The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Heard enough about Prince? Read about violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Plus, a FREE voice recital commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare is at noon on Friday | April 28, 2016

ALERT: This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale, held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Meeting House of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, located at 900 University Bay Drive, features tenor Adam Shelton and pianist Vincent Fuh in the program “Assassinating Shakespeare.” The concert features music by Gerald Finzi, Roger Quilter, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Schubert and Dominick Argento.

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s a week later but news about the premature death at 57 on April 21 of the influential superstar pop rocker Prince continues to preoccupy the media.

To flood the media, really.

Prince with guitar

The Ear doesn’t want to take away from Prince and his substantial artistic achievements. Nor does The Ear mean to belittle Prince’s premature death, which is sad and unfortunate but hardly unusual in the world of pop music — and not really tragic in the larger scheme of things, given how the world is filled today with terrorism and refugees.

But he does think maybe a little perspective about this celebrity or star is required.

Does anyone else share The Ear’s impatience with such saturation coverage and think that the media have gone overboard? There have been so many stories, so much repetition, such meaningless follow-up and continuing coverage that it almost belittles Prince’s death with endless trivialities and predictable banalities.

So take a break.

Here is a story – from the Deceptive Cadence blog for NPR or National Public Radio — about this past weekend’s 100th anniversary of the April 22, 1916 birth of the famed British violinist, teacher and polymath Sir Yehudi Menuhin (below top as a child, from the Underwood Archives, and below bottom as an older man in a photo by Erich Auerbach for Getty Images).

yehudi menuhin young underwood archives

Yehudi Menuhin Erich Auerbach Getty Images

It is filled with inspiring details that command your respect for this great artist and humanitarian, who was international in his interests and many of whose accomplishments The Ear didn’t know. You can hear him playing Bach in the YouTube video at the t bottom.

It is written by Tom Huizenga and features a lot of commentary and recollection by the gifted violinist Daniel Hope (below), who played music of European Jewish composers exiled in Hollywood during World War II by Hitler and the Nazis coming to power, with the Madison Symphony Orchestra two seasons ago.

Daniel Hope playing

Here is a link:


  1. I understand how you feel. Both of them are true musicians, but walking in very different paths, and thus the fame and coverage they receive differ. Regardless of how much attention is given to Prince, Menuhin is still Menuhin and will always be remembered as an important figure in classical music.


    Comment by Ken Lim — May 10, 2016 @ 5:49 pm

  2. Thanks for expressing a sentiment that I have experienced. No slight on Prince, but there are many other important artists who are overlooked & neglected.


    Comment by Barbara Furstenberg — April 28, 2016 @ 6:22 pm

  3. Hi, Jake! Hmmm… a most interesting juxtaposition of two highly influential musicians. Firstly, I think it’s appalling that we have heard NOTHING about the 100th anniversary of Menuhin’s birth, or any musical events related to it — to me, he was one of the towering figures in 20th Century Classical music, to be reckoned alongside, say, Leonard Bernstein or Van Cliburn in recognition and influence. And, as the article indicates, he used his “clout” to serve all sorts of non-musical worthy causes throughout his lifetime.

    Regarding Prince? Well, it was refreshing to read, amidst the endless media hagiography, how many genuinely good things he did for the Black community, both in financial and in social arenas. I couldn’t help contrasting his apparent legacy with that of Michael Jackson’s, which at best is, uh, besmirched beyond repair. In that sense, then, I actually learned something more about Prince, and leave with a more positive assessment of his influence.


    Comment by Tim Adrianson — April 28, 2016 @ 9:08 am

  4. I don’t agree with your sentiments concerning Prince. Perhaps you should rethink what it is to be a musician and human.


    Comment by Richard Day — April 28, 2016 @ 6:59 am

  5. Agree completely about media saturation over Prince, who was a has been. It’s the old “star” sydrome: star sell, maybe?


    Comment by fflambeau — April 28, 2016 @ 5:03 am

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