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The Six Sonatas for Unaccompanied Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe: A study in dedication and interpretation

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posted on 16.11.2021, 01:39 by Yang, Manshan

Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) was one of the most prominent violin virtuosos from the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century. As a composer, his Six Sonatas for Unaccompanied Violin, Op. 27, composed in 1924, are amongst his most creative and significant contributions to the solo violin repertoire. Each sonata was dedicated to a different virtuoso violinist and is composed to represent the different performing style of each violinist.  Among the research related to Ysaÿe’s solo sonatas, there is no detailed performance analysis of the works. Although instructions in Ysaÿe’s solo sonatas are marked carefully in terms of tempo, bowings, bow strokes, fingerings, string choices, dynamics, and characters, the existing recordings show a variety of approaches regarding these elements. Therefore, this exegesis investigates the sonatas through the comparative analysis of six selected recordings of the composer’s students or their own students, and performers with no direct pedagogical lineage to the composer. The study explores whether performances recorded by the violinists who have a pedagogical connection to the composer provide useful sources that are not found in the music, and also examines how and why different musical decisions were made and offers my point of view as a performer as well.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Music Performance

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure Basic Research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Riseley, Martin; Maurice, Donald