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Eugene Ysaye

 Violinist and Composer(1858-1931)

Eugène Ysaÿe was born into a musical family in Liège. His father began giving him violin lessons aged four, and he went on to study under Massart, Wieniawski and Vieuxtemps, who gave him a thorough grounding in the Franco-Belgian virtuoso style. After finishing his studies, Ysaÿe joined Benjamin Bilse’s orchestra (that would become the Berlin Philharmonic) and played with many famous soloists, including the pianist Artur Rubenstein who seconded the young violinist to accompany him on a concert tour. Ysaÿe’s first appearance as a soloist, aged 27 in Paris was a huge success, and he was appointed Professor of Violin at the Brussels Conservatory the following year, a post he held until 1898. His pupils included Josef Gingold, William Primrose, Nathan Milstein and Jascha Brodsky. Ysaÿe’s fame as a soloist became world-wide and he went on regular concert tours. he was the dedicatee of several works by Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Franck and Chausson He founded the Ysaÿe Quartet in 1886, which premièred Debussy’s String Quartet. His failing health, and problems with his hands meant that Ysaÿe turned to composition in later life: his works include six Sonatas for Solo Violin op. 27, the unaccompanied Sonata for cello, op 28, one Sonata for Two Violins, eight Poèmes for various instruments (one or two violins, violin and cello, string quartet) and orchestra (Poème élégiaque, Poème de l'Extase, Chant d'hiver, Poème nocturne, among others), pieces for string orchestra without basses (including Poème de l'Exil), two string trios, a quintet, and an opera, Peter the Miner, written near the end of his life in the Walloon dialect.

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