“Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.”

These are the words of Lord Menuhin, a man who was more than a genius musician. A great humanist, thinker who believed in peace and harmony in the world, he had an influence far beyond the world of classical music. A man of great discipline and strong principles of life, he was convinced that the humanist ideal of Europe found its best expression in the works of the great composers of classical music and he put all his efforts into creating an unbroken link between creators, masters and performers. 

This is why he created in 1977, together with the great violinist, musician and pedagogue Alberto Lysy, the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland, which was his last place of residence in a country whose he admired values so much. 

Following the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium, of which he was a jury member in 1955, Yehudi Menuhin obtained a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the Argentinian Alberto Lysy, who had won a prize. Lysy then had only modest resources and Menuhin made him his only personal student. Both made numerous tours of Europe and later founded the International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland together.

In memoriam

“Yehudi, a heart, a conscience for the whole world, the eternal child-philosopher, human nobility, royal kindness and the eagle eye on all imperfections, the power of utopia in action, the design harmonies of the universe, the cult of love, the accent of duty always at the forefront of instinct, the meaning of the words that carry, the complicity of the prophets of which he is perhaps the last in this century entirely engaged in the battle of evil and of that Good that sang by his hands, and the happy intuition of everything that consolidates justice, of that which animates generosity – he gave all his life until the last day, for his suffering wife, for the music that demanded him day after day, for his too many friends, for this Invisible of which he was molded and who keeps him alive in our hearts, the man who gave humanity the image of his impossible dignity, his invincible movement towards tenderness and kindness, his fervent quest for order happier, under the infinite Chaconne rainbow …

March 12, 1999 »
(Jean-Jacques Lafaye, Conversations pour un monde meilleur, Paris, Alban Éditions, 2009, p. 14)

Yehudi Menuhin, Notes on the world (London 1997)

“I consider that when an architecture is designed only for profit, consists only of a quantity, in order to build as many offices and housing as possible for the least available space – and obviously it costs less if it’s prefabricated, all that’s left is to mechanically pile up the elements on top of each other, next to each other in cubes -, it really depresses, it’s an offense to life, to creativity . Multiplication without diversity is a form of suicide, I believe it can be said. In the multiplication that nature operates, each man, woman and child is different, each snowflake too: so here diversity protects, makes multiplication possible, not only of what is in common, but above all the possibilities of diversity, while technical multiplication nowadays has become evil. “(Op.cit. P. 25)
“I always say that whenever we prevent the development of its potential, the development of a talent, whatever it is – juggling or music or meeting, painting of course, but art in any case, the art of life, the art of living, the art of simply meeting – each time this is compressed the outcome is always a form of violence… ”(Ibid. P. 27)
 “It all comes down to this first need to meet the stranger, when you don’t know him, with sympathy and respect. I find a key there to try to understand the other, to put him at ease so that he can answer, otherwise it is the authority and the rule that we learn, and not the Other. “(Ibid. P. 28)
“The question is no longer that of the nation and its own territory, but that of cultures. Nations protect borders, but cultures protect the tree in the garden, they prepare seeds that go with the wind and fly everywhere, know no barrier: germs, microbes or diseases, everything spreads. The nation and the sovereign state defend borders, walls in short, while the garden on the contrary exceeds them, in two opposite directions. States still consider themselves sovereign even though their sovereignty has been very much compromised, and gardens are unable to breathe because they still have to learn to breathe cultures from elsewhere. “(Ibid. P. 29)
“So I believe that we are simultaneously moving towards a larger unit on one side, and towards the strengthening of smaller units on the other. It’s the only way. I told my Swiss friends that we should not have said No to Europe, but said “Not yet”, because Switzerland over the course of a millennium has managed to gain a certain balance between autonomous culture – the canton – and the confederation, and this balance is exactly what is needed in Europe, on a new scale. This is the aim of my last project, piloted by my small Foundation in Brussels (International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation), which consists in the progressive creation of a “Assembly of cultures” on a European scale, which will bring together representatives of identities cultural and regional beyond the nations, for example the Gypsies, the Basques, the Corsicans and all the others, to allow to establish other levels of dialogues and exchanges. This project is particularly close to my heart. It is in a way the result of an evolution which starts from the violin, from the profession of violinist and musician, to give a voice to what does not yet have a voice, whether it is an instrument, a partition or a culture. It could also be a school beyond Europe. “(Ibid. P.30-31)

Principles and Aims of the Academy

Foundation Act October 3rd 1977

Basic principles

The International Menuhin Music Academy was established as a foundation with the purpose of providing further training for talented musicians who intend to take up carreers as soloists or in chamber music.
Due to its international nature the Academy recrute students from all over the world.
The choice of students should, among other things, help to ensure an optimum formation of the Camerata (originally Camerata Lysy, currently « the Soloists of the Menuhin Academy »).
In contrast to a conservatory, the Menuhin Academy is a performance academy. Students are required to give concerts within the frameworkof the Camerata. The Menuhin Academy does not demand tuition fees. Students of moderate means may apply for an annual grant. The Menuhin Academy is conceived not as an alternative but as a complement to the activities of already existing institutions. Moreover, the Menuhin Academy promotes the cultural presence of Switzerland abroad and endeavours to make its contribution to Swiss and Bernese musical life. The Menuhin Academy informs the public of its activities by means of specific publications.

Financial aims

The Menuhin Academy is run on the principles of business management. Its concern is to preserve the assets of the Foundation. The financial result should allow for the accumulation of necessary reserves for risks after all expenses have been covered.

The financing of the Menuhin Academy’s expenses is set up as follows :
– Bequests from corporation and individuals
– Bequests in the form of annual subsidies from cantons and the Confederation
– Bequests from supporters’associations
– Contributions from the Camerata.

In order to procure a basis for continuity in attaining its aims, the Menuhin Academy draws up a five-year plan. The periodical review of this plan serves as a basis for the annual budget and setting of targets. The Board of the Foundation must adopt its annual budget by the end of April.

The Menuhin Academy undertakes to submit detailed acciunts annually to its fiancial backers.

Personnel policy

The fulfilment of the aims laid down for the Menuhin Academy in the deed of Foundation makes great demands on the members of the Board of the Foundation, the professors, collaborators and students.

The Menuhin Academy is anxious to create a positive climate for professors and students and to facilitate their integration into life in Switzerland.

The present principles and aims of the Academy, administrative regulations and, above all, direct discussions are the means for maintaining the development of a harmonious relationship between students, professors and the Board of the Foundation.

The functions of the Board of the Foundation, the professors and other collaborators are set down in job description.

The rights and duties of the students are established in writing on admittance to the Academy. The rights and duties of the professors are stipulated by contract.

The Menuhin Academy demands of all its participants that they respect the personality of the individual.

Putting into effect

The aims and principles of the Menuhin Academy were approved on 10th November 1983 by the Board of the Foundation and put immediately into effect.

The Board of the Foundation International Menuhin Music Academy

The President :

Edwin Oehrli

The Vice-president :

Käti Jaberg