Alexei Lubimov - pianoforte Alois Graff (1828) • On Thursday, November 1st, 2012, after performing the entire corpus of Beethoven's String Quartets at the Pays de Fayence String Quartet Festival in the South of France, the Ysaÿe Quartet announced that it was bringing its thirty-year career to an end in January 2014. The fourteen months ahead are to be devoted a major series of concerts, with a special emphasis on the music of Beethoven. Founded in 1984 by a group of students at the Paris Conservatoire, the Quartet took its name from Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931), a violinist, chamber musician and composer whose influence is still felt today. From the start and more especially after winning First Prize at the prestigious Evian String Quartet Competition in 1988, the Ysaÿe Quartet has stood at the pinnacle of the international chamber music scene, on a par with such legendary formations as the LaSalle and Amadeus Quartets that provided an inspiration for its work. It has brought an open-minded, committed and unfussy approach, characteristic of great playing, to a wide range of repertoires, from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to contemporary composers, who have often written specially for it. At the same time, teaching commitments have long been a central part of the Quartet's activities. In 1993, Miguel da Silva persuaded his colleagues to join him in setting up a specific String Quartet course at the Paris National Conservatoire (now the Paris Regional Conservatoire). This was a national first. Ysaÿe's students, both French (Psophos, Ebène, Modigliani, Voce, Hermès, Girard, Zaïde and Varèse) and international (Aviv of Israel, Incanto of Switzerland, Difference of Latvia) have won major awards around the world.