Ida Haendel was born in Chełm, a small city in Eastern Poland. She took up the violin at the age of three and as a seven-year-old was admitted at the Warsaw Conservatory. She later studied with Carl Flesch and George Enescu in Paris. During World War II she played in factories and for British and American troops. Her career developed after the end of World War II. Her autobiography, Woman with Violin, was published in 1970. She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1991. Haendel has lived primarily in Miami, Florida for many years and is actively involved with the Miami International Piano Festival.
She has the reputation of being as accomplished and brilliant a violinist as Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern.
Ida Haendel's recording of the Sibelius Concerto, with Paavo Berglund and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, is a highly acclaimed interpretation that garnered praise from Sibelius himself.
In 1948-49 she recorded Beethoven's Violin Concerto, with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. In 1993 she had her concert début with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Germany's female star virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter craves her opinions and Maxim Vengerov regards her with awe.
Other acclaimed recordings are her renditions of Brahms' Violin Concerto (including one with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergiu Celibidache) and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted Basil Cameron.
In June 2009 Haendel appeared on a Channel 4 television programme entitled The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies in which she advises 16 year old British composer Alexander Prior on which children to choose to play his composition.