The Uncommon Friendship between Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather
This is an extraordinary story of the friendship between Willa Cather and the author’s mother, piano prodigy Yaltah Menuhin (1920-2001), sister of violinist Yehudi Menuhin. There is currently a resurgence of interest in the remarkable American author Willa Cather (1873-1947), many of whose novels explored women and creativity. This is a personal, yet universal, book which explores Cather’s mentoring of the young pianist. It illuminates the lives and works of two important women artists and raises provocative questions about the effects of social and family constraints on the lives of brilliant women. Against the tumultuous backdrop of America and Europe in the early and mid-20th century, Rolfe presents an engrossing chronicle of his mother’s struggle as a budding musician, her tragic relationship with her parents, and the solace she found when Cather became her mentor. The mutually inspiring friendship, which endured for decades, inspired some the most memorable heroines in Cather’s novels, notably Lucy Gayheart.
“Rolfe opens up his family’s history to examine the creative symbiosis in the cross-generational friendship between Cather and Yaltah” — Weekly Variety, Nov. 1, 2004