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Yehudi Menuhin’s favourite photographer

David Farrell walked through our door to show his photographs one day about ten years ago. It soon became clear that he also wanted to discuss my novel, The Song of Names, newly published at the time.

Song of Names

‘How did you know what went on in Carl Flesch’s violin classes before the War?’ he asked.

I explained that I had met Flesch’s son, also named Carl, as well as two or three other ex-pupils.

‘I was one of them,’ said David. ‘I was never good enough to be a Flesch student, but he let me sit in and observe.’

David, who died on January 3rd aged 93, went on to recount precious memories of a place and time in West Hampstead where future virtuosos were bred. He had memories of sheltering from the Blitz in St John’s Wood Station together with the short-lived Joseph Hasid. He knew Ginette Neveu and Ida Haendel.

David went into Bomber Command during the war, flying missions over Germany He came out with an eye for photography, finding work in the music industry and in print media.

In 1955 he was commissioned for a session with Yehudi Menuhin and emerged a lifelong friend. Over the next 30 years, he photographed many of the world’s leading musicians in action, as well as England’s foremost actors and dancers. He liked to tell that he was present the night that Margot Fonteyn, deeply involved with Rudolf Nureyev and dancing at Menuhin’s Bath Festival, was told that her husband had been shot in Panama.

menuhin fonteyn nureyev

photo (c) David Farrell/Lebrecht Music&Arts

He also took early sessions of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones performing 1962-3 photo (c) David Farrell/Lebrecht Music&Arts

David is survived by his wife Manning, whom he married in 1942, by two of his three sons, and by two daughters. He was a gentle man, with a ready smile and a passion for music that remained fresh to the end.

Thackeray David Farrell, photographer, born 28 August 1919, died 3 January 2013


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  1. David was indeed a wonderful photographer and produced many excellent portraits of Yehudi Menuhin. Thank you for sharing the picture with Margot Fonteyn and Nureyev!

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