Skip to main content

Weisse, Sophie, 1852-1945 (Scottish music teacher)



  • Existence: 1852-1945

Sophie Weisse was born in Edinburgh in 1852 to a German father and Lithuanian mother. Little is known of her early life and education. In 1892, she founded the all-girls school of Northlands in Surrey, which she ran for twenty-five years. Although Northlands was a school of general education, music was given a particularly prominent place in the curriculum, and musical celebrities were often invited to visit and perform. Weisse employed the young Donald Tovey as a pianist at the school’s concerts, which provided a launch for his career as a musician and composer. Weisse had discovered Tovey’s talent at the age of four and had managed all aspects of his education. She further supported his career by funding the publication of his works between 1903 and 1913. Weisse and Tovey maintained a lifelong relationship. When Tovey was appointed to Edinburgh University’s Reid Chair of Music in 1914, Weisse followed him to Edinburgh. As Reid Professor, Tovey bestowed on Weisse an honorary degree of Doctor of Music in 1936. Weisse died in Guildford in 1945.
Weisse was a major benefactor of the University of Edinburgh. On Tovey’s death in 1941, she gifted 18 Buccleuch Place to the University as 'The Tovey Memorial Rooms', with the intention that it be used for student study. She also gifted the University portraits of Tovey and herself by Philip de Laszlo and endowed the Tovey Memorial Prize as an annual award for the most promising undergraduate composer or performer in the Faculty of Music. Her collection of around 600 books and scores relating to Beethoven was purchased by the University in 1948.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

Letter to [Antonia Speyer] from Sophie Weisse, c1920

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2658
Scope and Contents Letter, [n.d], Sophie Weisse to [Antonia Speyer]. A condemnation of the Classical concerts and a suggestion that this concert series should not be continued. Typescript copy.
Dates: c1920

Letter to Edward Speyer from Sophie Weisse, c1920

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2624
Scope and Contents Letter, [1911], Sophie Weisse to Edward Speyer. Condemning the classical concert series and Tovey's part in their organisation. Typescript copy.
Dates: c1920

Letter to Sophie Weisse from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, c1899

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L536
Scope and Contents Letter, [1899], Donald Tovey to Sophie Weisse. Analysis of the playing, rhythm and performance of ' The Bohemians '. Holograph signed.
Dates: c1899

Letter to Sophie Weisse from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, 20 November 1900

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L549
Scope and Contents Letter, 20 November 1900, Oxford, Donald Tovey to Sophie Weisse. News of Tovey's quintet rehearsals, lecture and comments on the Leeds festival. Typescript copy.
Dates: 20 November 1900

Letter to Sophie Weisse from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, c1895

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2678
Scope and Contents Letter, 1895, Oxford, Donald Tovey to Sophie Weisse. Thanking Miss. Weisse for sending presents, details of a concert given by Paderewski, criticising a piano, Tovey's studying plans, and other news. Photocopy of Holograph signed.
Dates: c1895