June 20, 2007 at 02:46 PM · I am curious to know what violin players think of Ysaye in general. Below you'll find some sample questions but you may add any other thoughts.

At which age did you hear first of Ysaye?

Does he have any special meaning in a violinists life?

What do you think of his compositions?

Do you think his music is well enough represented on the concert stage?

Cheers! A.P.

Replies (20)

June 20, 2007 at 05:08 PM · Hi,

Ysaÿe was a monumental figure in the history of violin playing (physically too, I might add...)

In anwer to your questions...

At which age did you hear first of Ysaye?

I was about ten years old when I first read about him. Heard some early remakes of his recordings on LP while in my teens.

Does he have any special meaning in a violinists life?

He does in mine in many ways. He was the teacher of my teacher's teacher, so therefore my violinistic great-grandfather. Plus, the sonatas were the topic of my doctoral document, so I came to him, his letters, his life and his works quite well. Luckily for me, I just finally got a hold of a used copy of his recordings (as a gift)!

What do you think of his compositions?

Terrific and underrated. However, it is good to bear in mind that over 50 works were composed for or with him in mind. Thus, he was an insipiring influence at the turn of the 20th century leading to many important works.

As a composer, he was highly imaginative as the sonatas testify to. The Poème Élégiaque, not so often played, is a great work.

Do you think his music is well enough represented on the concert stage?

Much more so in the last decade, especially the solo sonatas. But overall, not enough in my opinion. Furtunately, they have been the subject of much reasearch in the last 5 years or so, and scholarship is finally catching up. That said, I still wish that more people explored his works other than just the "Ballade" (solo sonata no. 3)


June 21, 2007 at 03:58 AM · Salut Christian,

Superbement dit, merci.

For French, Ysaye is very very special!

June 21, 2007 at 01:55 PM · Je trouve que Christian et Celine ont tout dit...!

But I'll add a few more thoughts:

1) there was a lengthy thread back in 2004 on v.com devoted to the Ysaye solo sonatas, which includes a VERY detailed evaluation of nearly all available recordings (from Mattias Eklund). It is fun to read...


2) I adore Ysaye's solo sonatas but am relatively unfamiliar with his other work, as I imagine are most who have not studied Ysaye in a scholarly way. I agree with Christian that his work remains underplayed, which is a pity considering what to me is his great originality, intensity and complexity.

My personal favorites are sonatas 2, 3 and 4. The "Obsession" is brilliant and a wonderful tribute to Thibaud, who apparently used the Bach E Major Praeludio to warm up. I wonder if anyone has performed the two back to back in recital...?...that could be fun!

I have the Mordkovitch recording of the sonatas, which is ok but has some weaknesses in intonation. However, a friend recently loaned me the KREMER recording which was magnificent. I listened to it for weeks until my friend finally asked for it back...

June 21, 2007 at 01:51 PM · Did Oistrakh record more than just #3?

June 21, 2007 at 01:56 PM · Yeeks, you are right it was Kremer...early alzheimer's or too little sleep, I guess.

We have been swapping a lot of Oistrakh recordings lately, so I got carried away.

June 21, 2007 at 03:02 PM · I first heard the Ysaye 5th sonata when i was around 15. I remember being taken back by its rhapsodic character and imaginative writing. I feel that Ysaye should be taken as seriously as Paganini as many of Ysaye works are not played. The ysaye sonatas are like an addendum to the Bach Sonatas. These pieces are not played enough, with the exception of the Ballade and other works like the Poeme should be performed. I feel that six sonata, even though with its brilliant introduction, lacks cohesiveness, but i love the rest of the sonatas. I, like Christian, have some "ties" to Ysaye. One of my teachers was a student of Gingold (who was Ysaye's pupil and premiered the Ballade) and I wish Mr. Brodsky lived longer because he actually studied with Ysaye. Ysaye represented a new style of violin playing that would resonate to this very day.

June 21, 2007 at 03:26 PM · imslp.org has Extase Op. 21 for free downloading. The Solo Sonatas are also there.

June 21, 2007 at 03:31 PM · From: Skowronski: Classical Recordings

To: Kevin Jang, et al!

Dear Kevin: We amicably invite you to try our critically acclaimed CD offerings of three (3) of the YSAYE SOLO SONATAS:

#1 at-- www.cdbaby.com/cd/skowronski3

#2 & #5 at-- www.cdbaby.com/cd/skowronski4

Clips of the above are available, of course.

You can check out our current discography at:


We are also in the midst of celebrating Mr. Skowronski's participation in the IV Int'l Tchaikovsky Competition whilst XIII is presently in progress.

Best to everyone.

Skowronski: Classical Recordings

June 21, 2007 at 03:50 PM ·

June 21, 2007 at 05:20 PM · On a search of Ysaÿe you will find 329 hits on Violinist.com

Kenny Choy and I have prepared a chart listing 56 works by Ysaÿe.

This gives the instrumentation, publisher and current in print status, as far as we can find.

Members are welcome to send a private reply and we will send you the excel attachment.

~ Proof Purr-fect Research ~

Clinton F. Nieweg

(Research for Conductors, Librarians, Musicians)

Proofferr (at) yahoo (dot) com

June 21, 2007 at 06:37 PM · I forgot to mention that I feel that Ysaye's music has a poetic spirituality that we as violin's can explore on an artistic and violinistic level.

June 22, 2007 at 12:52 AM · Hi everyone

Christian and all the others, thank you for the input on Ysaye.

I got interested in Ysaye when I listened to a recital of Ray Iwazumi. In the program notes it was mentioned that he wrote his Ph.d. dissertation on Ysayes sonatas. So for any violinist who wants to dive deeper into the material I recommend to contact him on his website.

Barabara mentioned the recording of Kremer. I would like to add that there is another superb recording by Frank Peter Zimmermann. I listened to both (Kremer and Zimmermannn) and despite my admiration for Kremer I find the recording of Zimmermann more convincing. ITs didfficult to put in words and I'd say it gives me more kick. I am now waiting that Ray I wazumi puts his version out. He really deserves some attention.

For anybody interested in Oistrach recordings I recommend to google 'oistrach discography' and you'll find a very meticulously compiled discography.


June 24, 2007 at 04:37 PM · I had an idea a long time ago to write a fictional biography based on his life. Over the decades, the idea has morphed into something else I'm currently working on that is very different.

However, long ago, I concluded that even among the greatest of violinists, there are an elite few whose ability to project a unique voice can get under your skin and invade your very soul. Ysaye was one of those, and his muse is reflected in the music he composed, whatever his shortcomings as a composer.

June 24, 2007 at 04:47 PM · I associate the idea of a "buffer country"

June 24, 2007 at 07:24 PM · what do violinists associate with this name?


June 24, 2007 at 08:27 PM · Music that sounds like the drawings of old flemish masters look. The conclusion of a virtuoso's life. Unbelievable imagination, so many colors.

Bach fanatic. Probably a genius... Even the name is so beautiful :)

June 25, 2007 at 12:33 PM · I've never had the certainty of how to actually pronounce his name. Mostly I've heard it pronounced "eee-sigh" (with the "s" in "sigh" pronounced like a "z"). At a meeting I met a guy from Belgium who knew little about classical music. I showed him the name and asked him how it should actually be pronounced. He never heard of Ysaye, but as a native-speaking Belgian he wasn't even sure how it should be pronounced.

THEREFORE, when you ask what the name itself conjures up, my response is....Which name?

I know what the name "Wagner" conjures up - a happy dog.

:) Sandy

June 25, 2007 at 01:47 PM · It's pronounced "Ezaaee" :) French (belgian) names have weird pronunciation rules, so please correct me if you know better, but I'm pretty sure.

June 25, 2007 at 02:34 PM · Simon: Thank you. I've certainly heard it pronounced that way, too, but glad to have a definitive opinion on it.

Have a great day.

:) Sandy

June 25, 2007 at 08:10 PM · I fist heard of Ysaye from my first violin teacher who was a student of diRibopierre who was the 2nd fiddle of the Ysaye Quartet.

I first heard the recordings 3 years ago--his Mendelssohn last movement is like a force of nature.

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