When Yehudi Menuhin played the Embassy Cinema, Pilton

2016 marks the centenary of the birth of one of the 20th century’s greatest violinists: Yehudi Menuhin.

Born 22 April 1916 in New York City, Menuhin was a child prodigy who quickly established an international reputation.

But among his lesser known performances was an appearance at the Embassy Cinema, Pilton in 1958.

Menuhin was in Edinburgh to perform works by Mendelsohn and Beethoven at the Usher Hall as part of that year’s Festival.

But the great violinist was keen “to get acquainted with people who really belong to Edinburgh and have no opportunity to get to concerts” so he booked the Embassy Cinema for a concert along with colleagues Louis Kentner and Gaspar Cassado.

Charging an entrance fee of just a shilling the trio were just hoping to recoup their costs, but as they reached Pilton they found streets lined with crowds (library members can see a photo of these crowds on the Scran web site).

The concert, played to a packed audience. received warm and responsive applause. As one Piltonian matron called out to Menuhin as he was leaving “You’ll aye be welcome here”

The concert’s success led to other artists following suit with the Embassy becoming a venue for many other performances over the next decade.

Among his many awards, Menuhin gained the Freedom of the City in Edinburgh in 1965.

His legacy continues through his International Music School, the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, and charity Live Music Now.

Find out more about Yehudi Menuhin in the Music Library, listen to his recordings on Naxos Music Library and browse our selection of books and recordings on and by Menuhin and some of his famous pupils.

One thought on “When Yehudi Menuhin played the Embassy Cinema, Pilton

  1. When Yehudi Menuhin first came to play at the Festival, he lodged in Arden Street. He left his radio, a Bush DC90, behind. Many years later his landlady gave it to a friend of mine- a few weeks ago she gave it to me. I have it at home- it works (and looks) as well as it did in 1948 although most of the stations listed on it (Motala, Droitwich, Kaunas, etc) have ceased to exist or aren’t transmitting- but surprisingly good sound on Radio 3 and 4!

    Liked by 1 person

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