvestri
in Rome and Carl Friedberg at the Julliard School in New York.
She recorded classical piano pieces and gave solo performances with
orchestras from Califonia to Paris and Geneva. She also became known
for her work in chamber groups, notably with violinist Eudice Shapiro
and cellist Victor Gottlieb.
Occasionally, Menuhin performed with her famous brother and with her
sister. In 1966, at Yehudi Menuhin's 50th birthday concert in London's
Royal Festival Hall, he conducted Mozart's Concerto for three piano's
and orchestra with Yaltah, Hephzibah and his son Jeremy as the pianists.
In 1950, Yaltah Menuhin charmed an audience at Los Angeles' Wilshire
Ebell Theater when she performed with violinist Israel Baker. Times
critic Albert Goldberg called each "an excellent musician in his
own right'" and said "their ensemble offers a good deal of
interst by reason of the vitality of the perfomance and the freshness
Menuhin also performed piano solo's with the San Francisco Symphony
Orchestra and the Orange County Philharmonic in the 1950s.
In one 1958 concert with the Orange County orchestra at Fullerton Union
High School, she played one of her signature pieces, Chopin's Piano
Concerto No. 1.
By the 1960s, Menuhin was performing four-handed piano works with her
third husband, pianist Joel Ryce.
"The husband-and-wife team has devised an act of considerable potential,"
Times critic Walter Arlen said when the duo performed at Beverly Hills
High School under sponsorhip of the Beverly Hills Music Association
in 1965. "It offers variety, flexibility and the enticing promise
contained in lots of four-hand music which, like a buried treasure,
lies waiting to be rediscovered."
Menuhin's parents, Moshe and Marutha, developed a reputation for controlling
the lives and careers of their talented offspring, particularly Yehudi's.
Yaltah, as the youngest, developed her own reputation as the most rebellious
of the three.
She married for the first time when she was 16. That was to St. Louis
attorney William Stix, 10 years her senior, a staff lawyer for the National
Labor Relations Board. They separated after six months and, in a document
filed by her mother as her guardian, she obtained a divorce in San Jose
Next, at the age of 20, Yaltah eloped to Reno and married Benjamin "Bud"
Rolfe, a 27-year-old soldier then stationed at Fort Ord in California.
"We just discovered it. We are shocked. Yaltah came to us and confessed.
It will take time to swallow and digest the news," her father told
the news media six decades ago. "There have been several young
men here. There was Tom, and Dick, and Harry - and there was Bud."
Asked if the young couple had received the Menuhin parents' blessing,
her father said: "We are still adjusting ourselves."
That marriage produced Yaltah Menuhin's two surviving sons, Robert and
Lionel Rolfe. After her divorce from Rolfe, she married Ryce in 1960.
He died in 1998.
Yaltah Menuhin rarely performed in her recent years, but only last week
played a program of Chopin and Debussy at a school in Ipswich, England.