Elisabeth von Schultz, better known under her pseudonym of Ella Adaïewsky, is one of the most remarkable ”women in music” of her time. Her artistic calibre and great culture were such that she could operate with ease as a pianist, composer and musicologist with truly European dimensions.
Among Ella’s compositions particular importance is held by the 24 Präludien for voice and piano, written in Venice between 1903 and 1907: a Lied anthology in which we should not seek overt thrills of a twentieth-century avant-garde, but one which holds balanced, effective piano scoring, an essential sung line, intimate and refined, and fine sensitivity, at times elegantly balancing between aristocratic epigonality, tastes of neo-classicism and graceful embryonic allusions to the new idioms that were arising in those years.
The adoption of poetical texts from the youth of Benno Geiger (1882-1965), Ella’s nephew, is significant. There was a genuine artistic fellowship between aunt and nephew which contributed to the career of Benno, who was destined to become a versatile cultural operator, dedicated to poetry and to art history and criticism. The themes of solitude and nostalgia for maternal love are recurrent in his verses: at the time Benno was studying in Leipzig and longed for the intimacy of family life in Venice. These are youthful verses rich in images and allusions well-suited to music; susceptible, in their use of metre and symbols to being dressed in sound.