After having heard Joseph Szigeti perform Johann Sebastian Bach's sonata for solo violin in G minor, Ysa˙e was inspired to compose violin works that represent the evolution of musical techniques and expressions of his time. As Ysa˙e claimed, "I have played everything from Bach to Debussy, for real art should be international." In this set of sonatas, he used prominent characteristics of early 20th century music, such as whole tone scales, dissonances, and quarter tones. Ysa˙e also employed virtuoso bow and left hand techniques throughout, for he believed that "at the present day the tools of violin mastery, of expression, technique, mechanism, are far more than necessary than in days gone by. In fact they are indispensable, if the spirit is to express itself without restraint." Thus, this set of sonatas places high technical demands on its performers. Yet Ysa˙e recurrently warns violinists that they should never forget to sing instead of becoming preoccupied with technical elements; a violin master "must be a violinist, a thinker, a poet, a human being, he must have known hope, love, passion and despair, he must have run the gamut of the emotions in order to express them all in his playing.
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