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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 4 Collections and/or Records:

Letter to Dr Mary Gardner Grierson from Sophie Weisse, 18 October 1938

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2610
Scope and Contents Letter, 18 October 1938, Surrey, Sophie Weisse to Mary Grierson. News of Weisse's state of health, description of a lecture given by Tovey, news of Weisses travels in Germany. Holograph signed.
Dates: 18 October 1938

Letter to Dr Mary Gardner Grierson from Sophie Weisse, 28 August 1939

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2612
Scope and Contents Letter, 28 August 1939, Surrey, Sophie Weisse to Mary Grierson. Expressing anxiety over the threat of a European war and over Tovey's health. Holograph signed.
Dates: 28 August 1939

Letter to Dr Mary Gardner Grierson from Sophie Weisse, c1935

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2618
Scope and Contents Letter, [n.d], Surrey, Sophie Weisse to Mary Grierson. News of Tovey's illness and anxiety over Lady Tovey's charge of Tovey. Holograph signed.
Dates: c1935

Letter to Hubert James Foss from Sophie Weisse, c1940

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2577
Scope and Contents Letter, [n.d], Surrey, Sophie Weisse to Hubert Foss. Informing Foss that Miss. Weisse will attempt to work on his dissertation, but explaining that Miss. Weisse is quite helpless now. Holograph signed.
Dates: c1940