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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 Sophie Weisse from Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, 16 November 1893

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2368
Scope and Contents Letter, 16 November 1893, London, Hubert C. Parry to Sophie Weisse. Thanking Miss. Weisse for her letter and gift and suggesting that Donald apply for a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. Holograph signed.
Dates: 16 November 1893

Letter to Sophie Weisse from Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, 08 May 1894

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L2374
Scope and Contents Letter, 8 May 1894, London, Hubert C. Parry to Sophie Weisse. Concerning cheques for payments of Tovey's lessons, informing Miss. Weisse that Tovey has a good chance of winning the Nettleship scholarship. Holograph signed.
Dates: 08 May 1894

Letter to Sophie Weisse from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, 27 April 1895

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L382
Scope and Contents Letter, 27 April 1895, Oxford, Donald Tovey to Sophie Weisse. Covering note for letter from Hipkins to Tovey. Holograph signed, with letter 26 April 1895, from Alfred Hipkins to Donald Tovey, consoling Tovey for not receiving an Oxford music scholarship, with envelope.
Dates: 27 April 1895

Letter to Sophie Weisse from Sir Donald Francis Tovey, 17 February 1895

Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L404
Scope and Contents Letter, 17 February 1895, Oxford, Donald Tovey to Sophie Weisse. Tovey's application for the Mendelssohn scholarship an news of Tovey's contemporaries at Balliol. Holograph signed, with stamped envelope.
Dates: 17 February 1895