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Dictionary of World Biography
defeat at Adowa (1896). Thus fortified, Menelik
did much to modernise the administration and, by
skilful bargaining with European powers, increased
Ethiopia’s economic strength. His grandson, *Lij
Yasu, converted to Islam and was deposed (*Haile
Marcus, H., The Life and Times of Menelik II
of Ethiopia, 1844–1913. 1975.
Menem, Carlos Saul (1935– ). Argentinian
politician. Of Syrian descent, he became active in the
Peron Youth Group, graduated in law from Cordoba
University and worked for trade unions in the La Rioja
province. Governor of La Rioja 1973–76, 1983–89,
he was imprisoned and then sent into internal exile by
the military regime 1976–81. President of Argentina
1989–99, elected on the Peronista ticket, he amazed
his supporters by repudiating his party’s platform
and instituted rigorous economic reform. In 1994
the constitution was changed to allow for a second
presidential term (reduced to four years), and in
1995 Menem was re-elected, with 50 per cent of the
vote, retiring in 1999. In 2001 he was charged with
corruption over arms sales.
Mengelberg, (Josef ) Willem (1871–1951).
Dutch conductor. As conductor of the Amsterdam
Concertgebouw Orchestra 1895–1945 he raised this
ensemble to the first rank in Europe. His intensely
romantic interpretations of *Bach, *Beethoven,
*Tchaikovsky, *Mahler and Richard *Strauss were
successfully recorded. He was co-conductor of the
New York Philharmonic 1921–29. He collaborated
with the Germans during World War II and died in
Switzerland as an exile.
Menken, Adah Isaacs (Dolores Adios Fuertes)
(1835–1868). American actor and dancer. She created
a sensation in London when she appeared (1864)
bound and scantily clothed on a horse in a stage
version of *Byron’s Mazeppa. She was the ‘Dolores’ of
*Swinburne’s poem:
O splendid and sterile Dolores,
Our Lady of Pain.
Menno Simons (1492–1559). Dutch religious
leader. After the suppression of the Anabaptists he
organised the less fanatical remnants into a religious
group known as Mennonites. From Holland
and north Germany colonies were introduced by
*Catherine the Great into Russia, but when, in 1871,
their privileges, including exemption from military
service, were withdrawn, many emigrated to America
where colonies had been established from 1683.
Mennonites are more concerned with a Christian
life than with dogma. Among their tenets are adult
baptism and refusal to bear arms, to take oaths or to
serve in public office.
Dyck, C. J., A Legacy of Faith: The Heritage of Menno
Simons. 1962.
Menon, V. K. Krishna see Krishna Menon, V. K.
Menotti, Gian Carlo (191l-2007). Italian-American
composer, born in Cadegliano. After studying at the
Milan Conservatory, he emigrated to the US in 1927
and studied at the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia.
He composed and wrote the libretti for a number
of short incisive operas, e.g. The Consul (1950), an
effective treatment of a modern theme that achieved
great success, The Medium (1946), Amahl and the
Night Visitors (1951, first performed on television)
and The Saint of Bleecker Street (1955). He won the
Pulitzer Prize in 1950 and 1955.
Trecoire, R., Gian Carlo Menotti. 1966.
Menshikov, Aleksandr Danilovich, Prince (c.1660–
1729). Russian soldier and politician. The son of a
groom, he was a guardsman in attendance on *Peter
the Great and became his close friend and adviser.
He served with distinction against Sweden, and after
the victory of Poltava (1709) was made a field marshal.
On Peter’s death (1725) Menshikov placed his widow
*Catherine I (his own former mistress whom he had
introduced to the tsar) on the throne, and, during her
brief reign of two years, virtually ruled the kingdom.
His last days were spent in exile.
Menuhin, Yehudi, Baron Menuhin (1916–1999).
American-British violinist, born in New York. Of
Russian-Jewish parentage, he made his debut at seven.
His precocious talent was shared by his pianist sister
Hephzibah Menuhin (1922–1981). He developed
into a brilliant virtuoso and a thoughtful interpreter
of the concertos of *Bach, *Beethoven, *Brahms,
*Elgar and *Bartók. He toured the world with a
triumphant success for many years but lived mainly
in England, where he founded (1959) a music festival
at Bath. Naturalised British in 1985, he received the
OM in 1987, and a peerage in 1993.
Menzies, Sir Robert Gordon (1894–1978).
Australian Liberal politician, born in Jeparit, Victoria.
Educated at Melbourne University, he became a
barrister and KC (1929), served in the Victorian
Parliament 1928–34 and was Deputy Premier
1932–34. A member of the Commonwealth House
of Representatives 1934–66 and Attorney-General
1934–39, on the death of J. A. *Lyons he succeeded
as Leader of the United Australia Party and (after a
brief interregnum) Prime Minister 1939–41. Bitter
political divisions led to Menzies’ resignation, the
UAP broke up and he created a new anti-Labor
coalition, the Liberal Party, which he led 1944–66.
Prime Minister again 1949–66, for a record term,
he maintained a strong political commitment to the
British connexion and to closer economic and military
alliance with the US. His political dominance was
assisted by the split in the Labor Party over attitudes
towards Communism. A persuasive orator, he was