APM: Composers Datebook

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Jul 15, 2017 Today we note the birthday of a remarkable composer, conductor and virtuoso violinist: Eugéne Ysaÿe, who was born in Liége, Belgium, on today's date in 1858. After studies with two of the most famous violin composers of his day, Henyrk Wieniawski of Poland and his Belgian compatriot, Henri Vieuxtemps, Ysaÿe soon was touring Europe and Russia as a star performer himself. In 1886, when the 28-year old Ysaÿe married, the great Belgian composer Cesar Franck presented the young couple with his Violin Sonata in A Major as a wedding present. That same year, Ysaÿe founded a famous string quartet, and in 1893 it was the Ysaÿe Quartet that gave the premiere performance of Claude Debussy's String Quartet, a work its composer dedicated to the ensemble in admiration. In 1918, Ysaye made his American debut as a conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony, and made such a great impression there that he remained as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony from 1918 to 1922. As a composer, Ysaye wrote eight concertos and a set of six solo sonatas for the violin. In 1928, at the age of 70, the patriotic Belgian began work on an opera titled "Peter the Miner" to a libretto in his native Walloon language, and was at work on a second opera when he died at the age of 72, in 1931. In 1937, Queen Elizabeth of Belgium inaugurated the annual Eugene Ysaÿe International Prize for promising young violinists.

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