Guillaume Lekeu

Sep 25, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

We know that Mozart, Schubert, and Mendelssohn all died way too young. Mozart at thirty-five, Schubert at thirty-one, Mendelssohn at thirty-eight. But all three left us many masterpieces, and luckily we can concentrate on what was, rather than on what might have been. 

The Belgian composer Guillaume Lekeu—L-E-K-E-U—was just twenty-two when he wrote a violin sonata for his countryman Eugène Ysaÿe, and that sonata became a favorite of many of the 20th century’s greatest violinists. Lekeu composed a number of other chamber works, most when he was a teenager, and he left behind two movements of a spectacularly beautiful piano quartet. The third movement, he never lived to write. Born on January 20th, in 1870, Guillaume Lekeu died on January twenty-first, 1894, one day after his 24th birthday. And we’ll always have to wonder what might have been.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.