Ysaye, Eugene



With the death of Joachim, this Belgian musician becomes the greatest living violinist. He was born at Liege, where his father was a conductor and violinist, and he first studied under his father and at the conservatory of his native town, also receiving instruction from the famous Polish violinist, Wieniawski, in Brussels. Vieuxtemps, who heard him at a concert in Antwerp, persuaded the government of Belgium to give him a stipend which would enable him to pursue his studies in Paris. There he became the pupil of Massart, who had taught Wienawski. Ysaye was Franz Kneisel's predecessor as leader of Benjamin Bilse's famous orchestra in Berlin, which position he resigned in 1881 upon the completion of his studies at the Paris Conservatory and started upon a series of concert tours. During the latter part of Vieuxtemps' life, when he was in Algiers, he often longed to hear Ysaye play and when he died, Ysaye carried, in the funeral procession, his violin and bow on a black velvet cushion fringed with silver. In 1886 he was appointed professor and director of the violin department of the Brussels Conservatory and shortly afterwards organized the famous Ysaye Quartet. He ..as made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1893 and is the possessor of many decorations and honors. In 1889 he made his first London tour, since which time he has been a frequent visitor there, of later years going annually. His first appearance in this country was with the Philharmonic Society of New York in 1894, when he captivated his audiences and was recognized as one of the greatest violinists who had visited this country in many years. His next tour of the United States was in 1898. The year following he gained new honors in Berlin when he played Bach's E major concerto as soloist of the tenth Nikisch Philharmonic concert. The audience went wild with enthusiasm and he was recalled fifteen times. Ysaye is almost as noted as a conductor, the last few years his orchestral concerts at Brussels being quite a feature in the city. He has proved himself to be a good manager as they have been successful financially as well as artistically. He has written six violin concertos, variations on a theme by Paganini, three mazurkas for violin  ind a Poeme filegiaque for violin with orchestra. Ysaye is a large and powerful man and though his playing shows strength it is characterized by exquisite delicacy. He has mastered phrasing and has a remarkably perfect technique, but above all he captures and fascinates his hearers with those choicest of gifts, musical feeling and temperament.