Eugene Ysaÿe, (1858-1931) was a Belgian violinist, composer and conductor. Born in Liège, Belgium, Ysaÿe began violin lessons at age four, and studied with Joseph Massart, Henryk Wieniawski, and Henri Vieuxtemps.
After graduation, Ysaÿe was the principal violin of the Fruhere Bilsesche Kapelle, which later developed into the Berlin Philharmonic. Many musicians of note and influence came regularly to hear this orchestra and Ysaÿe in particular, among whom figured Joseph Joachim, Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann, and Anton Rubinstein.
When Ysaÿe was twenty-seven years old, he was recommended as a soloist for L'Orchestre Colonne, which was the start of his great success as a concert artist. In 1886, Ysaÿe received a professorship at the Brussels Conservatory. Among his pupils were Josef Gingold, the violist William Primrose, Nathan Milstein, Louis Persinger, Alberto Bachmann, and Mathieu Crickboom.
Ysaÿe continued to tour including, Russia, and the United States, despite health concerns, particularly regarding the condition of his hands. Ysaÿe was at his best when performing, and many prominent composers dedicated major works to him, including Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-Saens, Cesar Franck, and Ernest Chausson.
Among his most famous works are six solo violin sonatas, Op. 27, offered in this lot.
Ysaÿe had been offered the post of music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1898, but declined it due to his busy solo performance schedule. In 1918 he accepted the music director's position with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where he remained until 1922.
Finally, in 1931, suffering from the extremes of diabetes , Eugéne Ysaÿe died. His last wish was to set up an international music competition for young virtuosi showcasing their all-round skill. Elisabeth, Queen of the Belgians, (1876-1965), a good friend of Ysaÿe, set up a competition in his memory in 1937 and in 1951, this became the violin section of the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition.