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Sonata Op. 27/5. Sonata for Violin & Piano…

Sonata Op. 27/5. Sonata for Violin & Piano after Locatelli. Mendelssohn:…

by Eugene Ysaÿe

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Eugene Ysaye - violinist, conductor and composer - was born in Brussels in 1858. He became the most famous violinist of his generation particularly in the French speaking world. The first winner of the Concours International Eugene Ysaye, initiated in Brussels in his memory in 1937, was David Oistrakh.

Ysaye's playing was described as magisterial, full-blooded and titanic although he could be lyrical and poetic when required. His most famous disciple in terms of sonority was Fritz Kreisler who always proclaimed him as the greatest of all violinists.

Following his tours of USA as a violinist he acquired a tenure as conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1918 and achieved fame in this new role. This was probably more because he had become afflicted with trembling hands which affected his phenomenal technique rather than a particular desire to start a new career.

His third career was as a composer in a post-romantic style although with a twentieth century technique. As a result, his violin sonatas have been seen by violinists as a test of skill and virtuosity and almost all of the great violinists of this century have played them.

Ysaye wrote six sonatas -- unaccompanied -- for six different colleagues, including Jacques Thibaud, Fritz Kreisler, and Josef Szigeti. Each expresses something particular about its dedicatee, and each is, in its way, a loving tribute to violin playing itself. The Sonata No. 2, for example, quotes from Bach's famous E-major partita.
  antimuzak | May 26, 2008 |
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