Eugène Ysaÿe (1858–1931)
Sonata No. 6 for Solo Violin
by Elbert Tsai
Eugène Ysaÿe was one of the great violinists of his era, bridging the gap from the romantic virtuosos Wieniawski and Vieuxtemps (both his teachers) to early twentieth-century composers such as Franck and Debussy, who thought highly enough of him to dedicate significant works in his honor. Aside from touring as a concert violinist, Ysaÿe was also a notable conductor and distinguished teacher, counting among his pupils Nathan Millstein, Josef Gingold, Oscar Shumsky, and the violist William Primrose.
His six sonatas for unaccompanied violin are clearly inspired by Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas, with each sonata taking on the specific style of a contemporary violinist at the time. The sixth sonata is dedicated to Manuel Quiroga, and fittingly exhibits a bright and flashy character with Spanish flair.