The Kennedy Center

Sonata for Solo Violin in E major, Op. 27, No. 6

About the Work

Eugène Ysaÿe Composer: Eugène Ysaÿe
© Augustin Hadelich

In 1923 the Belgian virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe was nearing the end of his career. Inspired by Bach's six sonatas and partitas (which form the core of the solo violin repertoire) he set out to write six of his own solo sonatas, each dedicated to another great violinist of his time. After dedicating the first five to Joseph Szigeti, Jacques Thibaud, George Enescu, Fritz Kreisler and Mathieu Crickboom, he dedicated the sixth and final sonata to Manuel Quiroga, one of the greatest Spanish violinists of the 20th century. Perhaps Ysaÿe's most technically challenging sonata, it is cast in one single rhapsodic movement and is very much an homage to Spanish music and to Quiroga's passionate and dramatic playing style. After many displays of virtuosity and improvisatory detours, the music comes to a stop, and a charming and seductive habanera dance emerges from the silence. After the dramatic opening returns, the fireworks quickly build towards a heroic ending.