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