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2012-11-03 06:50:35 (UTC)


After nearly 50 years in classrooms as a teacher and a student, 1949 to 1999, I decided to stop teaching FT in the first week of April 1999. In those 50 years I’d been unemployed for 18 months, sick and unable to work for another 12 months, and had 3 years doing non-teaching jobs.

The famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin(1916-1999) died on 12 March 1999, three weeks before I taught my last class as a FT teacher. The famous hockey player Wayne Gretsky also retired in that first week of April, but this prose-poem is concerned with the violinist and not the hockey player.

I first came across Menuhin’s autobiography on 17 October 2012, some 36 years after it was first published. That edition was updated and reissued in 1996 and made into a paperback in 2001. It was that paperback edition which I began to read today in the 3rd month of my 69th year.

Menuhin had, so it is written in the foreword, “driven parents” and a “demanding mother.” Yehudi writes about his voice and he says “once you have it…..everything else comes.” I find this to be true of writing, at least for me, although I do not think my voice is “utterly distinctive,”1 as was his. –Ron Price with thanks to 1Christopher Hope, Foreword to the Pimlico Edition, Unfinished Journey, London, 2001, p. xiv.

Music made Yehudi Menuhin
the man that he became…..It
was his way of making sense of
the world, making peace with it.1

I could say very much the same
thing about my writing…It also
seems that he was one of those
who had to have things now:
immediate gratification types,
full of contradictions & many
paradoxes you sometimes find
in people like myself. He was,
like me: an artist, activist and
dreamer with a quixotic streak,
had trouble following advice &
relished the way of his mind. I
find this to be the case, at least
most of the time in my 70 years.

My medication has taken the drive,
the frantic desire to go faster out of
me in this 21st century.....Your 470
page autobiography left many of your
friends out of its cold print, both the
cherished and uncherished, but your
wife came sharply into focus before
I’d even begun to read the 500 pages.2

You have made of your music a total
expression and embodiment of being,3
and you told us when you neared 60,
as I did in my own memoiristic work.4

You put away your violin transferring
your energies to conducting…as I put
away teaching to write----transferring
my enthusiasm from spoken words to
written ones. Perhaps I spread myself
too thin across too many disciplines.

Now, though, like you, I have given
as much as I can away to quietness &
pleasure in one of those odysseys that
continue, I hope, for the rest of my life
with writing as a transforming art that
teaches, liberates, shapes my instincts
and my yearnings in indefinable ways.5

1 Hope, op. cit., p. xv.
2 He wrote in his ‘acknowledgements’, p. xx, that his wife Diana “retained a beauty that revealed her inner experience of pain which brought only a deepened expressiveness to her appearance and presence.” I found this an apt way of expressing the beauty of my own wife, Chris.
3 So wrote Menuhin’s friend George Steiner in his preface.
4 Both Menuhin and I published the first edition of our autobiography about the age of 60. He revised his first edition at the age of 80; I’ve continued to edit my first edition since the age of 60.
5 Michael Binyon, a friend of Menuhin’s, writes in his ‘afterword’ that Menuhin saw music as “the transforming art that…..shaped the noblest instincts and the yearnings of all people….”

Ron Price 17 October 2012