Fiddle and beau: Nicola Benedetti with her new love

THEY have been friends since they studied music together at the famous Yehudi Menuhin music school.

And classical music superstar Nicola Benedetti has found now love with her long-term friend and onstage partner, German cellist Leonard Elschenbroich.

The pair toured Scotland together earlier this year, with Ayrshire-born Benedetti asking her long-term musical collaborator to join her for a series of intimate concerns.

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As The Scotsman's photograph at one of their Scottish recitals shows, the pair enjoyed a remarkable chemistry during the tour, headlined Nicola Benedetti and Friends.

Now it appears that Ms Benedetti, who always claimed she was too busy for romance, and Mr Elsenbroich, 24, enjoy more than just a musical connection. According to reports they have been in a long-term relationship for the last three years.

The violinist's father, businessman Gio Benedetti, was reported to have confirmed the romantic attachment yesterday.

He said: "He is a very nice man who flies all over the world playing his cello and they're very happy together.

"I don't really want to say any more or I'll get into trouble. But the father does approve."

It is understood that the 23-year-old Scot has been dating the Frankfurt-born cellist for three years. The relationship was not publicised to protect their privacy.

Now the relationship has gone up a notch, with Ms Benedetti introducing her new partner, whose father is from Italy, to her family.

The last year has seen international best-seller Ms Benedetti spend more time in Scotland.

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As well as main season appearances with all three national Scottish orchestras, Ms Benedetti has played at the St Magnus and Perth Festivals.

Further to her appearance with the BBC SSO in Dundee's Last Night of the Proms, she rounded off her "Fantasie" chamber music tour of Scotland at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh alongside cellist Mr Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk.

During the tour, she told The Scotsman how the opportunity to share such a platform with her "musical friends" was invaluable in her quest to bring more stability to her life.

Speaking of her admiration for German cellist Mr Elschenbroich she said: "Leonard did the same as me and left the Menuhin School at 15.He remained my No 1 favourite cellist, so I got in touch a few years ago to see if he would be interested in playing through some chamber music."

On her new musical partners, she added: "Apart from anything else, it's just so nice to be doing things with people you like, and to enjoy their company."

Ms Benedetti was born in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire to an Italian father and a Scottish mother. She started to learn the violin at the age of four. By the age of nine, she had already passed the eight grades of musical examinations, and in September 1997 began to study at the Yehudi Menuhin School for young musicians under Lord Menuhin and Natasha Boyarskaya. Aged 16, Ms Benedetti won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.