: Uncategorized

Pietrasanta in Concerto 2020

Art education against the coronavirus outbreak

In 1993, Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) together with Werner Schmitt, director of the Bern Conservatory, and Marianne Poncelet  launched the MUS-E programme, anchoring active art experiences in education and promoting intercultural dialogue,.

In alignment with The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child , MUS-E gives priority to investment in one of the basic building blocks of society:  school education. Art and school education mutually enrich one another while having a strong impact on social dynamics. MUS-E helps schools to open up to the outside world: the neighbourhood, the town, cultural and social life and to involve families in their children’s development. MUS-E focuses on mutual respect and it is intended for all children.

Up to now, the programme has targeted children living in districts where there are significant risks of social exclusion and where schools have to cope with multiculturalism and acute societal problems and high social vulnerability. Participating schools are open to transcultural dialogue and can belong to all types of educational networks, independent of pedagogical approach. MUS-E creates and provides a platform for artists, enabling them to explore more opportunities to fulfil their role in society.

MUS-E is now active in 12 countries in Belgium, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany, Cyprus, Israel and Brazil and the MUS-E associations are members of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation.

While the challenges of creating a more cohesive society are still present  Covid19 has add unprecedented difficulties to our work.. Although challenging, MUS-E together with their artists and teachers have proven to be inventive to promote and develop new teaching initiatives and keep on providing access to education through the arts. 

Here are some insights from the fields and result of open questionnaires sent to each MUS-E associations. 

Thanks to all the organizations for their contributions. Now more then ever we need to start thinking as a community of practitioners to face up to the challenges .



This work is the result of an open questionnaire sent to each of the 13 associations of Mus-e Italia network. The questionnaire was turned from each local location to various people involved in the Mus-e workshops, from artists to pupils, from teachers to school headmasters, and systemized by each local and artistic/educational coordinator. This was done in order to have a choral and polyphonic consideration on the unique and unstable period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To keep a broad look at the response dynamics of the people involved in the Mus-e project, and make it more effectively in a concise report, Mus-e Italia relied on the work of an external professional figure: this is how I was entrusted with the task of doing a socio-anthropological analysis of the many pages derived from the questionnaire questions to write an article to share with International Mus-e network. I used ethnographic survey techniques to account for the complexity of opinions of children, artists, teachers and coordinators: the text I drew from it comes from the convergence of opinions that focus on the implementation of technological instruments, digital know-how, in the world of teaching and consequently of Mus-e, to continue the educational, artistic and inclusion mission started by Yehudi Menuhin in a world that can suddenly change. The solutions to continue and improve the Mus-e project are there, provided that we are careful to collect and synergy the ideas and needs of those who adhere to it, and can be implemented effectively, telling the fundamental usefulness to potential investors.


The impact of the health emergency on schools and the education system in Italy

The school has been an area that has been greatly affected by the health emergency caused by this wave of SARS-CoV-2. In Italy It’s been one of the first sectors to be physically closed and one of the last that will open. A paradox has been opened up about the school and its educational function: while it is undeniable that it is one of the systems at the base of the whole society, on the other, impacting with this pandemic, it has revealed all its shortcomings due to low investment.


As Mus-e Italia we are a reality present in the school system in twelve cities (plus a pilot project in Lecce) from north to south, and, as a project that combines institutional training with education of various artistic activities, we involve in our work, in addition to the students and pupils, also the teachers of their classes and the school directors. As Mus-e we have an internal and an external look at the school so we have a position that can be privileged in detecting the post-pandemic condition, the reactions to this long and sudden school closure, and therefore the problems of the educational system and the multiple potentials that can be put in place in the period of reform and school reformulation that now opens. For these reasons, we created and circulated a questionnaire (open-ended) on school quarantine and the future of pupils, and we had colorful answers resulting from the thoughts and experiences of the whole set of people involved in the Mus-e projects, from the gaze of girls and children, to the opinions of teachers and school leaders, and from the reflections of the artists, to the observations of the coordinators of the individual Mus-e offices in Italy.


The most obvious highlight of the use of Distance Learning (DL) is an accessibility problem: since we could no longer go to school, and having to attend lessons on digital platforms, social/economic inequality among pupils has been accentuated. That is, in terms of the availability of their families, pupils need a dedicated space, a computer or tablet and a sufficiently fast connection to follow a lesson remotely. So the effect unfortunately is that the school system of children, made to be made available and accessible to all, in the sudden transformation of lessons in DL has increased the distances between less fortunate and luckier girls/boys. The cause of this was first and foremost a lack of investment in technological instruments: there were no funds to equip the pupils, who lacked it, a device and a fast connection. In addition, on the merits of the relationship between school and new technologies, DL has also highlighted how digital skills on the part of the teaching staff are often lacking, as well as paths to mature computer knowledge for pupils. If the school is to be a place to develop and implement a renaissance, without obviously neglecting the fundamental dimension of vis-à-vis learning and physical contact between pupils, there is a need to find more economic investment in order not to be more unprepared for DL. Therefore, in the opinions we have identified, there is a structural dysfunction in the school system, where the solutions for an appropriate and fair functioning are new economic revenues and a wise model of investment.


Issues of artists and the cultural sector during the pandemic


We can assert it, without fear of being denied, that there were systemic problems, even before quarantine, in the cultural sector and in the work of artists: since the artists who work with Mus-e Italia are about two hundred and expressed a certain discomfort with respect to their work very


often anomalous, poorly structured, occasional and precarious; a job position found therefore at all levels, from macro to micro.


During the full pandemic emergency, these problems in the cultural sector were exacerbated because, first of all, every show and artistic event was deleted and, moreover, the world of artistic work remained rather “invisible” in government discussions and of the various technical and scientific committees. Therefore, counting that even at the moment the reopening of the quaternary sector of the economy (the cultural and creative economy) struggles to restart, the suffering of those who do it by trade is acute, having seen the possibilities of work collapsed totally. This, as Mus-e’s work is based on artists engaging in the world of training, can harm us because some of them, if the situation did not improve in Italy and were at the same time more advantageous elsewhere, could move abroad. It is also for this reason that the rethinking of the organizational and communicative modes of artistic and creative work, which has already been inevitably implemented in Mus-e (as in theatres, art galleries, cinemas, etc.), must be conveyed in the future, through a flourishing exchange of ideas and opinions, in a process that leads to continue what were the missions of their pre-emergence work in the new and unstable current horizon.


At the beginning of quarantine, the artists were forced to change their work from a concept based on physical contact to one based on the encounter through video recording or video conferencing platform. This process of transformation and, we might say, translation was neither neutral nor immediate. Entering into the merits of educational-creative work, the problem addressed concerns the communication between the artist and the students: the absence of human contact that identifies “the encounter” as an educational path, where through the decoding and reformulation of reality you create new codes and behaviors, imagine signs, build symbols, acquire functional skills, and therefore learn to “feel good Together”. If it has already been difficult to transpose these objectives into a video-screening, primarily because of the structural problems of the education system we talked about above, all the more so an online art laboratory is going through complex problems, as they involve activities that would require the presence, the body, the space, the voice and the contact with the other: in fact, not all artistic disciplines lend themselves equally to being translated online.


How the Mus-e associations in Italy have dealt with this unprecedented and sudden reality


All these issues, however, did not stop the work of Mus-e artists, who, citing the testimony of a little girl over all, “participated in video-surveys trying to lighten the climate with music and art”. More specifically, the individual Mus-e offices remained in contact with the school principals and teachers and, at first, the artistic-training activity remotely adapted by sending the students proposals to continue with an active participation: these proposals ranged from musical ones, to pictorial, acting, and more; there were different approaches depending on the objectives and the vision that was proposed for the activity; switching to the video there was also a range of aesthetic variations, depending on whether the direction, more mobile or fixed-room, was more or less fundamental to the script. Later, with the help of local coordinators, when and where it was possible, the artists participated live in the lessons by video call. In general, Mus-e’s online activities for classes found in the communicative urgency a key to artistic expression, which looked at the possibilities of remote encounter as social closeness in the moment of inevitable physical


distance. That is, although the approach to the pupils had become necessarily unrelated to the physical presence and mediated by a screen, we continued to carry out our work of cultural training and social inclusion related to the promotion of the expression of the arts, trying to (using the expressions of a pupil after a video school) “to arrive in the hearts of children, because the hearts of children are like music boxes that must be loaded live with the touch of a hand”.


In order to “pop on camera” in the future, in a probable continuation of distance learning, and to train the educational-artistic richness of the pupils, the place of being able to get to all the boys and girls, we must now trace the solutions that make possible a space more suitable for the relationship at a distance, in order to obtain a denser online contact: to be able to take advantage of a video conferencing platform in which to share the screen of their device live and messages; set up a suitable digital training system for Mus-e operators focused on the multiple possibilities of artistic expression remotely.


Directions to be taken in the immediate future


If we are convinced that this health and social emergency is also a great opportunity to restructure the cultural and educational system, implementing its character as an inexhaustible resource to build more sustainable and supportive futures, and if we think that the expression of the arts also filtered by a computer demonstrates its extraordinary cohesive and cathartic strength, it is because we know for sure that with the support of economic investments , on computer instrumentation and technological-digital training, a school can be built in solidarity and just, rich in positive sociality and expressive and tolerant dynamics, which, in this way, leads to a more convivial society, where conflicts are resolved with peaceful confrontations and is therefore greater the psycho-physical well-being of people.


This is because the priority of the Mus-e project remains, even in a form of Distance Learning, to emancipate children and young people towards an artistic reading of the real, positioning itself as a facilitator for each individual, as a social person, to be welcomed in its human and cultural depth, in full respect of the environment of belonging. Every single pupil is read in his socio- cultural complexity and invited, through the acquisition of suitable instruments, to discover new horizons, to a personal reading of the environment near and far, and to create his own spaces on the path to beauty. In addition to the implementation of the technology-digital sector, the need for a closer link between the various arts, as well as close collaboration with the teaching staff, has been highlighted to set up a teaching where the acquisition of skills and abilities is a means, not an objective, functional to socio-cultural growth.


These challenges that we accept for the immediate future, finding the right investment, are more indispensable than ever today to pursue the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as the economic crisis that has already been triggered threatens to result in a social crisis. Our training work with children through the arts is complementary to the curriculum, and we hope to find the means to expand, as our artistic projects in the classroom move concretely to provide quality education that guarantees freedom and fairness to each one, combating poverty, enhancing and promoting the social and economic inclusion of all people (regardless of gender, age, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic status or otherwise), and encouraging effective partnerships between public and private in the public sector.


These commitments as an association and our projects are essential today also for a more intimate reason in each of us, all the more so in boys and girls, that is the need to rework this extraordinary and unprecedented experience. We want to emphasize this need with the reflection of a child who participated in our courses, who wrote, with respect to the quarantine period and with respect to the future:

“I think the Covid emergency has confined us to a bubble, that it has affected those who need a presence next to the lesson” and “I think it’s an uncertain future because we don’t know if we’ll go back to school, how we’ll learn, and if what we’ve learned now will serve us tomorrow.” We are sure that artistic expression is an essential practice to share such exceptional and pervasive moments and to reformulate one’s past towards a more serene future.

Domenico Maria Costantini, Social Anthropologist

MUS-E Germany


What impact had the corona crisis on our national education system?

A look on primary schools: From mid of March 2020 all schools were closed all of a sudden. More or less the teachers kept in touch with the pupils. Some pupils/parents did not have the electronic devises, experience or language competence to take part in digital home schooling. In this cases it took some weeks to include also these children. Experienced and engaged teachers did a great job like starting the day together with their pupils online, checking the completed tasks, calling by phone or visiting the children and families. While others just gave homework online.

What happened to artists and the cultural sector in general?

Artists and the complete cultural sector came to a sudden stop. The government was quite quick in establishing funds for freelance artists. Yet the revival of the cultural sector proceeds only with tiny and slow steps. As indoor assemblies with larger groups of people are still very restricted there are no concepts how to make a restart. Small groups start outdoor or with other creative ideas.

MUS-E® projects in times of the Coronavirus?

Also the MUS-E® projects came to a sudden stop. After the schools’ restricted restart MUS-E® projects could not be continued as the school lessons concentrated on basic learning (write, read, count). No lessons in music, art and sport were scheduled and external persons were not allowed to enter the school building.
Only in one school with elder pupils in Berlin the MUS-E® project could be continued.

What did MUS-E® do as a reaction to this crisis?

* MUS-E® Germany did continue to pay the artists for eight more weeks after the shutdown as a sign of support and appreciation.
* We were in close contact with our coordinators.
* We decided to take over the costs of the MUS-E® lessons for the second interrupted school semester 2019/2020 and to provide the schools with the money for another school semester (the first in 2020/2021) that the children will have a chance for a complete uninterrupted MUS-E® project. This was possible with generous gifts to our quickly established „special charity fund“ during the corona crisis.

How did MUS-E® artists deal with the situation?

Some artists produced videos to keep in touch with their classes although the children could only be reached with the help of the class teachers.
In a few cases the artists could be at school for a good bye before the summer break.

MUS-E Belgium


What impact the coronavirus crisis had on your national education system?

From March 13 2020 onwards the lockdown in Belgium was a fact. This meant abrupt closure of all schools, lessons and all public services and buildings. The schools were obliged to provide care for children of parents who work for example in the health sector. After the Easter holidays on monday April 20 schools started pre-teaching. This meant teaching online and making lessons-packages for all pupils which could be collected from the schools. Many children and youngsters could not be reached because of the absence of computers/laptops at home.

On Friday May 8 the measures were made less strict and three grades per school could attend school unless there could be a safe distance guaranteed by creating 4 square meters for each pupil and 8 square meters for the teacher in one classroom. From June 5 all classes can restart and each class is considered a ‘contact-bubble’ which can not be in contact with another ‘contact bubble’ to create safety. For schools this is difficult to organize breaks on the playground.


What happened to the artists and cultural sector in your country? 

All cultural institutes closed doors and therefore exhibitions, concerts and performances in Belgium and abroad were canceled/postponed. Workshops, lessons and ateliers with students and participants came to a sudden stop. All of this meant an enormous drop of income for artists and many had difficulties to survive. Many online art projects arose, which were mostly artists’ initiatives, i.e. unpaid work.


What did MUS-E as a reaction?

MUS-E Belgium kept on paying the artists who were working on a project the moment the lockdown started. So from March13 until their project would last, they received their wages. In return they created movies, booklets for the children with art works by the same children they worked with at that moment.

The MUS-E team organized weekly video-calls to be updated, organized and informed. There was time to reflect and plan the future. The ministry of education launched several calls for proposals for summer schools- and activities but also for qualitative afterschool daycare sessions for the period September-December 2020. This in order to support children who need extra activities to support and encourage them with language and learning in a playful manner. MUS-E saw this as an opportunity to write the applications with a long-term vision and collaboration with cultural partners in mind.



What impact had corona crisis on our national education system?

In mid-April the Federal Council of Switzerland decided that the compulsory primary schools would be re-opened 11 May 2020. The corresponding protection concepts had been drawn up. Class events, school camps, parent’s meetings at schools are still prohibited. The school rooms should be furnished in such a way as to ensure a certain distance to each other. The teachers should keep a distance of two meters to their students. Using digital teaching and learning tools is a new reality. Questions are raised such as “how should the pupils be assessed at distance?” or “should the school children be allowed to travel in crowded buses without a protection mask?” and many others more. In addition to factual issues, there are big emotional impacts weighing heavily on all concerned. To cope with the new situation is a real challenge.

What happened to the artists and cultural sector in general? MUS-E® Projects in Times of the Coronavirus?

The drastically changed situation brought particular challenges for our MUS-E® artists. Can children be encouraged to engage in creative activities from distance? Would it make any sense at all? A few artists have tried it. It is impressive to see how well some of them used new media to stay in contact with the children. “Corona projects” are currently being implemented in several schools. Short video films are created, one class invents a fantasy story using the class chat, another class is modelling sculptures. Now all schools are opened again and it seems, that many of them installed technologies such as Zoom, Teams etc. as a new tool for teaching and use them on regular terms.

The Corona crises hit the people working in the artistic and cultural sector heavily. The crises effects two sides, one is the economic one, the other is the creative one. The artists income broke in all of a sudden. A lot of them realized, that they aren’t insured for times like this. Looking from the artistic side, who else could better cope with such a situation than artists? They came up with lots of touching projects as you saw them on television: singing on the balcony, giving a solo violin concert in the park, putting a concert on Youtube from home, and many more. Crises are chances, the artists know the tools to handle crises.

What did MUS-E as a reaction to these crises?

Unfortunately, many events and projects had to be cancelled or postponed. Then what about the payments of the artists, who just lost their engagements?

Corona virus – MUS-E® artists in Switzerland


Short-time work and compensation for self-employed artists

Short-time work has been announced for all affected MUS-E® artists in Switzerland during Corona crises. The aim of short-time working is to preserve jobs which would otherwise be at risk. To this end, companies can temporarily reduce the working hours of their employees or even stop working completely. The so-called short-time compensation is paid for the loss of work. This amounts to 80% present of the loss of earnings, i.e. 80% of the lost wages.

Self-employed artists who suffer loss of income due to official measures to combat Corona virus will also be compensated, unless compensation or insurance benefits have already been paid.

Compensation is provided for following cases:


  • Closures of schools
  • Medically prescribed quarantine
  • Closure of an independently managed publicly accessible business

The regulation also applies to freelance artists who suffer an interruption of employment because their engagements are cancelled due to the measures taken against the Corona virus or because they have to cancel an event on their own.

The cultural institutions were also willing to offer support within the scope of their possibilities. In the Canton of Bern, where most MUS-E® projects take place, the Directorate of Education and Culture BKD has been intensively searching for solutions. The following has agreed in combination with short-time working: The lessons that are cancelled could be made up and invoiced.

MUS-E® must go on! We take the crises as an opportunity to show the importance of arts in schools especially in difficult times and we are increasing our fundraising activities.

How do MUS-E® artists deal with the situation?

Due to the changes of COVID-19 students, artists and teachers had quickly to adapt to exchanges at distance by using virtual media, a big challenge for all concerned. Luckily, most school children are equipped with the necessary infrastructure. Some artists used social media and stayed in contact with the school children during the whole lockdown.

We asked the artists to show us their own strategies for dealing with the difficult situation.


Have there been artistic approaches? How have they been in contact with MUS-E® classes? The artists were asked to report back to us about the activities or send us photos of current or previous MUS-E® projects, which we will make available on Facebook and Instagram.

Learning, teaching, working at distance has been a challenging experience. Still, art projects can’t be replaced with virtual contacts. You want to see real faces and actions, hear spontaneous laughing, smell the air in the classroom, feel the energy of the individual and the group. Sooner than later, the artists want to go back to live sessions.



Personal view – Impressions of Ruth Bielmann, coordinator


Art projects can offer diverse experiences and full concentration on creative work. COVID-19 has thrown us in a new reality. Trying out something new, failing, getting up and carry on, overcoming challenging situations together, wondering, asking questions, looking for solutions, losing oneself while creating, enduring frustration, being happy about what has been achieved. Being proud after the completion of a project.

Doesn’t that sound like a school of life? When I visit MUS-E® schools, I always encounter children in their highest concentration, absorbed in their work. But not being in the mood or feeling inner resistance is also part of it. All in all, the children can benefit from these projects and gather experiences, nice and good ones, maybe difficult ones too. The projects contribute to strengthening the community and to developing the potential of the individual.

This is my wish for each child, each class and each school.

Associação Yehudi Menuhin Portugal


Covid-19 forced MUS-E Portugal to rethink their aims and methods. The challenges of the programme have also slightly moved: before covid-19, it was difficult to demonstrate the usefulness and advantage of MUS-E, compared to other art/education/inclusion projects. With covid-19, the main challenge is the technical adaptation to the non-classroom environment and integration into the school structure. Yet, in close collaboration with the schools (teachers and directors), they managed to reach out students with activities and synchronous sessions. They have taken a digital turn with the objective of implementing a program that aims to distribute notebooks and tablets to children who do not have access to the necessary tools.


MUS-E Évora has launched with their local team a 10-episode online theatre play called “Era una vez… o livro” (Once upon a time… the book) which was published afterwards. The action aimed at giving pedagogic and entertainment content for children around the theme of the book and address several aspects of their curricula as well as promote their interest in reading. After the first release, many teachers – not only from their school group but other schools as well ) started to request the links to teach their students. The translation of the episodes in other languages with the support of the MUS-E Network gave an exponential outreach of the materials created, which were used in Europe and abroad. After an evaluation of the approach coordinated by teachers, psychologists, cultural animators and school boards, they created a project “#ça em casa, o artista sou eu” (#at home, I’m the artist”. During 8 “webisodes”, they helped students building their own show. For all students, but particularly those having difficulties accessing the internet, they delivered a paper worksheet at school explaining the on-going process.


The International MUS-E Council managed by IYMF are essential in streamlining the reflection on the themes “Modern MUS-E. The global and digital world” as well as for the exchange of best practices for the sustainability of the project and its stakeholders.

Fundación Yehudi Menuhin España


In Spain, on March 14, the state of Alarm was decreed and face-to-face classes were suspended. Yet, work continued online, with many difficulties, and the great digital battle that existed has been revealed, between centres and students. As far as artists are concerned, the Fundación Yehudi Menuhin España (FYME) has embraced an ERTE, temporary regulation of work where the state pays 70% of salary.

During this period, FYME has launched a series of online workshops and tutorials applying MUS-E Methodology and shedding light on the value of the arts in the construction of the personality and in the personal development. Those activities allowed children to continue learning while having fun and as Yehudi Menuhin said “a happy child is a child who learns”.

It is highly important to promote the value of the Art in the face of this crisis, as highlighted by the FYME President Enrique Barón Crespo.

n the face of the current crisis there are two ways out: the first is to rely on an illusory isolation, a retreat and hostility that leads to unilateral and aggressive policies. The other is to reaffirm as one humanity that we have to face a global challenge with global responses and solidarity in politics, economics, health… and also in culture. That is why, in the face of selfishness – the ‘self first as the motor of profit’ – we must strengthen the world order of which the WHO, the UN World Health Organisation, is an essential element fighting for a universal public good.

For reasons of public health, Art cannot now be done in traditional spaces, from schools to theatres or auditoriums, although human inventiveness is finding other ways. But confinement has a limited time. When we overcome this emergency situation, the world will never be the same again, and in order to reconsider the frenzy of movement and in communication in today’s world, art in all its dimensions must play a decisive role.

That is why we emphasize that in this period of confinement ‘The school is not closed, the buildings are closed’. Within this framework, teachers continue their work with vocation and conviction.



Up until March 2020, the MUS-E school year went on as it used to for 25 years. Our artists visited children on a weekly basis, incorporating activities into their normal schedule. This year 26 artists, in 6 cities, 8 schools, and 18 classes, worked with approximately 400 children, in a year-round and trimester system.

In Hungary (due to the COVID-19 virus), according to the decision of PM Orbán and the Operative Board on the evening of 13th March, schools were closed first for an indefinite period starting on 16th March and then until the end of the school year, 12th June. Teachers had a weekend to prepare and switch to digital education.

On Monday, 16 March, digital education launched across the country. That is, it would have launched, but the first period clearly fell victim to general panic. Then in a couple of weeks, the system was more or less organised and teaching began with varying success and results.

On 17th March the MUS-E Hungary “Operative Board” held its first meeting, one day after the school closures, and from then on nearly every day, until our own new system was set up.

As a first step, we consulted with our teachers, asked how much struggle they had to face, what their difficulties were and what platforms schools work on (different in each case: Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Skype, Facebook, Zoom, e-mail). We also learnt that unfortunately not everyone was able to integrate digital education. By region (on a variable basis), 5-50% of classes were unable to join due to lack of technical equipment, deep poverty or other reasons.

From then on, we held MUS-E Operative Meetings several times a week and full team meetings once a week.

We have identified two paths:

  1. As immediate, quick help, we created illustrative videos to help interpret and comprehend the curriculum. Video topics were provided by teachers. They sent poems, music, or other content on a weekly basis which we processed with artistic tools. In 2 months, 23 study-aid-videos were created in the form of 5-10-minute sessions.
  2. As a continuation of MUS-E classes, we launched online MUS-E sessions. Each week, different artist pairs made 2 videos, one for children in Grade 1-2 and another for students in Grade 3-4. Areas of arts included music, dance, fine arts, visual engineering, cinema, theatre, movement, circus, singing and their combinations. In total, we produced a 28 episodes series, entitled “MUS-E – House of Treasures”.


During these two months we learned a lot about ourselves, about each other, from each other, about the digital space, online interfaces and their impact, but most of all we found a new and thus far lesser known path to reach children. We developed the quantity and content of format that most effectively aroused children’s interest. Several of our videos already have thousands of views.

Each of our short films also encourages activity, co-creation or making a singular piece of work. Lots of drawings, photos, and videos were sent to us by students with the help of teachers.

We have embarked on a new journey, which is worth pursuing – in addition to our previous activities. Our team of artists was enthusiastic and curious about the new challenge and contributed to the weekly video series with great pleasure and through an inexhaustible toolbox. Overwhelming positive feedback shows that a new, useful and high-quality tool has been introduced into digital education to alleviate the difficulties of learning at home.


What impact did the corona crisis have on your national education system?

The conona crisis impacted Israel’s national education system in overt and covert manners.


Overtly, the pandemic caused the following problems:

  • The national education system closed in-person activities and pivoted to distance learning, which relies on access to technological devices and an internet connection. Typically, students from low-income families have limited, or zero, access to such technologies. In fact, many of the students in our project shared with us that the only device they could use is their parent’s cellphone, which is not conducive for learning. Even those who had access to a laptop often had to rely on internet from a cellphone rather than a more stable WiFi connection. Given this disparity, as well as differing levels of computer literacy, the situation widened the pre-existing academic gaps between students from disadvantaged and more affluent backgrounds.
  • At the tertiary level, over half of Israeli students are concerned about paying their tuition due to coronavirus and 19% have decided to postpone their studies due to financial difficulties.


Covertly, COVID-19 impacted our national education system in the following ways:

  • In March, the Israeli government instituted a national “lockdown” designed to curb the spread of the virus. A devastating economic crisis ensued, causing approximately one million Israelis to lose their livelihood. In April, Israel’s unemployment rate soared to over 27% – the highest in the nation’s history – standing in stark comparison to the 4% level prior to the crisis. While some have been able to return to work in recent weeks, many have had to find new, lower-paying jobs, and half of working-age adults report their financial situation has worsened, foreshadowing increasing income inequality.
  • Undoubtedly, those who have been, and will continue to be, most negatively impacted during these turbulent economic times are those who were already struggling just to make ends meet. Many of our students’ parents were laid off from their unstable and low-wage positions with no savings to fall back on. Throughout this time, they have been trying their best to feed, care for, and “homeschool”, their children, many of whom experience learning challenges. Unemployed parents find it very difficult to support their children physically or emotionally as they face ongoing problems in and out of school.
  • These findings immediately impact the society’s mental health. Thus, according to recent surveys, one-third of Israelis are experiencing increased anxiety and a quarter of parents shared that their children’s emotional wellbeing deteriorated. Ironically, it is at the exact moment when children are most in need of care that society is least able to fund beneficial educational and therapeutic programs.
  • These statistics weigh heaviest on the weaker segments of our population, as societal gaps grow wider in times of stress. Israel’s minority groups hurt most by the pandemic include: Arab Israelis, who constitute 21% of the population, however, 44.2% Arabs live in poverty; Ethiopian immigrants (2% of Israel’s population) and Druze populations (120,000 individuals, many of whom don’t have the internet infrastructure for long-distance education).
  • Also, many members of the religious communities directed and worked in educational programs designed for overseas students. Due to the lockdown, these students will not choose to study in Israel. The institutions may be forced to close, and all of these educators will lose their jobs.
  • In addition, welfare ministries report a dramatic rise in sexual violence amid the corona crisis as victims of abuse find themselves trapped in homes with abusers.


What happened to the artists and cultural sector in general?


With the worldwide concert industry now in flux, the coronavirus disruption has created a volatile environment for artists, musicians, songwriters and producers on every level. Indeed, our artists are among those hit most by the financial ramifications of COVID-19.


Starting in the Wuhan province, concert halls were amongst the first places to restrict their public activities. As the pandemic spread across the world, concert halls, libraries, museums, theaters, zoos, and gardens closed their doors indefinitely (or at least radically curtailed their services), with exhibitions, events, and performances postponed or cancelled. Whether the result of voluntary safety measures, decreased public demand due to fears of the virus, or mandated governmental restrictions, by late March, most cultural institutions ceased in-person activities. In addition, venues halted rehearsals and producers suspended filming.


In response, there were intensive efforts to provide alternative or additional services through digital platforms, and to maintain essential activities with minimal resources. Despite these stop-gap measures, the extended closure of musical venues threatens the long-term survival of these activities. In Israel, and around the world, the gravity of the situation is demonstrated by the following problems:

  • The cancellation of shows and concerts by both local and international performers caused many of our artists to temporarily, or permanently, lose contracts or employment.
  • Given the widespread unemployment amongst artists and the cultural sector in general, the Israel Association of Musical Performing Arts Promoters recently sent a letter to Finance Committee Chairman, Moshe Gafni, requesting compensation for the economic damage due to the cancellations.
  • In addition to musicians, the virus is also negatively impacting cinema as filmmakers are unable to produce new work or even screen their existing films. Israel’s largest film festivals – Docaviv, the Tel Aviv documentary film festival, in May; the Jerusalem Film Festival in July; the Haifa International Film Festival in the fall – have all been postponed. Internationally, Israeli filmmakers are concerned about the cancellation of major global film festivals, such as Cannes, which offers critical exposure.
  • In the words of one Tel Aviv music professional, “The virus is creating a huge logistical nightmare for all.” Indeed, some filmmakers are hoping that festivals will continue digitally and that they will sell their movies to online streaming platforms as opposed to theatrical distribution.
  • Looking forward, the cultural sector expects that the public’s demand for these types of activities will return, but the timing and format of these events is impossible to foresee. For example, the public is more willing to attend events held in large outdoor spaces, such as outdoor concerts, zoos, or botanical gardens, than indoor concerts, cinemas, or museums. Undoubtedly, not all venues will survive this crisis and those that are able to re-open – including well-regarded institutions – will operate differently than in the past.
  • As Israel gradually re-opens, the various methods of reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 include:
    • Reducing the number of attendees allowed at one time;
    • Staggering entrances, when possible, through reserved timeslots;
    • Mandating attendees wear masks;
    • Providing hand sanitizer;
    • Encouraging social distancing by designing exhibits with a one-way route;
    • Installing clear dividers between staff and attendees;
    • Offering no-touch bathroom fixtures, such as hand dryers; and
    • Checking each attendee’s temperature upon entry.


What did MUS-E do as a reaction to these crises?


Implemented within the framework of the Jaffa Institute’s educational and therapeutic programming, MUS-E reacted to these crises with an immediate and long-term goal in mind: firstly, to ensure that artistic and musical events continue and that the children, especially those at-risk, continue their creative activities; and, secondly, to financially and emotionally sustain the community of artists.


Adapting to operate in a remote capacity, the programs offered online learning and virtual therapy for children, their parents, and elderly individuals. Through WhatsApp groups and video chats (pictured), the staff continued to serve participants while tracking their progress. In addition, the children received nutritional support through food packages delivered to their home along with arts-and-crafts supplies, which provided them with a creative, educational, and therapeutic outlet.


The staff also created videos, such as the link featured below, with music, dances, stories, and artistic activities for parents to engage their children at home. Based on the parents’ needs, the staff also provided one-on-one counseling and translation services.




To sustain the community’s elderly individuals, including Holocaust survivors, the organization continues to provide food, therapy, and stimulation. Artists and children of the MUS-E program participate in visits, engaging these citizens in singing, dancing, and warm social encounters, from a safe distance, as seen in the below picture and video.



The main educational activity sponsored by Mus-E Jaffa, involved a six-week summer camp. As in every year, the Jaffa Institute organizes summer activities for the children that it serves. This framework is especially important for our children because they cannot afford to pay for local camps and we need to prevent them from wandering in the streets during the long summer days of vacation. The camp is held in strict adherence with safety and security procedures, as outlined by the municipality.

This year, we decided to devote the theme of the summer camp to a topic that is relevant to these days – Discovering the World through Technology and Culture. During six weeks, we are focusing on three locations: Japan, Italy and Africa, devoting two weeks to each area. To make this experience feel authentic, the children created their own “passport,” which will be stamped during each visit.


When we focus on the topic of “the environment and music”, the children will build instruments from recycled materials to accompany them as they sing in a choir. The purpose of the activity is to promote creativity, musicality, and intercultural awareness and acceptance through participating in performances of different musical styles.


The contents of the camp are delivered in collaboration with the Jaffa Institute’s scientific laboratories and include:

  • A food lab that focuses on the historical aspects of the foods that characterize each country, and the contribution of technology and science to the development of the food industry.
  • A science lab that focuses on the technological developments of each country.
  • Cultural activities that highlight the culture of each country and its development.


We look forward to an instructive and experiential summer that arouses curiosity, creates challenges and cultivates excellence in an experiential and fun way.


Also, the Jaffa Institute has decided to expand its MUS-E music-education program. Toward implementing this goal, it appointed Alon Stern, an accomplished cellist and music educator, to direct the arts-education program. Alon’s responsibilities include: ·         Locating and training teachers in group art lessons, which adhere to the principles and values of MUS-E. The programs will take place in all of the Institute’s child-care centers and after-school educational programs. ·         Building and adapting an annual curriculum for all of the children.·         Maintaining on-going follow-up and dialogue with the general staff and other artists. ·         Purchasing and safeguarding the equipment and instruments needed to secure the smooth running of the programs. ·         Creating and producing special events that bring together the children from the different child-care centers through singing, playing instruments, and other artistic activities.


This appointment is especially welcome in a time when so many artists have lost their jobs and sources of income. Moreover, it strengthens the Institute’s commitment to providing all of its children with quality arts education programs, in all times, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Additional activities, sponsored in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, and available for the MUS-E Jaffa Institute, include:

Well-known celebrities sing together with children, via a Zoom meeting, enabling the children to feel close to their admired singers.

Children volunteer to visit residents in senior citizen homes, and raise their spirits by playing music and dancing with them.

Arab children reach out to their brothers and sisters nationwide, encouraging them to find good in every bad situation.

Children’s school choir and orchestra perform for their friends nationwide.

Music teachers nation-wide joined forces via Zoom, and created an exciting musical ride for Israel’s children.

Violins for Peace – 100 years Yehudi Menuhin

To mark the centenary of the birth of Yehudi Menuhin, the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation organized an exceptional tribute concert to honour this incomparable musician, who worked throughout his life for peace and intercultural dialogue. The tribute concert took place at the Centre of Fine Arts in Brussels on the 20 October 2016.

True to Yehudi Menuhin’s spirit of service to humanity and to the multicultural life he led, the programme for this tribute concert offered a journey through classical, Indian, jazz and Gypsy music in the company of friends and former pupils of Yehudi Menuhin. The line-up included the great violonist Dr L. Subramaniam (India), Valery Sokdov (Ukraine), Vadim Repin (Russia/belgium), Gilles Apap (France), Iva Bittova (Czech Republic), Kerson Leong (laureate of the 2010 Menuhin Competition in Oslo), and Menuhin’s favourite pupil, Volker Biesenbender (Germany), as well as the Turkish percussionist Burhan Öçal and the Hungarian Gypsy violin virtuoso Roby Lakatos. The Yehudi Menuhin School orchestra and the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel also took part.

A dear friend to Yehudi Menuhin, Pierre Rhabi gave a speech on Yehudi Menuhin’s concern for the environment and way of life.

A dialogue of souls around the Mediterranean Sea – December 2017

A unique musical production bringing together musicians from diverse cultures guided by Grand Maestro Jordi Savall, who embodies the same values as Yehudi Menuhin (sharing, respect of diversity, co-creation and intercultural dialogue). Musicians from Israel, Syria, Turkey, Greece and Spain will perform a musical dialogue which includes songs of Christian, Sephardic, Ottoman and Arab-Andalusian origins. Prompted by the large flows of migrants and refugees throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, this theme aims at raising awareness of the cultural richness of the countries bordering the Mare Nostrum. The concert will demonstrate how music can serve an even more prominent role in cultural diplomacy.

Jordi Savall and his musicians for an intercultural dialogue through music

Jordi Savall’s generous, charismatic conducting and its refined, radiant, dramatic interpretation on the fiddle and the rebab, whose treasures of expressiveness he helps us discover, invites us to the core of a distant land where harmony and peace finally reign.

The Maestro courageously gives a voice to suffering men and women. At the feet of olive trees, on the shores of an intensely blue Mediterranean sea, shepherds and musicians come together to tell us about the extraordinary beauty of the world.

Alongside Jordi Savall, there will be Waed Bouhassoun, accompanying himself on the oud, and Moslem Rahal, a virtuoso Syrian flautist (on a ney) as well as other singers and musicians whose instruments are all of Mediterranean and/or eastern origin. Morocco, Italy, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey are thus brought together to share with us the most beautiful values. We are strangely bewitched while listening to them. This music brings us back to the banks of the Euphrates river in those spellbinding, lost or still vibrant cities – Damascus, Bagdad, Alep… Mari or Babylon – where our origins lay.           (Monique Parmentier)


Orit Atar (Israel) Voice

Waed Bouhassoun (Syria)Voice

Katerina Papadopoulou (Greece) Voice


Haïg Sarikouyoumdjian Duduk&Belul

Moslem Rahal Ney

Yurdal Tokcan Oud

Hakan Güngör  Kanun

Dimitri Psonis Santur& Moresca

Pedro Estevan Percussion


Jordi Savall
Fiddle, Rebec & Conducting

Musical Moment – 26 June 2018

On the 26th of June 2018, the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation held an intimate concert for the Friends of the Foundation, as well as its partners. For this event, 3 young musicians who were part of the Music Up Close Network project (connecting young audiences to orchestral music) gave a unique performance: the Italian cellist Altea Narici, the flutist Hugo Valentijn and the guitarist Parsa Sanjari.

Projects by MUS-E Belgium

Learn about some cool and interesting projects MUS-E Belgium has been working on recently!


Hotel Wiels

Hotel Wiels is a project by MUS-E artists Hanna Ravnsborg and Maud Lefever in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Centre Wiels in Brussels. Students from the 5th and 6th grade of elementary school “The Puzzle” were given a model of the Gabriel Kuri exhibition as a gift. They were inspired to reflect about their own utopian hotel. It resulted in the beautiful model of Hotel Wiels with a cinema, a swimming pool and above all lots of space for people and art.

Identity Affairs


Identity Affairs is a project in which visual artist Elias Ghekiere and thirteen young people from a reception class for foreign-language newcomers (OKAN) in Hasselt went in search of their individuality, imagination and creativity. Their exhibition shows the work process and the creations. Identity Affairs was aimed at discovering the possibilities of materials, as a possibility of (non-verbal) expression. As an invitation to meet …

Gids off – Guide off


In Gids Off – Guide Off pupils of the OKAN class at VTI Kortrijk explore the history of the different swimming pools of the city. They could hardly believe the oldest pool opened as early as in 1867. All their research will result in an art exhibition and a tour guide on Heritage Day in April 2020. This event is held annually and invites everybody to interact with cultural heritage in his or her own daily environment in a contemporary, qualitative and meaningful manner. MUS-E Belgium is a partner since 2016.

Chinara Miamona & Caroline Donnelly @Les Ateliers du Temps Libre – WOLUBILIS

Chinara is a painter from Azerbaijan. Caroline is a performer, actress and stage director in charge of a drama workshop at Woluculture. During drama classes at the Ateliers du Temps Libre, the group of participants (of all ages) got inspired by the personal story of Chinara and turned it into a unique performance.

Sometimes it’s only when we are separated from a sound, an atmosphere, a person, an object, a place, a mouvement, a song..that we realise what is vital for our soul.  What makes me what I am, what is part of me, what has made me who I am, what is essential, what I really want, what I don’t dare say.  What are my secrets and do I dare share them?  Locked away or isolated these characters, inspired by drawings and personal stories reveal their secrets.

Musical Moment – 21 May 2019

La Libre: Homelands

2019-04-13 LA LIBRE

LE SOIR: Homelands, places of belgonging


Yehudi Menuhin for Europe

Yehudi Menuhin was one of the greatest musicians of all time. But not only. From the concentration camps liberated in 1945 to the end of the siege of Sarajevo in 1996, Yehudi Menuhin never resolved to separate music from his political commitments and he was the author of impactful writings and speeches. More than ever, his values and messages of tolerance are a powerful source of inspiration for the 21st century and the future of Europe, especially at the eve of the European Parliamentary elections.

For those who have not dared to enter his music, his texts and speeches will be the gateway to the universe of this great musician engaged in the battles of his century.

“Yehudi Menuhin for Europe” is a recollection of inspirational speeches and writings as well as joyful souvenirs, pictures and videos that should resonate with the present days.

Homelands, places of belonging: FINAL EVENT – 4 May 2019

On the 4th of May, we held the final event of the project Homelands, places of belonging celebrating and shedding a spotlight on 6 monhts of co-creation and fruitfult collaboration between 8 refugee-artists and partners from the socio-cultural sector of Brussels! This is just to get a taste of the event… Pictures by Kristof Claeys.

Yehudi Menuhin’s alarm call


Yehudi Menuhin’s alarm call – Our civilization is heading towards collective suicide 

Interview by François Delétraz in Le Figaro Magazine – Staurday, November 14, 1998 

This weekend, the famous violinist is conducting a concert at the Cirque de Bruxelles. Interview with a wise man who saw the century pass.


Le Figaro Magazine – You are very critical of the modern world

Yehudi Menuhin – Our civilization suffers from a lack of vision and disaster anticipation. Everyone tries to enjoy the moment. Without hindsight, without objectivity. Everywhere there is a lack of mediation and creativity. Especially in schools. The arts are absent from our lives. And we surrender to violence.


Is it the product of capitalism?

Not only that. In the Soviet Union, it was a state capitalism. When Moses had already come down from the mountain, he had found his people worshipping the golden calf. Perhaps it is the need to survive that pushes us to be only in the moment. However, the human animal has another dimension. He is aware that he is conscious, he asks himself questions that he cannot answer. It is to this dimension that religions and philosophies are attached. It is this questioning that creates unity and belonging to the universe. But we are so concerned today about events in constant turmoil, about this radical change that I have seen accelerate in my life, that we are no longer worthy of our knowledge, of our duty to respect life… These problems are much more crucial today than ever before. We must integrate them into our thoughts and attitudes if we are to escape a kind of collective suicide. Before, nature was more powerful than man. Even though we were engaged in wars and destruction, the forests came back, we could swim in the sea, the whales survived. But the means of pollution and destruction have become so enormous that even nature is now our enemy.


Why are we moving so quickly towards this collective suicide?

We are all united. The fate of all humanity depends neither on Jesus nor on the Buddha nor on Moses. And if we do not correct these Pavlovian reflexes, we will be powerless to face this time when humanity is still struggling to exploit, to defeat, to exercise tyranny. To collect as much as possible, without worrying about what will follow. And to live at the expense of those who have no recourse or resources. Our teaching in this regard is also not up to the task.


Why is technology becoming increasingly important?

Because it allows us to flourish, to relieve ourselves, to be inspired, to have fun.


And to restrain us?

Yes, good technology, for example, is a technology that makes it possible to travel better without polluting. But the will to improve is insufficient, because there are always people who want to keep what they have. To think that the United States is opposed to some decisions against pollution! That they hesitated to sign this agreement on the resources of the sea! We pretend that not everyone has moved in ten thousand years. The desire for conquest is unchanged: Russia against Chechnya, Israel against the Palestinians, or the cursed Milosevic against other cultures. Instead of letting live, of respecting. We must share with those who do not resemble us, because their differences enrich us. You have to respect what is unique in others.


Are you against nationalism?

Absolutely. Nationalism has been a useful step in development. But there is no longer a truly sovereign nation. Fortunately, there have been great men in Europe, French, Germans, Belgians, Luxembourgers, who have laid the foundations for a union designed to reduce the independence and sovereignty of States. At the same time, this unity is too great to create a united fervour. Like the fervor of tribes defending themselves against other tribes. The State has never been the protector and guardian of minorities. He has always sought to impose unity, to have a population that defends him. Everyone had to show the same reference to the state and its flag. This happened a century ago in Italy and Germany, during the unification, and it is older in France. The State is the result of technological progress. Railroad, steel, cannons. Since today’s world is on a different scale, we need an association of populations and talents to satisfy the requirements of our knowledge, our research and our thinking. To overcome the limited means of our tribe, our city, our state.


Are you European?

Yes, excessive nationalism – just as there is fundamentalism in religion, there is excessive nationalism – hides behind false certainties. This allows the mind and intelligence to be relieved, while it is necessary to develop intellectual structures to find balances between opposites. Fundamentalism excludes opposites. We believe that a fragment of truth is the whole truth. But the opposition is wonderful if you reap the benefits. What would we do if all worlds were the same?


Aren’t you afraid to take a stand against extremism in a country that is dear to you, Israel?

It’s like religion, there are subjects we avoid. Religion is a wonderful thing, if you are a believer. It helps to accept fate. But religions are like men. And some religions have not behaved any better than men. I can’t believe in a priest who blesses a cannon that will kill innocent people.


It’s human nature to want power?

Yes, but we don’t have enough knowledge to change that. We have made enormous progress in social understanding, in the child’s understanding. For example, what I am doing with the Muse project… When singing and dancing coupled with a Marian art are brought to schools where violence exists, this violence stops.


Let us be utopian: what would it take to make the will to power less strong?

Education first. Teach, share knowledge. Teach the nuances of human relationships, do not forget creativity, the arts of the five senses. We were born with these senses. Hearing in particular, which is the first. It is hearing that allows us to orient ourselves, to listen to others, to produce sounds that are pleasant to others. To recognize the danger. We would not have a memory without hearing. Linking emotion and thought in children is essential. Otherwise, we focus on theories that have no value. The baby’s hearing combines thought and emotion because it is memory, not thought. The memory allows comparison.


Does technology bring together emotion and thought?

You should be able to create through inspiration, but computers have a huge vocabulary, they have incredible sounds that we don’t know. On the other hand, they do not have any grammar. Maybe it will come. It is a whole continent still unexplored. They have acquired knowledge, but no innate skills. There are too many possibilities today, we must return to values that bring together differences. We have specialists in each field, and almost one language per field. There is not enough thought to connect the scattered elements and contrasts. Everything is independent. Look at the States: the Ministry of Education has nothing to do with the Ministry of Health or Culture. Yet, as in the family, as in the community, we cannot live without contacts. But our intellectual world is made up of categories, it is bordered by arbitrary and artificial borders. Bridges must be built, but this requires knowledge, a greater vision of man and his destiny.


Do you feel like a wise man?

The music gave me some perspective. I have lived deeply this century, I have a kind of experience. I know people of all colours, races and religions. At the same time, I have never become a slave to any race or religion. This allows me to compare and approach the human. I imagine a kind of contemporary religion that would be in harmony with knowledge. It is a heresy to say: God is in me. God is a father, a kind of tyrant. We cannot imagine a religion that would not derive from experience. For some tribes, it was the volcano, because it was powerful and dangerous. All gods are powerful. They are built in the image of men, not the other way around. Yet it is the same energy that has formed us. And which allows us, century after century, to get closer to this primary intelligence. We are possessed by this eternity. We exist on several levels: the moment, the years, the generations. But there is a much larger dimension than that. We are in a state of creativity, of constant adaptation. Our destiny is to learn and approach this intelligence that we will never touch.


Why have you so often been attached to lost causes?

I wouldn’t say lost.



Like the Dalai Lama against the Chinese?

His cause is greater than that. Faced with the Chinese, there will always be this human conception. I hope that each culture will one day accept the other. And that no power will ever seek to impose itself again. Even in Europe, we must protect ourselves from the European Union, where some would like to see the full integration of States, but also of culture. Perhaps tomorrow there will be no more poets, since everyone will speak in an understanding way through computers. To fill the gaps created by globalization and globalization, every child must learn to work with his or her hands, to work the land without a machine, to grow herbs and flowers, to paint, to dance, to make shoes. It is important to maintain this balance that tends towards the abstract and towards the part of ourselves that allows us to live, to have joy, to share these joys and to find security in an atmosphere that is unique to us. We call ourselves German, Catholic, vegetarian. We must belong to the same tribe that nowadays goes beyond borders. Like when I find myself with my African colleagues.


Why do we hear so much music that has no soul?

I would not say that, but it is true that things are done for the masses and that majorities can make mistakes. So do minorities, for that matter. The other great danger is that we want to satisfy everyone. We are therefore not taking a position. As with Kosovo, where Europe is inert. If’justice is not done to these poor Muslims, there will be a reaction, and France’s five million Muslims will react. We are the ones who are pushing them to become fundamentalists. Look at the camps in the Middle East. We take everything away from them and tell them: Live! They find substitute to survive, and since they have nothing of their own they have to take it from others. If we do not do something to show that all people have the right to live, that these people of Kosovo have the right to be protected, we will reap the seed we have sown. Politicians don’t want to risk anything, especially not losing votes. Faced with this inertia, something will move, and I would prefer that we do not wait for a disaster to happen before it moves. We are at the mercy of an impending disaster. Humanity is showing frightening violence.




My proposals for a better world

My proposals for a better world – London, May 18, 1992

Humanity is drifting dangerously in an uncharted sea, having lost any sense of direction as a whole, and without a compass to guide it.

Although we are recognizing the new situation, its dimensions and its problems, no one can answer the simplest questions – where are we going, what do we want, how do we see ourselves, i.e. humanity, even only ten years hence? The old answers are no longer convincing.

Many of us are locked by habit, precedent and convenience into antiquated ways of thought, stereotyped images, unable to distinguish between the often-conflicting requirements of the moment versus the future, and very largely lacking the means – intellectual, physical, organizational or administrative – to assess, analyse, to relate in informed discussion, nor to reach comprehensive decisions.


Our problems

We all know the problems that face us. They are: pollution and degradation of air, water, earth, of man, woman and child; decimation of species and habitat; alienation of Nature; increase of disease and crime and wanton violence; problems – urban and social, but also rural; personal and cultural breakdown – psychological, spriritual, moral, aesthetic; educational problems, in all their manifold aspects – physical, intellectual, intuitive; feeding the legitimate thirst of our senses with false and poisonous substitute nutriment… we are aware of all this and yet we cannot grasp the many strands we must handle to weave the tapestry of our own lives, both individually and collectively.

I have already hinted at two principles categories: the private and the public, the here and now as opposed to the more distant and omnipresent, the tangible and material as opposed to the spiritual and affective, the State as opposed to the Culture.

Humanity has changed radically from an ethos concerned largely with the relationship of man to nature, of man to God, of man to the unknowable, of man to his own specific culture, of the relationship of his very own hands and his senses to the creative and the ordinary tasks he was called upon or called upon himself to do.

In the course of the transformation into modern “advanced” man, he has progressively realized the increasing advantages of growing, ever larger inter-cultural, inter-national cooperation; he has also interposed many separations which have become blockages between the direct relationship of hands to task, of feeling to fulfilment, of man to nature – to his God. Taboos have become religions, scripture and finally laws, cumbersomely administered.



In this context, I would like, first of all, to define the word culture. Culture is everything which determines our mode of expression and which distinguishes one group of beings from another, in contradistinction to competing nationalisms which tend towards uniformity and the flattening out of variety.

The one, culture, defines the very way each person expresses his feelings and thoughts about himself, his sense of values, his relationship to other people, to earth and its inhabitants, from languages to the crafts, to the arts, to his style of living and thinking, his dress, his food, his imagery, superstitions, beliefs – his poems, his myths, his symbols – usually attached to a particular place or small region, or nomadic and nostalgic, attached to the firmament and the open country. Culture radiates from a centre.

The other, nationalism, defines the forces which oblige a variety of cultures to live under one flag or one religion, a particular State or Church. It is measured by power, conquest, subjugation, exploitation through arms or tools – guns, money – and a conviction of superiority, as much in the universality of its beliefs, marked by the emergence of single Gods from multiple Ones, by single currencies from multiple ones, as from a vindicated superiority based upon the success of its technology, weapons, commerce, and the spread of its language, and its own morals. This mode of existence is dedicated to the strengthening, the defense and the expansion of the frontiers, physical boundaries of a given power.

To put it in a few words: a culture radiates from a centre and permeates adjacent cultures; a power consolidates a given area within defined frontiers constantly readjusted by war.

The solution?

The question is: how do we protect and cultivate the dignity, autonomy, the independence of cultures in a world increasingly dominated by and reduced to the most crude and basic urges – greed, fear and sex – unsublimated, even barely disguised, and now a recipe for increasing chaos?

Is the problem not that of finding and creating the “juste milieu” – the climate, intellectual, physical, and spiritual – the structures – representative, administrative, and executive – the formation – logical and intuitive, conceptual and tactile – which would do justice to and would respect the demands of the whole of our nature?

It is not necessary to discard the ritual of State, Church and Law; in fact, it seems essential to me to retain them. But its content must be thoroughly rethought, recasted and rebuilt. If we do not follow this procedure for transformation, we will face the chaos of sudden revolutions now threatening.

On can only command Nature by obeying its laws. Likewise, there can be no acceptable progressing future without an honestly recognized and understood past, which lends the spring-board and the sense of direction to the future.

First of all, in our thinking we must try to distinguish between culture and power. In a civilized world we should no longer have to confuse the two. It should no longer be necessary to assume that a culture goes hand-in-hand with armed militancy. The dignity, autonomy and the independence of a culture should not depend upon its own exclusive apparati of State, i.e. army, foreign office, etc.



In the matter of power, however, our national units, our great States, our countries have in many respects lost the last vestige of sovereignty they ever possessed. Thus, it is inevitable that we are proceeding in the direction of the Confederation or the Federation of States, many of which are already global.

Thus we already have three tiers of human association, i.e. the Culture, the State and the Federation of States.

Hitherto cultures have been at the mercy of Powers. It is essential that, as we grow in amplitude in the one direction, our roots grow in depth in the other.


Representation in Parliament has hitherto favoured the play for power among various competitive interests, but Parliament has rarely heard the voice of the human being as he is, apart from power and money, economic interests, and defense.

In Parliament we have our “right” and our “left”, traditionally the one representing the doctrine of the stronger, independent and better able to look after himself, and the other doctrine of the weaker (formally and globally stronger in numbers), requiring protection, planning, the application of theories of justice, of fairness. Both are subject to the virus of unrestricted power, private initiative degenerating into Fascism, care and concern degenerating into the other most hideous forms of oppression.

Today, in civilized countries, the contrats are nowhere as fierce for each and both partake of each other and discuss alternatives and compromise.

But cultures are left largely unrepresented, and today it is essential to rescue the human being, his family and children, his dignity along with a reconciliation with Nature, and the unknowable – or God –, for these have preceded us and will ultimately succeed us.


My proposal

I would, therefore, propose that at the levels of State and Federation, we institute in addition to the usual House of elected representatives, as in the House of Commons or Congress, another House, another “Chambre des Députés”, representating cultures, with their bonds to earth and sky; that, say, the cultures of Europe be represented by men and women nominated by their people, and several cultures joining to nominate a spokesman. This House would correspond to the House of Lords or the Senate, but would be more attuned to the problems of our day.

A clear division of labour and responsibility must be established between the two.

Politicians would sit in the on House, delegates in the other. I feel that politics should be practised by people with professions, so as not to make politics a profession, i.e. a surveyor, a painter, a craftsman, even a musician would run for office and be elected for, say, a two-year period, after which he or she would return to his or her profession. This would obviate the growing dependence on politics as the sole support for life and ambition.

The other House, in which delegates of cultures would sit, would be responsible for the protection of given cultures, their modes of education, sports, their traditions, languages, religions, holidays as determined by each. However, these must never be hostile to a neighbouring culture or prejudiced against the binding tenets of the larger units.

Measures to be taken

Certain issues may partake of both the economic factors and the cultural, a discussion between the two Houses would ensure a fair solution.

It is absolutely essential, however, that certain practices and types of exploitation be generally and completely outlawaed, be they of men, or women, or children, of animals, air, water, of the fertility of land. It is essential, for instance, to ensure the conservation of species, and severe limits should be put on the size of mono-crops (as well as the misuse of genetic discoveries) – if possible, worldwide.

The measures to be taken should certainly include limits on tourism, on production and dissemination of pollutants, on types of propaganda and all the contemporary influences of communications, electronic, subliminal, or overt, of sheer noise, which desecrate our lives.

Decisions taken in Parliament would have to be ratified by both houses. They would have to consider, for instance, the inherent fault in the policy and the doctrine of constant material growth, of quantity at the expense of quality, of life as of production. The only possible way can persuade and convince our acquisitive, warped societies to renounce part of their vested interest in unqualified growth is to offer in return, for what may appear as immediate sacrifice, a definite improvement in quality for ourselves, our children and global life, as opposed to further unrestrained exploitation and debasement of Nature, its resources, its living beings.


European cooperation

Certainly, only a cooperating European Community can establish Commissions concerned with, say:

  • The waters of Europe (underground and on the surface), including the course of water from the snow of Alpine regions to lakes, rivers and deltas, from the evapotranspiration of plants to the purifying process of each waste water collector, all these waters must be totally protected. The commission should support and rely on such private initiative as “Alp-Action”, but it would have the official clout to take decisions and enforce the urgent measures.
  • The fertility of the earth and the protection of the species adapted to it would be the responsibility of yet another Commission, appointed by our second House to take measures for protecting and restoring to earth, its flora and fauna.
  • Our second House would also mobilize Amnesty, a private organization which could form the guarding nucleus of a Commission concerned with the spread and distribution, the variety of fears, threats, abuse in Europe, ranging from the psychological to the physical.
  • There are already private and semi-public organisations like World Health, but they have little clout. A Commission for Disease and Health would draw upon many sources to guide, to educate as well as to protect the peoples of Europe and adjacent regions.
  • Other Commissions responsible to our second House would study the problem of human time, lives and money spent in counter-productive, wasteful or degrading occupation, and with the redistribution, the re-training of skills.
  • The arts have been debased into the questionable function of some superfluous extravagance – I am thinking of music and the other arts in schools, and as the creative expression of what really distinguishes the human being from other creation. Singing, painting, fashioning, architecture, etc… are not economic concerns: they are essential human arts required, as play and discipline, from the earliest years, just as therapeutic knowledge which is used for the well-being of people and point to the desire to be mutually useful to each other.
  • Commissions on European travel and the movement of goods and people in the fastest, noiseless, vibrationless, most efficient and economical way possible would constitute the aims of yet another Commission serving our second House. – Switzerland is building a tunnel between Basel and Lugano on the principle of magnetic, frictionless propulsion invented by Braithwaite, an Englishman of my acquaintance.
  • Sub-cultures, a result for our particular societies, should be the subject of a Commission responsible for assessing and guiding the needs of an “unemployment” culture, a violent culture, a culture of ruthlessness, impatience, and superficiality.

A global restructuring

Certainly, no Parliament has as yet given itself the task of implementing measures which all our hearts, minds, our knowledge and determination to address these problems, except to mistake them largely for economic problems, on the assumption that a little more money will cure these evils. This approach will not succeed; only a second Parliament on a European scale might conceivably and successfully handle such essentially human matters.

We will have to call into question the practices of industry, of commerce, of agriculture, of defense, of values, beliefs, education, of government bureaucracy, of sheer size. We must equally cultivate a deep respect for serenity, for peace, the pursuit of knowledge, the exploration of hypotheses in all fields of human thought and experience.

I feel that if such a system, incorporating the twinned worlds of power and culture, had existed a few years ago, the tragedy of Yugoslavia might have been averted.

A stand against nationalism

The procedure I propose is, I believe, our protection against the danger of a new round of growing nationalism in Europe. Actually, the European Community is as much a return to all that bound us together in the past – the Judeo-Christian faiths, from ancient Israel, Rome, Byzantium – the Greek and the Roman civilizations, embracing our world from India to Iceland – our Renaissance, our languages, even our wars which, in a way, could be seen as civil wars.

Certainly, Latin and Greek were the European languages and should be reinstituted in schools. Only in Luxemburg are they still obligatory. In Europe until the rise of the nation-state, travel was unencumbered by passports; scholars, knowledge, fashion, styles were freely interchanged. Vienna was the centre of the two axes, East-West and North-South. England and Spain became the repositories of the richest assortment of assimilated civilizations in the world – in language, traditions, customs; in Spain embracing Mohammedan and African, in England, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norman.

What wealth, what knowledge, what beauty, binding us as much with pride as with guilt to Asia, India, and the peoples of the Americas!

My violin and my feelings

I have spoken from my heart, the heart of a European. I love the countries, the regions, the cultures of Europe, which I came to know at an early age. I adore their music, their literatures, their Nature, their people. As an American born of Russian-Crimean Jewish parents, I embrace the whole of Europe from both sides as well as from the Baltic to the Mediterranean.

At home and attached to every part of this most precious and treasured peninsula, and knowing it as well as my native America, I am not only formally British and Swiss but in addition informally and with all my heart a European.

These, alongside with that instrument of music, the violin, a key to the soul of every people, are my credentials.

Culture & Peace – Luxembourg, 11 January 1997

Yehudi Menuhin – Extract from Culture and peace (Concert pour une culture de paix et de bien-être, Luxembourg, 11 January 1997)


“The instantly brutal is invading the realms of cultivated and subtle expression. Our five senses are assailed with mortal effect—to quote the last words in Hamlet, (a massacre) “of course and fury signifying nothing”. Nothing is more revealing of the eternal truth of Shakespeare’s words.


On television, genocide, killing and torture, in our media a constant stream of degrading sensations, reports and gossip as against that never-never land of enticing advertisements where we learn the purity of purchased bliss. We suffer the noise of road drills or the forced feeding of music, deafening decibels at discotheques. These insults to our senses of hearing, smell and taste are brutalizing and are a symbol of the confrontation between human beings and their different needs. These divisions make ever less sense in a world ever more dependent on itself, and one in which each of us is dependent on so many other people and furthermore a world in which we instantly react to events all over the globe.


Yet we must ensure peace for each and for all. I will now speak of the conditions for such peace. Such peace must allow for the full unfolding of our talents, our gifts for self-expression, for otherwise they fester, ferment, rot and destroy. The societies we envisage must be bound by a sense of belonging to ever-widening concentric circles or spheres of common dependence and interests. Such societies must be as robust as they are subtle and must allow man, the religious animal, the full expression of his feeling and his faith in eternity and mystery of life in its oneness and in its diversity. He must live creatively, yet with profound respect for nature and the ways and freedoms of his co-habitors.


His formation must begin at the earliest age with the refinement of his senses, first and foremost the sense of hearing, of voices, of music, of memory, of surrounding space. Yet, even before, there must come in chronological order the sense of immediate touch, skin and tongue, the warm and protective, the caress and, of course inevitably, the unpleasant, hurtful or corrosive. Speech and music are but extension of the tactile as vibrations from beyond us set up vibrations on and in our ear drums, i.e. within ourselves. Our hearing, unlike our sight, which is directional and confrontational (subject v. object), is global and all-embracing. Our eyes should rest on the green of nature, on the sky, on the stars and the moon, on the seas in all their moods, on sources of sounds which occasion human reaction, protecting, comforting, meditating, but also frightening in small inoculative doses, whilst learning to defend ourselves, or to avoid, to intervene or to ignore. Writing and reading are visual skills which cannot really flower until listening, thought and speech are fully evolved.


The senses of fantasy and observation by singing, drawing, painting, reciting by composing poetry and music, by mime, by acting, the control of our body and its health by a knowledge of nutrition and training in various disciplines—yoga, Taichi, martial arts, paired with movement and dancing as with singing from the earliest moments possible—constitute a child’s world and are the basic formation which must precede the abstraction of reading, writing and calculation. The cultivation of thought and speech is far more important than of reading and writing because it is basic. Dreaming, talking, indeed even philosophizing, must precede abstract study.


The aural is more important than the written, however less advanced it may be in terms of recorded knowledge and wisdom. The aural represents, however, our accumulated wisdom and constitutes our separate cultures. We tend to spurn the aural in our civilizations and in civilizations which have evolved the aural to a very high degree of memory and social responsibility. But with the incredible advance of memory banks, computers capable of thinking in a manner, man’s and woman’s and a child’s inner world, inner life and integrity must be protected and encouraged. This is what I am attempting to achieve with the schools project MUS-E and with the project for the representation of cultures, as distinct from the political representations of nationalities. For this project to work it is essential that both the European Community and the Cultures recognized their respective reciprocal responsibilities. The Community as ‘Guardian of Cultures’ in the words of President Higgins, and the Cultures as supporters of the Community and of its functions. My very modest Foundation in Brussels, The International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, is engaged in these tasks to help guide our European Community towards a balanced harmony in which autonomous cultures would be represented and protected by the European Community whilst themselves supporting the Community. The “porteparles” would have to be individuals fulfilling four qualifications:


(a) the trust of their group,

(b) the unquestioned authority and knowledge of the subject under discussion,

(c) the ability to talk to an ‘enemy’

(d) of course no terrorist


Once a mission or task has been successfully accomplished, that person would be eligible for a five-year appointment to an Assembly of Cultures meeting twice a year.


We are intent on reviving and inspiring a genuine European conscience conceived in the image of what the integrated diversities of Europe have already brought the world—in music, language, in literature, in science, in parliaments, in democracy, in open-mindedness and in social conceptions in advance of many other parts of the world.


One of the most inspiring examples of man’s thought was the establishing of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It was conceived in London by a wonderful group of men of great vision—Julian Huxley, the great biologist, was its first President—and it was to be totally apolitical, the counter-part of the United Nations. I am glad to say that in the hands of Federico Mayor it is in a strengthened way fulfilling its original concept of bringing the world together in the recognition of our responsibilities and obligations in the realms of education, of art, of heritage in all forms, from music to ancient architecture, of relief to the destitute and abandoned children in the streets of Sao Paolo and to hundreds and hundreds of wonderful human and humane initiatives taken throughout the world. I continually regret that the United States and England following in dutiful echo renounced UNESCO some years ago and are still refusing to rejoin this great human global organization.


These thoughts occurred to me last Christmas Day. I feel humanity is passing through a very crucial time. We must all hope and pray for the triumph of good over evil, whilst recognizing that it is possible to transform the negative into positive energies. This dynamic and living state of peace will require as much courage, faith, philosophy, compassion, foresight, reasoning as ever did any war in the past.”