1858 – 1931
Mostly in: Liège, Berlin, Paris, Brussels
Best Known For:S ix sonatas for solo violin, sonata for cello, sonata for two violins
Similar To: F ranck, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Chausson
E ugène Ysaÿe broke the 19th-century Romantic virtuoso mould with a unique fusion of sleight-of-hand technique and profound musicianship. A larger-than-life character in every respect, he mesmerised audiences with his devil-may-care spontaneity, which extended to changing fingerings and bowings as the mood inspired him in mid-performance. There was something of the subversive renegade about him – he could run temporal rings around insensitive conductors – yet he excelled at whatever he turned his hand to.
Ysaÿe’s impact as a teacher was incalculable. His pupils included Louis Persinger (Yehudi Menuhin’s first major tutor), Joshua Bell’s mentor Josef Gingold, composer Ernest Bloch and Nathan Milstein. Carl Flesch – whose pupils included...