With all of my dissertation research, I spend quite a bit of time reading about Yehudi Menuhin's love for Indian culture, yoga, music, and food. It is almost unfortunate that my dissertation focuses only on Menuhin's relationship with yoga and, specifically B.K.S. Iyengar because he met and collaborated with some amazing, and very influential people besides the famous yogi. I guess I'll just have to geek out about all the other stuff I'm not 'dissertating' about on my blog.
Did you know that, contrary to popular belief, it was NOT the Beatles who discovered Ravi Shankar but Yehudi Menuhin?! I'm telling you, this violinist was way ahead of his time: a true Indigo Child.
In his autobiography Unfinished Journey, Menuhin discusses Indian Music as follows:
"Despite my predisposition in India's favor, I have to acknowledge that Indian music took me by surprise. I knew neither its nature nor its richness, but here, if anywhere, I found vindication of my conviction that India was the original source...Melodically and rhythmically Indian music long ago achieved a complex sophistication which only in the twentieth century, with the work of Bartók and Stravinsky, has Western music begun to adumbrate." (257)
Menuhin goes on to explain the genius of Shankar as "He does not interpret; he is." (260) - Wow! What a compliment!
Here is a little intro to traditional Indian music from Menuhin and Shankar filmed in the 1960s:
Menuhin brought Shankar and his band to the Bath Music Festival in June 1966, 10 years before the Beatles stumbled upon ragas, sitars, and Indian traditions. He was absolutely enthralled with the traditional Indian music. After a successful performance together at the music festival, they released an album together called 'West Meets East' in 1967. The album was No.1 on Billboard's Best-Selling Classical LPs for 18 weeks! And, truth be told, it is pretty incredible!
Recently, free spirited intensely exciting violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja collaborated with Ravi's daughter Anoushka Shankar to recreate the experience in the 21st century.
I hope you enjoy!