Eugène Ysaÿe's Manuscripts

Belgian composer and violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe (1858- 1931) was born 158 years ago this Saturday. Those looking for manuscript sources for Ysaÿe should look no further than the Royal Library of Belgium (B-Br). The Fonds Eugène Ysaÿe contains 161 autograph manuscripts and 1,083 printed scores (by Ysaÿe as well as other composers), as well as other printed works, hundreds of autograph letters, sound recordings, images, and film reels. A virtual exhibition was made in 2008.

The newest addition to the collection arrived in 2014, when the Royal Library acquired the autograph manuscript of Légende norvégienne. This work had previously been completely unknown and is not listed in the composer's works list in Grove Music Online. Written in 1882 when the composer was touring in Norway, Légende norvégienne was premiered just two days after the date on the manuscript. While in Norway, Ysaÿe met Edvard Grieg. This past April, the Edvard Grieg Museum organized the first performance of the piece in Bergen since Ysaÿe played it himself there 134 years ago.

The RISM online catalog currently has just one piece by Ysaÿe, an autograph score of Poème élégiaque dedicated to Gabriel Fauré (RISM ID no. 700011088). RISM Belgium is working on adding more from the Fonds Eugène Ysaÿe.

Another significant collection is the Eugène Ysaÿe Collection at The Juilliard School in New York (US-NYj), which holds autograph manuscripts for solo violin sonatas no. 2, 3, and 6.

: Bust of Eugène Ysaÿe in his birthplace Liège, by Olnnu, via Wikimedia Commons.




Category: New at RISM, Library collections

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