Wednesday, 13 June 2001

A gifted member of a famous musical family, she trod her own path to self-expression

The pianist Yaltah Menuhin, who has died aged 79 after a heart attack, was the younger sister of Yehudi, the violinist, and Hephzibah, also a pianist.

While Hephzibah was one of Yehudi’s most constant musical partners, Yaltah took a separate path: she sometimes performed at the Bath festival, which Yehudi directed during the 1960s, and recorded one Mozart slow movement with him, but she also made an independent career in the United States.

Named after the Crimean resort, Yaltah was born in San Francisco to the Russian-Jewish parents, Moshe and Marutha, whose musical gift to the world is vividly evoked in ‘Menuhin’, Humphrey Burton’s biography of Yehudi, published last year.

Touring internationally in the wake of Yehudi and his parents, the two sisters were, like him, kept away from schools, but they all learnt European languages from tutors and acquired a sophisticated culture, as well as their musical education.

At the age of 15, Yaltah was composing proficient French alexandrines about her dreams and crushes. Rudolf Serkin, who taught both sisters the piano as small girls, thought Yaltah the more talented.

But, in temperament, she was less robust than Hephzibah, who fought more successfully against their parents’ reluctance that either should have a musical career, and who was so close to Yehudi that Yaltah was made to feel an awkward third.

When Yehudi and Hephzibah both decided to marry into a prominent Australian business family, Yaltah was 16, and was allowed by her parents to marry a lawyer from St Louis. The marriage lasted for only a year, and was an extremely painful experience for her; recriminations with her parents were such that, during the last 30 years of her mother’s life, she refused to see her daughter.

Yaltah was a sensitive and revealing pianist, and, during a period in Los Angeles, became more engaged with contemporary music than the musically mainstream Hephzibah. She was fortunate in her third marriage, in 1960, to a gifted American pianist, Joel Ryce. He later retrained as a psychotherapist, and became well respected in Jungian circles; they settled in west Hampstead.

A high-water mark in the tide of the Menuhins was reached in 1966, when Yehudi conducted his sisters and his youngest son, Jeremy, in Mozart’s three-piano concerto at his 50th birthday concert in London. Soon afterwards, Yaltah’s main priority came to be supporting Joel in his new career. In 1981, Hephzibah died of cancer; Joel died in 1998, shortly before Yehudi.

During the last year of her life, Yaltah enjoyed a late musical re-flowering, which included a touching performance of Mozart at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with a young violinist from the Yehudi Menuhin school. At her last recital, at Orwell Park school, Ipswich, only a week before her death, she gave a taxing programme of preludes by Chopin and Debussy.

Blessed with long golden hair, Yaltah developed a distinctive dress sense, with wispy gold embellishment and faint overtones of druidism. Her home, and her letters, were all in keeping, and late in life she began to make charming icon-like paintings on wood panels.

She was a determined original, tireless in reaching out to feed, comfort, heal and advise. Yehudi wrote of her in his autobiography that she was “reaping the rewards in kindness and gratitude that life has otherwise denied her”. The two sons of her second marriage, to Benjamin Rolfe, survive her.

Jonathan Benthall

Tuesday, 26 June 2001

Yaltah Menuhin was the youngest of three Menuhin children. A distinguished pianist, she played widely as a soloist, in recital with many fine string players, and in a four-hand and two-piano duo with her third husband, Joel Ryce, She played occasionally with her famous brother, Yehudi, and with him and their sister, Hephzibah, most notably at the Bath Festival …

… when Yehudi was its director. In 1966, at a celebration of Yehudi’s 50th birthday, they were joined in a concert at the Royal Festival Hall by his pianist son Jeremy.

Yaltah’s life was not an easy one. An unwanted third child, she was born inconveniently in 1921 at the time when her brother’s talents were exploding. From an early age her life consisted of constant travelling, as the family accompanied Yehudi on his early tours. Piano studies began at three, early teachers being Rudolph Serkin and Marcel Ciampi, and the family set a rigorous study schedule of music and languages, with no toys or friends allowed. Even the afternoon walks were spent memorising philosophical texts. Conversation had to be conducted in the language that was being studied, even when reporting illness.

In later life Yaltah would recall that virtually all the family’s attention centred on Yehudi, with any remaining for Hephzibah. Although Yaltah played in public from youth, her parents took little interest in her career. While the opinion was occasionally mooted that hers was possibly the finest talent of the three children, her ability went largely unrecognised. She was told at home that it was only the Menuhin name that made people suppose that she had something to offer. Everything she achieved throughout her life needed great determination and initiative.

When Yaltah was 16, her mother forced her to marry a wealthy lawyer whom she hardly knew. For her this was a most devastating moment: being pushed into an arrangement for the sake of money and expediency made her feel unwanted and unloved.
The sham marriage collapsed after only six months. Wishing to avoid scandal, she escaped to New York. There, under the pseudonym Kate Davies, she studied at the Juilliard for some months with Carl Freidberg, living in near poverty on a diet consisting mainly of cabbage.

On her return home to San Francisco in 1940, she was confronted by her mother with the prospect of another forced marriage. She avoided it by eloping with Benjamin Rolfe, a US Army officer, who was facing similar pressure from his parents. She became an army wife, moving from camp to camp with her husband. Later they settled in Los Angeles, where Yaltah became known for playing Mozart, Chopin and Mendelssohn, as well as for her performances of contemporary music. She also toured with the violinist Israel Baker, the violists Paul Doktor and Michael Mann, and the cellists Gabor Rejto and George Neikrug.

Her impulsive marriage proved not to be a happy one. Although two sons were born, her husband grew increasingly jealous of her career. On some occasions when she returned from a concert, he refused to let her into the house. Faced with a rapidly deteriorating situation, she eventually decided, with the support of her elder son, to leave.

In 1959 she moved to London, where she met and later married the American pianist Joel Ryce, to the strong disapproval of her mother who thenceforth refused to acknowledge her existence. She and Joel were blissfully married for 38 years. The couple performed as a piano duo regularly for 10 of them.

In 1971, physical problems forced Joel’s early retirement as a musician. During the difficult transition to his second career as a highly regarded Jungian psychotherapist, Yaltah supported him, putting her own career in second place. She retired from concert life after a heart attack in 1988. When Joel died in 1998 she was devastated, but gradually her spirit reasserted itself and she resumed playing. My lasting musical impression was her brief appearances with the 13-year-old violinist Nicola Benedetti, a rising star from the Menuhin School, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall last November, and in Glasgow only last month.

I had daily contact with Yaltah Menuhin during her last three years. She was a person of angelic disposition who saw good in everything and everybody. A gifted poet, linguist, painter and cook, she was generous with her time, energy and extraordinary warmth, putting others first while retaining independence to pursue her own direction.

Riki Gerardy

Monday, 11 June 2001

Pianist who accompanied her famous brother

The 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.

Yaltah’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 Thomas Mann.

Yaltah 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.

Yaltah 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.

Like 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.

Hers was a well known name in the concert halls of Los Angeles, where the music of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Chopin was her prime strength.

Over 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.

Hephzibah died in 1981 and Yehudi – by then Lord Menuhin – died in 1999.

Yaltah 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.

Thursday, 14 June 2001

Concert Pianist, Younger Sister of Famed Violinist

She 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 of approach.”

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 Superior Court.

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.

Myrna Oliver

Tuesday, 12 June 2001

Yaltah Menuhin, 79, Pianist in Musical Family

Yaltah, a pianist and the younger sister of the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, died on Saturday, The Times of London reported. The Times did not report where she died. She was 79.

Ms Menuhin, the youngest of the three Menuhin siblings, who all became prominent musicians, was born in San Francisco in October 1921. She grew up traveling the world with her family as Yehudi, who was five and a half years her senior, established his early career.

But like her older sister, Hephzibah, she was attracted to the piano rather than the violin. Ms Menuhin’s teachers included Marcel Ciampi, in Paris; Armando Silvestri, in Rome; and Carl Friedberg, at the Juilliard School in New York. Occasionally she performed with her brother as an accompanist and chamber music parner, and she sometimes played piano duets with her sister as well.

At Yehudi Menuhin’s 50th-birthday concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1966, he conducted a performance of the Mozart concerto for three piano’s in which the soloists were Hephzibah, Yaltah and Jeremy, his son.

Ms Menuhin performed regularly as both a soloist and a chamber player. In 1951 she made a joint New York debut with Israel Baker, the violinist. She also performed with Michael Mann, a violist and the son of Thomas Mann. And in the 1960’s she began a piano duo with her husband Joel Ryce. Mr. Ryce died in 1998. An earlier marriage, to Benjamin Rolfe, ended in divorce.

Ms Menuhin is survived by two sons, Robert and Lionel Rolfe.

Although she had retired from the concert stage, Ms Menuhin gave occasional performances in recent years. Her last, on Wednesday, was at the Orwell Park School in Ipswich, England, where she played a program of Chopin and Debussy Preludes.

Allan Kozinn

Tuesday, 12 June 2001

Yaltah Menuhin, the pianist who has died aged 79, was the last survivor of a celebrated family musical trio.

The younger sister of the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, she often appeared with him and with her elder sister the pianist Hephzibah Menuhin.

They gave concerts all over the world and were particularly associated in Britain with the Bath Festival, of which Yehudi was artistic director in the 1960s.

But Yaltah was best known in America where she and her husband Joel Ryce played either as four hands at one piano or at two piano’s. She also played with the violinist Michael Mann, son of the writer Thomas Mann. Her specialities were Chopin, Mozart and Mendelssohn.

Yaltah Menuhin was born in San Francisco on October 7 1921. Her parents were Russian-Jewish emigrés and named their youngest child after the Black Sea resort. She grew to dislike her tyrannical mother, who did little to encourage her musical talent. Yaltah Menuhin began to play the piano aged three and studied in Paris with Marcel Ciampi and at Juilliard in New York with Carl Friedberg. The Menuhin children were taught by governesses as they toured the world.

All three performed together on occasions, as at the Royal Festival Hall in 1966 at Yehudi’s 50th birthday concert. He conducted and the sisters, with Yehudi’s son Jeremy, performed Mozart’s Concerto for three piano’s.

Yaltah Menuhin’s last recital was earlier this month at an Ipswich school; she played Chopin and Debussy. Yaltah Menuhin married first, aged 18, William Stix. She married secondly, Benjamin Rolfe. She married thirdly, in 1960, Joel Ryce. She had two sons.

June/July 2001 edition

The musical profession is saddened to have lost the last of the celebrated Menuhin siblings: Yehudi, Hephzibah and Yaltah.

Yaltah, the youngest of the three, was never encouraged to develop her great gifts, while Yehudi and Hephzibah were treated as phenomenal instrumentalists.

A despotic mother made sure that the children were given every opportunity to study with the most outstanding pedagogues, first in the USA, then in Paris where Yehudi, aged 11, asked to study with Georges Enescu and Hephzibah, aged 6, was accepted by Marcel Ciampi, professor at the Paris Conservatoire, at Enescu’s recommendation.

When Mrs. Menuhin arrived at professor Ciampi’s he was most impressed with Hephzibah’s playing of several solo pieces as well as accompanying Yehudi. The 4 year-old Yaltah wanted to play for him, but Monsieur Ciampi gently declined: “I am sorry but this is not a kindergarten”.

While he was discussing future meetings, Yaltah ran to the piano and started to play Schumann’s ‘Kinderszenen’. The amazed Monsieur Ciampi exclaimed: “Madame, you must have a conservatoire in your womb!”. Thus Yaltah also started her lessons with the master. In the interview in Piano Journal (no. 3 1982 ‘The Menuhins talk to Carola Grindea’) Yaltah describes the young musicians’ daily drill. “Whether you had fever or even surgery, the practising had to be done. There was no respite. Then there were the lessons with the various tutors. Every minute of the day was planned and rigidly adhered to.”

Yaltah soon became quite an accomplished pianist in spite of having repeatedly been told that she was no good and would never be like her siblings. She was just 16 when she was married off, the poor girl agreeing to it in the hope of freeing herself from her tyrannical mother. The marriage did not last long as she wanted to be a musician. Her second marriage also ended because her husband would not allow her to perform.

It was Yehudi who greatly encouraged her and she appeared in solo recitals or playing with several outstanding instumentalists. Among them was a young pianist, Joel Ryce, with whom she formed a succesful piano duo. They married and, at last, Yaltah found not only happiness but also fulfilment as a musician. “For the first time in my life I could play as I wanted without being asked “Please, can you play softer …”. They settled in the UK where they started to teach at the newly-established Yehudi Menuhin School whil continuing their concert careers.

Occasionally Yaltah joined Hephzibah and Jeremy, performing the Bach or Mozart Two or Three Piano Concertos, with Yehudi conducting, but gradually she withdrew from playing in public, particularly when her husband decided to change careers and become a psychotherapist. After Joel’s death in 1998 and then Yehudi’s in 1999, she found solace in attending the local synagogue or creating delightful ‘objets d’art’ which she painted in vivid colours, which she then offered to some of her close friends. She became more and more withdrawn trying to cope with the void in her life until her own death in June this year.

September/October 2001 edition

Yaltah Menuhin: Concert Pianist, Younger Sister of Famed Violinist

Pianist Yaltah Menuhin died in England on June 9 at the age of 79. The younger sister of Yehudi Menuhin, she occasionally performed with him as well as with her pianist sister, Hephzibah.

At Yehudi’s 50th birthday concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1966, he conducted the Mozart Concerto for three piano’s with his sisters and his son Jeremy as soloists. Yaltah’s final recital, at a school in Ipswich, England, took place three days before she died.

Woensdag, 13 juni 2001

De pianiste Yaltah Menuhin, de jongste zus van violist Yehudi Menuhin, is zondag op 79-jarige leeftijd overleden. Hun muzikale talent bezorgde de in San Francisco geboren Yaltah en Yehudi Menuhin en hun zus Hepzibah al op jonge leeftijd roem. De piano spelende zussen Yaltah en Hepzibah bereikten echter niet dezelfde internationale status …

… als hun broer, met wie ze wel over de hele wereld optraden. In de VS trad Yaltah Menuhin vaak op met haar echtgenoot, de pianist Joel Ryce. Yehudi Menuhin overleed in 1999.

Jueves, 14 de junio de 2001

Yaltah Menuhin : La pianista rebelde de una familia de músicos

La pianista Yaltah Menuhin, fallecida a los 79 años de un ataque al corazón, era la hermana menor del violinista Yehudi Menuhin y de Hepzibah Menuhin, también pianista.

Aunque su hermana Hepzibah solía acompañar a Yehudi en sus actuaciones, Yaltah decidió tomar un camino artístico distinto; a veces participaba en el festival de Bath, que Yehudi dirigió durante los años 60, y llegó a grabar un movimiento lento de Mozart con su hermano, pero también siguió su propia carrera en EEUU.

Yaltah, cuyo nombre proviene del famoso lugar de veraneo de Crimea, nació en San Francisco, en el seno de una familia judía de origen ruso. De gira por todo el mundo bajo la tutela de Yehudi y de sus padres, las dos hermanas, al igual que su famoso hermano, nunca asistieron al colegio, pero todas aprendieron idiomas con tutores y adquirieron una cultura sofisticada, así como una gran formación musical. A la edad de 15 años Yaltah ya componía notables versos alejandrinos en francés sobre sus sueños y sus amores. Rudolf Serkin, quien impartió clases de piano a las dos hermanas cuando eran niñas, pensaba que Yaltah era la que tenía más talento para la música.

Sin embargo, su hermana tenía más carácter. Hepzibah logró convencer a sus padres para que les permitieran seguir una carrera musical y, por otro lado, mantenía una relación tan estrecha con Yehudi que hacía que Yaltah se sintiera una mera intermediaria. Cuando Yehudi y Hepzibah decidieron casarse con miembros de una prominente familia de empresarios australiana, Yaltah apenas tenía 16 años. Pese a su edad, obtuvo la autorización de sus padres para contraer matrimonio también con un abogado de San Luis. El matrimonio duró sólo un año y fue una experiencia extremadamente penosa para Yaltah; las recriminaciones de sus padres fueron tan graves que su madre se negó a verla durante sus últimos 30 años de vida.

Yaltah era una pianista sensible y expresiva. En Los Angeles se dedicó un tiempo a las corrientes musicales contemporáneas, a diferencia de su hermana, orientada a la música clásica más establecida. Tras su segundo matrimonio, con Benjamin Rolfe, tuvo más suerte con su tercera pareja, el dotado pianista estadounidense Joel Ryce, con quien se casó en 1960. Después, Ryce se dedicó a la psicoterapia y alcanzó gran prestigio en círculos jungianos.

La historia de los Menuhin alcanzó un punto culminante en 1966, año en que Yehudi dirigió a sus hermanas y a su propio hijo menor, Jeremy, que interpretaron en Londres el concierto para tres pianos de Mozart durante la celebración del 50 cumpleaños del famoso violinista y compositor. Poco después, Yaltah decidió abandonar los escenarios para apoyar a su marido en su nueva carrera profesional. En 1981 Hepzibah murió de un cáncer. Joel falleció en 1998, poco antes que Yehudi.

En su último año de vida Yaltah disfrutó de un tardío renacimiento musical, que incluyó una conmovedora interpretación de Mozart en el Queen Elizabeth Hall, acompañada por un joven violinista de la escuela de Yehudi Menuhin. En su último recital, celebrado sólo una semana antes de su muerte, ofreció un agotador programa de preludios de Chopin y Debussy.

Agraciada con una larga cabellera rubia, Yaltah cultivó un estilo de vestir muy particular, con tenues adornos dorados y cierto aire céltico. Su casa, así como sus cartas, iban a tono con su estilo, y al final de su vida se había dedicado a pintar preciosos iconos sobre planchas de madera.

En su autobiografía, Yehudi dice de su hermana que “llegó a cosechar la bondad y la gratitud que la vida le había negado”. Deja a sus dos hijos, fruto de su matrimonio con Benjamin Rolfe.

Jonathan Benthall

Friday, 15 June 2001

Pianist Yaltah Menuhin, younger sister of the late violinist Yehudi Menuhin, died June 9 at an undisclosed location, The Times of London reported. She was 79.

The youngest of three musically gifted Menuhin siblings, she grew up traveling the world as Yehudi established his early career.

However, like her sister, Hephzibah, she took up piano and studied with such teachers as Marcel Ciampi in Paris, Armando Silvestri in Rome and Carl Friedberg at Juilliard School in New York.

Performing regularly as both a soloist and a chamber player, she made a joint New York debut with violinist Israel Baker in 1951 and performed with violist Michael Mann, son of Thomas Mann. In the 1960’s she began a piano duo with her husband Joel Ryce. A previous marriage to Benjamin Rolfe ended in divorce.

At Yehudi Menuhin’s 50th-birthday concert at London’s Royal Festival Hal, he conducted a performance of the Mozart Concerto for Three Pianos, which she performed with her sister and his son, Jeremy Menuhin. Even after her retirement from the concert stage, she continued to perform, playing a program of Chopin and Debussy Preludes at the Orwell Park School in Ipswich, England, a few days before her death

Menuhin is survived by two sons.

Eileen Kowalski

Friday, 15 June 2001

The last survivor of a celebrated family musical trio, Yaltah Menuhin, the pianist, has died aged 79. The younger sister of the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, she often appeared with him and her elder sister, the pianist Hephzibah Menuhin. They gave concerts all over the world and were particularly associated in Britain …

… with the Bath Festival, of which Yehudi was artistic director in the 1960s.

But Yaltah was best known in America, where she and her husband, Joel Ryce, played either as four hands on one piano or at two pianos. She also played with the violist Michael Mann, son of the writer Thomas Mann. Her specialities were Chopin, Mozart and Mendelssohn.

Yaltah Menuhin was born in San Francisco. Her parents were Russian-Jewish emigres and they named their youngest after the Black Sea resort. She grew to dislike her tyrannical mother, who did little to encourage her musical talent.

Menuhin began to play the piano at three and studied in Paris with Marcel Ciampi and at Juilliard, New York, with Carl Friedberg. The Menuhin children were taught by governesses as they toured the world.

The three performed together on occasion, as at the Royal Festival Hall in 1966 at Yehudi’s 50th birthday concert. He conducted and the sisters, with Yehudi’s son, Jeremy, performed Mozart’s concerto for three pianos.

Yaltah Menuhin’s last recital was earlier this month at a school in Ipswich, England. She played Chopin and Debussy.

Yaltah Menuhin married first, at 18, William Stix. She married, secondly, Benjamin Rolfe. She married, thirdly, Joel Ryce. She had two sons.

Norman Lebrecht writes: Among the Menuhins, Yaltah, when making music, gave the impression that she did so for pleasure, which was seldom the case with her bread-winning brother and often unhappy sister, Hephzibah.

Yaltah was born a misfit, oppressed by her mother, Marutha, who wanted a second son. Where Yehudi worshipped his parents, Yaltah rebelled, clashing with Marutha over hairstyles and husbands.

She first married, at the age of 18, a much older businessman from St. Louis; her mother wore black to the wedding. The following year, in 1940, she married an American lawyer, with whom she had two sons while pursuing a concert career of which her husband grew morbidly jealous.

In 1959 she met Joel Ryce and settled with him in London in a West Hampstead flat that Yehudi had originally bought for his daughter, Zamira. The family connections were stiflingly close.

Yaltah grew her hair long and wild and dressed in colourful caftans, outraging her mother, who lived past 100, as well as Yehudi’s fastidious ballet-dancer wife, Diana.

Yaltah maintained contact with every member of the brittle family and became its focal bond. “It’s up to me to keep the family going”, she said after Yehudi’s death in 1999.

Yaltah brought to music a joie de vivre that was the more remarkable for the pressures she had endured, as well as for the name she bore.

Yehudi considered her performances uniquely revealing.

When confronted with a life as rich and varied as Yaltah’s, it is difficult to know where to begin.
It would be an understatement to say that the first years of Yaltah’s life had been difficult.

Her arrival was not trumpeted from the rooftops, and she was never celebrated as the new messiah or even as his accompanist, the role that befell Hephzibah. But Yehudi, and for that matter his brother-in-law Louis Kentner, both maintained that Yaltah may have been the most gifted of the three Menuhin children.
Yaltah’s lifelong passion was music, although there were long periods during which she did not play in public. Despite his gifts Joel, Yaltah’s adored husband and companion, found it, at a certain point, impossible to continue as a pianist, a destiny most musicians would find unimaginable. During the long and demanding period of his training as a Jungian analyst, Yaltah gave him her unmitigated support. Joel did not only cease to perform, he ceased to play the piano altogether. Apart from his dedication to his work, it was Yaltah’s courage and faith that enabled him to find a new life. For Joel, Yaltah carried the spirit of creative inspiration, and he welcomed her presence in all forms. He may even have considered his own creativity to be linked to hers.
I only got to know Yaltah better towards the end of Joel’s life. During the final weeks she decided to bring a mattress down to UCH, so as to be separated as little as possible from him. Not requiring any creature comforts, she simply occupied a small corner of Joel’s small room. One day she asked me if I would bring her a lamp so that she could read when Joel was asleep: it was the only request I remember her making. A few weeks later, as Joel lay sleeping, there seemed to be a change in the atmosphere. I looked at his face but only saw an absence: he had departed. Yaltah’s strength was immediately apparent: despite her devastation, she mourned quietly, not wishing even then to draw attention to herself. This was not a sign of suppression, but the product of a deep modesty.
At some stage in her life Yaltah developed a particular love for the colour blue. Perhaps blue was her colour from the very beginning. In any case she used it, along with gold, to paint her icons, Madonnas and collages. Shortly before he died, Joel bought Yaltah a cabinet in which to exhibit her collection of blue glass. She had picked up pieces over many years, and they became a link between the two of them. She once said of her Madonnas that they represented the good mother. I believe she would alter them and paint over them as her perception changed. When she went shopping last Friday, apart from the six bags of food intended for future guests, she also acquired some wood panels for her next projects.
Despite the enormous loss she endured when Joel died – and they had been together for 38 years – there was no denying the late flowering that subsequently took place. Yaltah rediscovered the desire to play for others, and undertook hugely challenging programmes of piano solo and chamber music. Next week she should have played Mozart’s Concerto K.488 in Hanover. She and I also decided to read Mozart and Beethoven quartets at the piano, some as four-hand transcriptions, and others as they appeared in the original form. When Yaltah announced only a few months ago that her next programme would probably consist of the Chopin Preludes and the Debussy Preludes Book 1, neither of which works she had performed in decades, I was flabbergasted. In addition to this, she continued to produce her collages, wrote poems and letters, and last but not least entertained a steady stream of visitors. It was impossible to visit Yaltah without being offered at least three courses, no matter what time of day it was, or whether or not one might have just had lunch. In my experience it was a lot more difficult to offer her food, although just two weeks ago we had a reunion with her nephews Kron and Michael and their wives, and on that occasion I was able to convince her to try a little of my cooking.
She also responded positively to my suggestion that she play at least a part of the programme she had prepared for Orwell Park. Yaltah then chose to play half the Chopin Preludes, very beautifully and devoid of frills, reminding us how Music can unite.
Soon after, Yaltah went to Orwell Park, where she was an honorary patron, and played her Chopin-Debussy programme. A week ago, on Friday, she rang up to say that it had gone very well, and that she had even thrown in, at assembly the next day, the Chopin Nocturne in C minor! It is quite possible that this colossal effort might have been too much for her heart. In any case it was what she wanted, even if we, her friends, would have wished her to live on.
A number of people who knew Yaltah have mentioned the matchless experience of walking down the road with her. No sooner had the first few yards slipped by, than some total, or almost total, stranger would approach Yaltah and address her. If in need, he or she would be invited home, and might even end up staying for a while, or until they had recovered from whatever was afflicting them. Recently Yaltah, on the way to Finchley Road, was hailed by a young woman from a fashion magazine, intent on transforming her into an icon. Apparently her individual attire was just the thing that would spark off a clothing revolution.
We have lost a unique soul, and also a being that connected us to a world of music, poetry and nature.

Fredag, 15. june 2001

Pianisten Yaltah Menuhin er død, 79 år gammel. Selvom hun – opkaldt efter Jalta på Krimhalvøen – stod i skyggen af sin verdensberømte bror, violinisten Yehudi Menuhin, og sin søster, pianisten Hephzibah – der gerne akkopagnerede broderen – skabte Yaltah sig alligevel en solokarriere som berømmet pianist, og hun optrådte verden over med sit følsomme spil.

De musikalske søskende var børn af jødisk-russiske forældre bosiddende i USA, og Yaltah blev født i San Francisco i 1921. På trods af, at deres forældre ikke ønskede, at også pigerne skulle have lov at forfølge musikalske karrierer, lykkedes det både Hephzibah og Yaltah at bryde fri og følge deres egne drømme.

I modsætning til sin søster, der holdt sig til mainstream klassisk musik, blev Yaltah stadigt mere interesseret i moderne og samtidig musik, og i ’60 blev hun gift med den talentfulde pianist Joel Ryce.

De tre Menuhin-søskende satte i mange år deres præg på den klassiske musikverden, og et højdepunkt i deres karrierer var, da Yehudi i ’66 – på sin 50 års fødselsdag – dirigerede sine søstre og sin ældste søn i en opførsel af Mozarts koncert for tre klaverer.

Yaltahs mand foretog i 60’erne et karriereskift og blev psykoterapeut, og fra slutningen af årtiet helligede Yaltah sig sin mand og hans karriere.

Tuesday, 12 June 2001

Pianist Yaltah Menuhin, last of three famous siblings whose musical talents brought them fame at an early age, has died at age 79. Menuhin died Sunday at her London home, her family said. No cause of death was given. Yaltah, the youngest, and her sister Hepzibah, also a pianist, did not …

… achieve the international renown of their brother, the violinist Yehudi Menuhin. But they often appeared with him in concerts around the world, including the Bath Festival in Britain, where Yehudi was artistic director in the 1960s.

Yaltah Menuhin was born Oct. 7, 1921, in San Francisco, to Russian-Jewish parents. Like her siblings, she began studying music as a child, and moved about the world performing. Her brother was astonishing audiences with his virtuosity by the age of 7.

Yaltah Menuhin and her husband, pianist Joel Ryce, often performed together as a duo in the United  States, and she also performed with violist Michael Mann.

In an obituary in The Daily Telegraph, friend Norman Lebrecht wrote that when she played, “she gave the impression that she did so for pleasure.″ Lebrecht said Yaltah was the rebellious one in the family, and had a strained relationship with her mother, but that she remained close to her siblings. “She brought to music a joie de vivre that was the more remarkable for the pressures that she had endured, as well as for the name she bore,″ Lebrecht said. “Yehudi considered her performances uniquely revealing.″

Yaltah Menuhin was married briefly as a teen-ager, then secondly to Benjamin Rolfe, with whom she had two sons. They divorced, and she married Ryce in 1960. Her sister died in 1981 and Lord Menuhin died in 1999.

Yaltah Menuhin is survived by her sons. No funeral plans were immediately announced.

A memorial service to celebrate Yaltah’s life was held at the United Reform Church in Highgate, London on 14 October 2001, with performances by violinists Nicola Benedetti and Riki Gerardy and pianists Jeremy Menuhin, Eldad Neumark and Alison Rhind.