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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 3 Collections and/or Records:

Letter to Dr Mary Gardner Grierson from Sophie Weisse, 01 December 1938

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2611
Scope and Contents Letter, 1 December 1938, Edinburgh, Sophie Weisse to Mary Grierson. Arranging to meet, discussion of Tovey's heart condition. Holograph signed.
Dates: 01 December 1938

Letter to Sir Donald Francis Tovey from Sophie Weisse, 13 April 1923

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L1911
Scope and Contents Letter, 13 April 1923, Edinburgh, Sophie Weisse to Donald Tovey. Expressing sympathy and offering help, news of Miss. Weisse's health and her mourning in the absence of the dear boy. Holograph signed.
Dates: 13 April 1923

Letter to Sir Donald Francis Tovey from Sophie Weisse, 25 April 1935

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L1912
Scope and Contents Letter, 25 April 1935, Edinburgh, Sophie Weisse to Donald Tovey. Description of Miss. Weisse's bad health, giving Tovey some advice. Holograph signed.
Dates: 25 April 1935