The British violinist speaks about Yehudi Menuhin, the importance of a good violin and meeting her hero - the late Ida Haendel


Tasmin Little

The following article was published as part of a larger feature on Tasmin Little in The Strad’s December 2016 issue. The digital magazine and print edition are on sale.

British violinist Tasmin Little has many fond and formative memories of Yehudi Menuhin from her time studying at the Menuhin School, including a masterclass where they were working on the Bach Chaconne:

'At one point he took my violin and played a great chunk of the first section. I was astonished at the sound he made. There was such concentration and intensity; he was locked into the music and I had the very powerful experience of standing next to somebody whose entire body was being used to create this incredibly powerful music. One very important thing I learned that day is that it's the player who makes the sound. A very fine violin will make a difference to your playing, without question, but a really great player can make any instrument sound reasonable.'

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Alongside Menuhin and Fenyves, another of Little's heroes is Ida Haendel. 'She has been a major influence since I was eight - some of her recordings are my absolute favourites, the Britten and Sibelius concertos in particular. Also I admire her because she was a very strong woman at a time when there were comparatively few great women soloists. I love the strength and passion in her playing and find it extremely inspiring. I only met her in person when I was 22, but it was lovely to meet her at last. And she's tiny - even smaller than I am and I'm 5ft 2in!'

Photo: Melanie Winning