â€œA Concert Hall on our . . . . land would indeed be an incredibly useful and magnificent resource which we could put to daily use.â€
Yehudi Menuhin (1916 â€“ 1999) is widely considered to have been the greatest violinist of the 20th Century. An American-born Jew, whose performing career was mostly in Britain, he founded the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad (1957), The Yehudi Menuhin School in Stoke dâ€™Abernon (1962) and the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Violinists (1983). He saw music as a way of making peace â€“ becoming the first Jewish musician to perform with the Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin after the Second World War. Menuhin was given an honorary knighthood in 1966, the Order of Merit in 1985, and was made a life peer in 1993 with the title Lord Menuhin of Stoke dâ€™Abernon. Lord Menuhinâ€™s coat of arms can be seen in the Menuhin Hall Foyer.
Yehudi, was passionate in his devotion to the needs of young musicians and established his School to provide an environment in which gifted children from around the world could develop their talents to the highest level within a nurturing, stimulating and creative academic environment.
The School was founded in 1962 and moved to its present site in Surrey in 1964, and early pupils and their supporters all remember with great fondness the many performances given in Slyfield Barn which is situated just across the road from the main site. The Barn had its own very special charm and for over 40 years it provided the Schoolâ€™s pupils with an atmospheric and intimate venue in which to develop their performance technique. It did however have its limitations and, after decades travelling the globe and performing in the worldâ€™s greatest concert halls, Menuhin recognised how great the benefit would be to the pupils if they had unlimited access to their own purpose-built performing space.
Yehudi died before he could see this ambition realised but, thanks to the vigorous fundraising campaign run by the School after his death in 1999, on 7th January 2006 the 300-seater Menuhin Hall was officially opened as a lasting memorial to our visionary Founder.
The Hall immediately gained recognition with awards from RIBA as well as a Civic Trust Commendation and BCI Small Building Project Award, celebrating the success of the architects and engineers in delivering a building which not only fulfilled the aim of creating a technically superb acoustic, but also of ensuring total isolation from the incessant roar of M25 traffic hurtling past the Schoolâ€™s grounds at not much more than a stoneâ€™s throw away. All those who have performed, spoken, listened or recorded in the auditorium over the years, can testify to whole-hearted success on both counts!
Today, The Menuhin Hall provides our pupils with the outstanding professional resource of which Yehudi dreamed, but beyond that, it also plays a wider role within the local arts community, as a venue for performances by choirs, orchestras and ensembles from across the region, for lectures, conferences and courses of all kinds, and for appearances by artists of international renown such as Nicola Benedetti, Tasmin Little, Steven Isserlis, Stephen Hough, Alina Ibragimova, Nikolai Demidenko and Angela Hewitt to name just a few.
Yehudi himself said â€œ. . . I believe with all my heart that our school is of positive value, a real asset to our threatened society and to people . . . all over the worldâ€, and here at The Menuhin Hall, we are proud to contribute to musical development of the Schoolâ€™s gifted young pupils and to the thriving local arts scene of which we are a part.