Support to culture in Africa, Latin America and Asia is not the preserve of governments. Large private funds with their own cultural policy operate worldwide. Their strategies are less coloured by political considerations and stem from socially responsible entrepreneurship or philanthropic ideals. Part seven.

Yehudi Menuhin Foundation

December 2007 -

"Each human being has the eternal duty of transforming what is hard and brutal into a subtle and tender offering, what is crude into refinement, what is ugly into beauty, ignorance into knowledge, confrontation into collaboration." These words of the world-famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin summarize the motive of the philanthropical foundation which he created in Brussels in 1991. The International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation (IYMF), which now has thirteen national departments in Europe, Brazil and Israel, wants to give "a voice to the voiceless" with its cultural programmes.

Yehudi Menuhin performed at the age of seven with the San Francisco Symphony in the country where he was born, the United States, to Jewish Russian parents. A striking detail from his career is the fact that Menuhin was the first Jewish musician to perform in Germany after the war: in 1947 he gave a reconciliation concert together with conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, who had worked for the Nazis. Other milestones were the establishment of the Yehudi Menuhin School to teach music to children and a music conservatory in Switzerland. He was awarded citizenship in both of these countries. Menuhin died in Berlin in 1999.

The programmes of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation primarily focus on Europe. The Assembly of Cultures of Europe (ACE), for example, established in 1997, is intended as a platform for cultural minorities such as the Roma and Armenians. Since 1994, the MUS-E programme has organised art education and creative workshops for children in 350 elementary schools and also provides meeting opportunities in Art Laboratories.

The IYMF programme that stretches beyond Europe's borders consists of concerts featuring combinations of established and beginning musicians from various countries. During his first visit to India in 1952, Menuhin became infatuated with Indian music, especially that of Ravi Shankar. His close ties with India – Menuhin was awarded the Nehru Peace Prize by the Indian government in 1960, for example – were reflected in various ways, including a series of concerts entitled From the Sitar to the Guitar in 1995. This was followed in 1997 by Voices of Peace, with female musicians including Miriam Makeba, Luzmila Carpio and Esperanza Fernandez.