I remember when I first saw the music for Eugene Ysaÿe’s Six Sonatas for Solo Violin (see example below). The first thought that went through my head was, “How in the world am I supposed to even begin to decipher this?!” Fortunately, having grown up a Suzuki student, I knew to find a good recording and learn to sing the piece all the way through in my head before even trying to study the music.
Ysaÿe was a violinist of the highest quality, having been fortunate enough to study with Henryk Weiniawski and Henri Vieuxtemps – both violinists extraordinaire themselves and also both composers of fantastic violin concertos and other superb works for the violin. His goal in writing his Sonatas (of which there are 6) was to provide for the 1900s what Bach’s 6 Sonatas & Partitas had provided to the 1700s – that is, a work representative of the culmination of violin technique to that time.
Being relatively modern in their composition, Ysaÿse’s Sonatas are likely somewhat strange to your ears. However, their is a particular beauty to them, particularly when played by the likes of Augustin Hadelich. Listen all the way to the end!