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YMCA. The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) began in mid19th-century England.... (cont’d on pg. 982)
The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky Contents Introduction, Foreword, Acknowledgments and Guide for Readers Chapters: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, Z Index, Bibliography, Illustration Credits
Edited by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool THE UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY Republished for the World Wide Web by NKY.com and Enquirer Media
A Project of the Thomas D. Clark Foundation, Inc. Mark A. Neikirk, President Sherry Jelsma, Vice President
Dave Adkisson, Treasurer Melanie J. Kilpatrick, Secretary
Thomas R. Brumley, Immediate Past President Michael J. Hammons, Past President
Dave Adkisson, Frankfort Jane Beshear, Frankfort Thomas R. Brumley, Lexington John S. Carroll, Lexington Sara W. Combs, Stanton
Board of Directors Michael J. Hammons, Park Hills Sherry Jelsma, Shelbyville Martha C. Johnson, Melbourne Mark A. Neikirk, Highland Heights Alice Stevens Sparks, Crescent Springs
Robert Ted Steinbock, Louisville Mrya Leigh Tobin, New York City James M. Wiseman, Erlanger
Editorial Staff Editors in Chief: Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool Associate Editors: David Hatter, John Schlipp, David E. Schroeder, Robert Stevie, Michael R. Sweeney, John W. Thieret (deceased), Thomas S. Ward, Jack Wessling Topical Editors: Agriculture: Lynn David & James Wallace; Art: Rebecca Bilbo; Biography: Michael R. Sweeney; Business & Commerce: John Boh; Counties & Towns: David E. Schroeder; Ethnology: Theodore H. H. Harris; Government, Law, & Politics: John Schlipp; Literature: Danny Miller (Deceased); Medicine: Dennis B. Worthen; Military: James A. Ramage; Music, Media, & Entertainment: John Schlipp; Religion: Thomas S. Ward & Alex Hyrcza; Sports & Recreation: James C. Claypool; Transportation Joseph F. Gastright (Deceased); Women: Karen Mcdaniel. Maps: Jeff Levy at the Gyula Pauer Center for Cartography & GIS, University of Kentucky. Copyright © 2009 by The University Press of Kentucky, 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008 www.kentuckypress.com. Print editions: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The Encyclopedia of northern Kentucky / edited by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool. p. cm. ISBN 978-0-8131-2565-7 (hardcover : acid-free paper) ISBN 978-0-8131-2585-5 (limited leather edition) 1. Kentucky, Northern— Encyclopedias. 2. Kentucky— Encyclopedias. I. Tenkotte, Paul A. II. Claypool, James C. F451.E55 2009 976.9'3003—dc22 2009027969
YAGER, WARD (b. July 2, 1891, Oldham Co., Ky.; d. February 24, 1967, Warsaw, Ky.). Judge Ward Yager, the son of J. B. and Elizabeth Alma Yager, became the judge of the former 15th Judicial District for the Commonwealth of Kentucky; his circuit was composed of Gallatin, Grant, Boone, Carroll, and Owen counties. He served for 28 years in that capacity, having previously been a commonwealth attorney in the circuit for 12 years. During his tenure as judge, he presided over the wellpublicized Joan Kiger murder trial in 1943, and in 1949 he conducted the recount of the Boone Co. attorney election race between William McEvoy and John Crigler. After the recount, McEvoy won by 8 votes rather than the 13 votes shown by the original count. In January 1956, Yager suffered a heart attack, but he was able to return to the bench October 1 of that year. He died in 1967 from another heart attack. His wife, the former Ruth Graham of Gallatin Co., had died in January 1967, and he was buried next to her at the Warsaw Cemetery. Boone County Recorder, historical ed., September 4, 1930. “Judge Yager, 75, Is Heart Victim,” KP, February 25, 1967, 1K. Reis, Jim. “Recounts Also Figure in Two Other Counts,” KP, January 22, 2001, 4K. “Return to Bench Planned by Yager,” KTS, September 11, 1956, 4A.
YANCEY, EVAN WHITE, REAR ADMIRAL (b. August 21, 1907, Owen Co., Ky.; d. October 30, 1980, Pompano Beach, Fla.). Naval officer Evan W. Yancey was the son of W. Lindsay and Sherfy Bette Yancey of Owen Co., Ky. After graduating from Owenton High School, Yancey enrolled at Georgetown College in Scott Co., Ky., and studied there for three semesters. He secured an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., where he graduated in 1931. In 1934 he married Marguerite Ziegler Davis. Yancey began his naval career aboard the USS Tattnall and subsequently served at sea on four other ships. In 1939 he was promoted to lieutenant and briefly worked stateside as the assistant ordnance officer at the Brooklyn Navy shipyard in New York. In 1940 he began a tour of duty as the executive officer of the USS Clemson, an old World War I destroyer that was being used to transport gasoline to seaplanes in the Caribbean. When World War II broke out, the aging vessel was outfitted with antisubmarine gear and put to work. Yancey assumed command of the Clemson, escorting the USS Bogue throughout the Atlantic on antisubmarine missions for almost two years. Yancey developed a method for using the Clem-
son’s Fathometer (a sonic depth finder) to gauge the depth of the enemy subs below. This information enabled the Bogue to set its depth charges more precisely. As a result Yancey and his crew achieved more hits and ultimately received a Presidential Unit Citation “for extraordinary heroism in action against enemy submarines in the Atlantic area.” After the war Yancey’s naval career took some interesting turns. He spent three years as chief of the U.S. Naval Mission in Ecuador, where he facilitated emergency airlifts of food supplies to civilians. He commanded the USS Everglades from July 1953 to June 1955, and that ship was awarded the navy’s Battle Efficiency Plaque during his tenure. Following his successful stint on the Everglades, Yancey became inspector of naval material and attained the rank of rear admiral while serving in that capacity. Yancey retired in July 1957, and he and his wife moved to Deerfield Beach, Fla. He died in 1980 at the Pinehurst Nursing Home and was cremated; his wife died in 1981. In addition to his Presidential Unit Citation, Yancey was awarded the Legion of Merit by President Roosevelt. He also received the American Defense, National Defense, and World War II Victory medals. “Evan White Yancey ’31,” Shipmate Magazine, March 1981, obituary section, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Archives, Annapolis, Md. Florida Death Certificate No. 80993, for the year 1980. Houchens, Marian Sidebottom. History of Owen County: “Sweet Owen.” Louisville, Ky.: Standard, 1976. Taul, Glen, Georgetown College archivist. Interview by Deborah Diersen Crocker, September 15, 2006, Georgetown, Ky.
Deborah Diersen Crocker
YANCEY, JESSIE O. (b. October 13, 1877, Maysville, Ky.; d. September 1, 1960, Lexington, Ky.). Jessie Yancey, the daughter of William Harrison and Rebecca Bell Oridge Yancey, was privately taught, yet she became a teacher in Mason Co. at many of the old one-room schools. Yancey was the first woman elected to public office in Mason Co., although at the time women could not vote: she became the first woman superintendent of schools in Mason Co., serving two terms (1910–1918). She was mostly associated with the Mayslick School, where she instituted a transportation system for the new consolidated Mayslick school in 1909. The provision of transportation precluded any excuses for students who used to say that they could not get to the more distant consolidated school. In 1918 Yancey moved to Lexington and worked for the Kentucky Health and Welfare League and later the Fayette Co. schools. She was interested in health issues, recognizing that students needed to be healthy to be able to learn. It was only in later life that she ever attended a college class, long after she had run the school system in Mason Co. Yancey knew that success in school was a function of being present to learn, and in 1940 in Lexington she headed a committee to address that issue. Yancey was a cousin of Rebekah Hord, mayor of Maysville, the first woman mayor in Kentucky. Yancey, an Epis-
copalian, died at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington in 1960 and was buried at the Maysville Cemetery. “Juvenile Delinquency,” Lexington Leader, March 4, 1940, 13. Mason Co. Schools, Vertical File, Mason Co. Museum, Maysville, Ky. “Miss Jessie O. Yancey Passes in Lexington,” Maysville Daily Independent, September 8, 1960, 1.
YANCEY, RENA LUSBY (b. 1888, Owen Co., Ky.; d. July 12, 1964, Owenton, Ky.). Rena B. Lusby Yancey was an Owen Co. poet. In 1908 she married C. W. “Court” Yancey, an Owen Co. farmer. They lived near Poplar Grove, in the northeastern part of the county. She published a book of 69 poems entitled Kentucky Trails, in which she salutes all that God has created—nature and her family members. She was a member of the Poplar Grove Baptist Church, and she spent her entire life in Owen Co. Yancey was an associate of the Ten-Mile Baptist Association’s Women’s Missionary Society. She died at the Owen Co. Memorial Hospital (see New Horizons Medical Center) in 1964 after a long illness and was buried next to her husband at the Squiresville Cemetery along Ky. Rt. 1982. “Mrs. Rena Yancey,” KP, April 14, 1964, 7K. USGenWeb Archives. “Squiresville Cemetery Records,” Owen Co., Ky. Rootsweb.com. www.rootsweb .com. Yancey, Rena Lusby. Kentucky Trails. Owenton, Ky.: Self-published, 1957.
YATES, RICHARD (b. January 18, 1815, Gallatin Co., Ky.; d. November 12, 1873, St. Louis, Mo.). Richard Yates, a legislator and a governor of Illinois, was the son of Henry and Millicent Yates, two of the earliest settlers of Gallatin Co. His father participated in the original laying out of the town of Warsaw (then called Fredericksburg). Richard Yates attended the common schools available in the county at the time. After his mother died in 1830, he and his father moved to Illinois, where Richard graduated from Illinois College at Jacksonville, Ill., in 1835. He returned to Kentucky to study law at Transylvania University in Lexington. Admitted to the bar in 1837, he set up his law practice in Jacksonville. Yates served in the Illinois state house from 1842 to 1845 and 1848 to 1849. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig and served from 1851 to 1855. He was elected governor of Illinois in 1860 and served until 1865. As Illinois’s governor during the turbulent years of the Civil War, Yates was given considerable credit for stifling the proConfederate sentiment that was pervasive during the war, especially in the southern region of the state. While Governor, Yates took notice of a young army officer engaged in recruiting and training new troops in Galena, Ill., and appointed this young officer, Ulysses S. Grant, to the state adjutant general’s office. In June 1861 Yates promoted Grant to colonel and put him in charge of an unruly regiment that was later named the 21st Illinois Volunteers. Yates was defeated in a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in 1863. Toward the end of the war, however, he
982 YMCA again ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican and was successful. He served there from March 4, 1865, until March 3, 1871, and was actively involved in post–Civil War Reconstruction decisions. Upon leaving the U.S. Senate, Yates was appointed a U.S. Commissioner by President Ulysses S. Grant, who once had been Yates’s aide. Yates was assigned to inspect a land subsidy railroad. He died suddenly of an unknown cause in St. Louis, Mo., in 1873 and was buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery in Jacksonville, Ill. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress .gov/biosearch/biosearch .asp. Bogardus, Carl R., Sr. “The History of Warsaw,” Gallatin Co. Free Public Library, Warsaw, Ky. ———. The Story of Gallatin County. Ed. James C. Claypool. Cincinnati: John S. Swift, 2003.
YMCA. The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) began in mid-19th-century England. George Williams founded the first “Y” in 1844, as a place where persons living on the streets of London could meet for Bible and prayer groups. The organization traditionally has been urban in location and Christian in spirit. The movement quickly spread throughout the industrialized Western world, arriving in Northern Kentucky before the Civil War. Later, YMCA’s sprang up in places such as Ceylon and the Far East. In the United States, the first Y’s were started in the context of American Protestantism’s evangelical reform attempts. The first Y in the country was established in Boston in 1851; by 1853 both Louisville and Lexington, Ky., had operating Y’s. Before
1850, Cincinnati had an organization similar to the YMCA, and by 1850 it had become a Y; for a few years in the late 1850s, Cincinnati was the home of the YMCA national convention, as the headquarters was called, principally as a result of the role Cincinnatian William Neff had played at the national level. In downtown Cincinnati in 1893 there was a YMCA evening school that eventually evolved into the Chase College of Law of Northern Kentucky University. It became independent in governance in 1951 but not in location until its move to Covington in 1972. Many of the first YMCA’s provided temporary housing for men who were new to jobs in big cities, both freshly arrived immigrants and men who had come from the farm. The ser vice was designed to keep them from drinking, gambling, smoking, and illicit sexual activity. In Northern Kentucky the connection with religion was clearly demonstrated early on, as the board members in Covington were required to be members of the local Protestant Ministerial Association. In 1857 a YMCA was operating in Covington in a hall on the third floor of a building at Fift h St. and Madison Ave. that had a Christian reading room; in 1867 a Y was meeting at the Newport courthouse, and there were hopes of moving to the Grace United Methodist Church. Courthouses often provided the incubation space of such groups at that time. The Newport group lasted until 1898. Beginning in 1880, for a short time there was a Y at Sixth and Main Sts. on the west side of Covington, the West End YMCA. In 1888 a Covington Y operated at Sixth St. and Madison Ave.; a year later it occupied the second floor of a building at the northwest corner of Eighth St. and Madison Ave. It was led by banker Jonathan David Hearne and a
Old YMCA building, opened in 1913 on Madison Ave., Covington.
young up-and-coming lawyer named Richard P. Ernst. Other cities in the area where early attempts were made at developing Y programs included Bellevue and Dayton in Campbell Co. and Latonia and Ludlow (which had a railroad Y) in Kenton Co. In 1892 Ernst, the person most closely associated with the YMCA movement in Northern Kentucky, became the president of the Covington Y, a position he retained until his death in 1934. Ernst accomplished many other things, one of them serving as a U.S. senator, but he was most proud of his relationship with the Y. He was first and foremost a “Y boy.” Covington’s Y programs were so successful that additional space was needed; therefore in 1911, under Ernst’s lead, construction was begun on a new facility at the southeast corner of Pike St. and Madison Ave. on the site of the landmark Magnolia House. The new Y was designed by architects George W. Schofield and Lyman Walker; it included a swimming pool, a gymnasium, meeting rooms, and a dormitory for short-term housing. That building opened in 1913. In 1918 Ernst proposed that the ladies and girls of Covington should also be served, and thus even today, one can see the separate boys’ and girls’ entrances to the building. It was the swimming pool that most interested the ladies, but women could not become formal members until 1929, when the Y added program emphasis on the family. Also in 1929, the Y expanded into the adjacent building, mainly for needed women’s facilities. Ernst’s early decision effectively precluded any appearance of a YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) in Northern Kentucky. The Y sponsored football teams, basketball and baseball leagues, volleyball games, bicycle races, rifle teams, tennis tournaments, marathon races, and debating teams; provided an exercise area; and offered sewing classes for girls. Its facility was often the site of important civic meetings and banquets and religious gatherings. For many years, the Y employed an on-site masseur. During the two world wars, the Covington Y was similar to a United Ser vice Organization (USO) in welcoming active-duty armed ser vice personnel. During World War I, the International YMCA recruited young women for ser vice in the European theater as nurses and USO entertainers. One of these was singer Elizabeth Parks, a Covington native, who later married a top leader in the Canadian YMCA’s involvement in the same effort. The Covington branch was blessed with important and influential leadership, both in its hands-on management and on its board of directors. Willard L. Wade (1902–1983) served as a YMCA director for more than 50 years, including 40 years in Covington. The Y cooperated closely with the Week Day School of Religion and the Hi-y program at Holmes High School. The Y swimming pool was popu lar with people of all ages. The Y’s cafeteria, opened in 1951, was a busy place where good meals could be had by anyone at a moderate price. Local businessmen and bankers in the immediate area crowded the cafeteria on weekdays at lunchtime. During the 1950s, local television star and heartthrob Bob Braun hosted teen dances in the building. The Covington Y,
which came to be known as the Wade Branch, continued into the 1980s, providing athletic activities and other programs to all who came. It closed its door on May 1, 1987. Before the 1920s, three specialized YMCA facilities arose in Northern Kentucky. Two were railroad Y’s, more formally known as transportation YMCA’s, established to help railroads deal with the saloon-attending problems of their overnight crews. In 1890 one of these facilities opened at 28 W. 15th St. in Covington; it moved in 1909 to 17th St. and Madison Ave., on the west side, at KC Junction, where the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O) joined with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. This was one of the busiest railroad intersections in the United States, and it was here that Ernst and others built the new Railroad YMCA Hotel, as a place where visiting train crews could stay overnight and eat, positioned near to their assigned trains for their trip home the next day. This Y attempted to create a community of out-oftowners by means of its monthly News and Notes newsletter. The building remains today but not as a hotel. The second railroad hotel appeared in late 1914 at Silver Grove in Campbell Co., along the C&O, near what became its Stevens Yard. This facility was open to the public, not just train crews. The third specialized Y in the region was on the grounds of the Fort Thomas Military Reservation, part of the Y’s armed ser vices division; it opened in July 1917 and remained for as long as the U.S. Army billeted soldiers there. Several photographs of the one-story Y building at the fort have survived in various collections. Since the Civil War, the YMCA has provided assistance and relief to the armed forces. It was this Y at the fort that created a YMCA tradition within the city of Fort Thomas, which continues to support the Campbell Co. YMCA just down the street. None of the three specialized YMCAs exist today. During the 1920s, the Covington branch operated a camp in Rosedale, known as Ernst Lodge, south of town at the end of the streetcar line. This is where the Y tennis courts were located. At this time the Rosedale community was considered to be out in the country. During the late 1920s, Ernst bought the 80-acre former Underhill Farm near Burlington, the farm made famous in John Uri Lloyd’s novel Warwick of the Knob. In the mid-1930s he gave the farm to the Y to be used for summer outdoor recreation such as camping, fishing, hiking, and swimming. The intention was to bring urban children out to the fresh air of the country for a couple of weeks each summer. Today, expanded to more than 350 acres, it operates successfully as Camp Ernst and is occasionally used by other groups, such as the Cincinnati YWCA. Plans for a new lodge building at Camp Ernst were announced in 2005. In recent years, the Y has gone suburban. Once families began leaving urban Covington in large numbers, the Pike St. and Madison Ave. YMCA, the Wade Branch, closed. It had been remodeled several times (in 1937, 1951, and 1967), only to be replaced in Covington with various satellite facilities offering social programs. The Wade building was sold in 1987.
In 1967 modern branch Y’s opened in Fort Thomas and Florence. Florence, beginning in 1955, had operated as the Tri-City Y before its new building was completed in late 1967. It served the three cities of Erlanger, Elsmere, and Florence but recently moved west to Burlington and into a new facility named for benefactor R. C. Durr. In 1983, nearly 50 years after Richard Ernst’s death, his dedication to the YMCA mission made a surprising new impact. As a result of a previously undisclosed clause in Ernst’s will, and after the death of all the relatives he named in his will, the trust fund’s principal was divided; half of it, $350,000, went to the Covington YMCA. Since the late 1980s, Northern Kentucky YMCA’s have been under the umbrella of the YMCA’s of Greater Cincinnati, which offers assorted programs at more than 20 sites on both sides of the Ohio River. In Campbell Co. there is the Campbell Co. YMCA in Fort Thomas and a teen center in Dayton; in Kenton Co. there are the Kenton Co. YMCA in Independence and programs offered in south Covington; in Boone Co. the Y has flourished, with Camp Ernst, the modern R.C. Durr facility at Boone Woods, and swimming pools at Union and Cherry Hill. There is one other YMCA within the Northern Kentucky region at Maysville along U.S. 68. During the 1980s, an attempt was made to start a Y program in Grant Co. Recently, these modern Y’s have moved into the areas of child care, fitness, and wellness. In Boone Co. a new senior center is also in the works at the Durr facility. “Covington Y Offers 4 New Dining Rooms,” KP, September 28, 1951, 1. “Ernst Gives History of Y at Banquet,” KP, October 12, 1932, 1. “New Home of Railroad Y.M.C.A. Will Be a Handsome Structure,” KP, June 10, 1909, 2. Phillips, Mike. “The Wade Y’s Future,” KP, January 18, 1984, 4K. “R.C. Durr YMCA to Open in June,” KP, May 1, 2004, 2K. Reis, Jim. “YMCA’s Kept Its Spunk Alive for 125 Years,” KP, March 12, 1984, 8K. “Willard Wade, Kentucky Y Leader for over 40 Years,” KE, October 18, 1983, C2. Young Men’s Christian Association. Northern Kentucky Young Men’s Christian Association. Frankfort: Kentucky Historical Society, 1989. Microfi lm set available at the Kenton Co. Public Library, Covington, Ky.
Michael J. Poehner
YOUNG, CHARLES DENTON, COLONEL (b. March 12, 1864, Mayslick, Ky.; d. January 8, 1922, Lagos, Nigeria). Charles Young, who became a colonel in the U.S. Army, was an African American, the son of former slaves. During the Civil War, his father served as a private in the Colored Artillery Volunteers, at a time when the U.S. Army was segregated. Charles’s family moved to Ripley, Ohio, when he was a young child. He attended the white Ripley High School, from which he graduated with honors at age 16. Afterward he taught at the black Ripley High School. Young was musically inclined and played the piano, the violin, and the
guitar. While a teacher, he took a competitive exam for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and placed second among the applicants. He graduated from West Point in the class of 1889, becoming only the third black ever to graduate, and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. In 1903 he married Aida Barr, and they had two children. Also in 1903, he was named acting superintendent of the Sequoia and General Grant national parks, being the first black to hold that title. His duties as a military officer were to enforce park rules, supervise the activities of the rangers, and protect the park and its wildlife from harm. His greatest accomplishment during his tenure was the construction of more roads, and he encouraged the federal government to purchase additional park land. For his performance, he was promoted to the rank of captain. He served in the U.S. Army for 37 years, at assignments in the United States, Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, and Liberia. At the start of World War I, he was diagnosed with Bright’s disease (a kidney disorder) and was medically discharged. For the next two years, he served as a professor of military science at the all-black Wilberforce College in Ohio. In 1916 he was awarded the Springarn Medal, given annually by the NAACP for outstanding achievement by a black American. In fall 1918 Young rode a horse from Xenia, Ohio, to Washington, D.C., proving to government officials that he was physically fit, and he was subsequently allowed to rejoin the army. On November 6, 1918, he was promoted to the rank of colonel, becoming the first African American to reach that rank in the U.S. Army. In 1919 he was appointed military attaché to the Republic of Liberia. At the age of 58, while on a reconnaissance mission there, Young died from a kidney infection. He was buried in Lagos, Nigeria. In June 1923, at his wife’s insistence, his remains were returned to the United States and he was reburied with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Arlington National Cemetery Website. “Charles Denton Young: Col o nel United States Army.” www .arlingtoncemetery.net. Buffalo Soldiers and Indian Wars. “Colonel Charles Young.” www.buffalosoldier.net. NPS.gov. “Capt. Charles Young.” www.nps.gov. Wikipedia. “Charles Young.” www.wikipedia.org.
YSAYE, EUGENE (b. July 16, 1858, Liege, Belgium; d. May 12, 1931, Liege, Belgium). Noted violinist and conductor Eugene Ysaye spent four years in Cincinnati. As a youth, he studied with his father, Nicolas Ysaye, before entering the Liege Conservatory in 1865. He made his first public appearance at age seven, attracting little attention. From 1876 he studied in Paris and had close contact with the French masters of the time—Camille SaintSaens, César Franck, and Gabriel Fauré. He enjoyed success as a soloist and had many Eu rope an engagements. From 1879 to 1882, he led the Bilse orchestra in Berlin. He was the first to perform some outstanding works, including Franck’s Violin Sonata (1886), Ernest Chausson’s Concert
984 YSAYE, EUGENE (1889–1891) and Poème (1896), and Claude Debussy’s String Quartet (1893). The celebrated pianist Ferdinand Hiller arranged to have Ysaye play for the great violinist Joseph Joachim, who remarked, “I have never heard the violin played like that before.” Ysaye was instrumental in developing the modern style of violin playing; his influence spanned three generations. When he gave the first performance of Elgar’s Violin Concerto in 1912, the greatest contemporary violinists were in the audience. Ysaye’s career peaked with his first American tour in 1894 and continued unabated until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. He collaborated with notable pianists, including his brother Theophile. But it was his partnership with Raoul Pugno that was most exceptional, because they performed only sonatas; for the time it was a very unusual kind of program. When poor health impaired Ysaye’s playing, he turned to conducting. He was hired as music di-
rector of the Cincinnati May Festival in 1918 and shortly thereafter was offered the music directorship of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He lived in Fort Thomas. He was no stranger to Cincinnati audiences, as he had performed with the Cincinnati Orpheus Club in 1894 and had appeared with the symphony five times. Before his first May Festival concert, the Cincinnati TimesStar reported, “No singer is so famous that he or she does not feel a thrill of anticipation in knowing that the great Ysaye is to wield the baton.” Ysaye’s symphony concerts took on a patriotic theme and audiences warmly responded. At his first concert as conductor, he opened the program with the national anthems of the Allied countries, to commemorate the ending of the war 11 days earlier. Enthusiasm for the orchestra was never higher. During his tenure the orchestra toured extensively and was the first to have its music broadcast on radio throughout the country. In 1918 Ysaye’s Ex-
ile, an elegy for string orchestra, premiered at the May Festival. The next year he gave a special concert at Music Hall for King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. He resigned in 1922 and returned to his homeland. There he gave private lessons and occasionally performed, giving his last concert in 1930. Two months before he died on May 12, 1931, his opera Peter the Miner premiered in Liege, but Ysaye was too ill to conduct. It was possibly his greatest musical triumph, yet it remains unpublished. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Centennial Portraits. Cincinnati: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, 1994. “Famous May Festival Soloists Eager to Sing under Baton of Cincinnati’s Renowned Leader,” CTS, May 4, 1918, 7. “Ysaye in Hospital Following Hunt for Burglar,” KP, February 10, 1919, 1. “Ysaye’s Magic Bow Is Stilled,” CE, May 13, 1931, 1.
Published on Sep 8, 2010
The Encylopedia of Northern Kentucky in partnership with NKY.com. Edited by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool, The University Press of...