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Three letters signed from Sophie Weisse to Louis Fleury, 5 June, 28 June, 13 July 1910

 File — Box: CLX-A-1702
Identifier: Coll-1848/21-0018

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of three letters, in French, from the Scottish music teacher, Sophie Weisse (1852-1945) to the French flautist Louis Fleury (1878-1926). Composed in June-July 1910 in Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. The letters discuss concert plans, including a performance by Weisse’s close friend and protegé, Donald Tovey. One letter mentions Tovey’s great admiration of Fleury’s playing.


  • Creation: 5 June, 28 June, 13 July 1910


Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the repository in advance.

Biographical / Historical

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.

Louis Fleury was a French flautist who studied under Paul Taffanel at the Conservatoire de Paris. An acclaimed musician, he inspired works by significant composers. Claude Debussy dedicated ‘Syrinx’, a piece for solo flute, to him in 1913, and Fleury performed the première. In 1921, Cyril Rootham dedicated a "Suite in Three Movements" for flute and piano to Fleury. Fleury rediscovered many forgotten Baroque flute compositions and commissioned new pieces for the flute by contemporary composers. He was a founder member of the Société Moderne des Instruments à Vent. Fleury was a friend of the Scottish music teacher Sophie Weisse, for whom he performed at Northlands, the all-girl school that Weisse established in Surrey in 1892.


3 letters

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in December 2020. Accession no. SC-Acc-2021-0018.

Related Materials

Edinburgh University Special Collections also hold the Tovey Collection (Coll-411).

Processing Information

Catalogued in October 2021 by Aline Brodin and Paul Barnaby.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379