Ella Adayevskaya

Ella Adayevskaya

Russian-German composer and pianist Ella Adayevskaya (1846-1926) composed one extant clarinet sonata in 1881, titled “Griechische Sonata,” or “Greek Sonata.” Composed in two movements, this late Romantic work for clarinet and piano is publicly available on IMSLP.

Ella Adayevskaya (1846 – 1926)

Ella Georgiyevna Adayevskaya (Russian: Элла (Елизавета) Георгиевна Адаевская; 22 or 10 February 1846 – 26 July 1926), was a Russian-German composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist.

Adayevskaya wrote vocal music (including choral works), chamber music, and two operas. She also edited a collection of Italian songs and published writings on folk music and the music of ancient Greece. Significantly for the clarinet community, she composed a two-movement sonata for clarinet and piano, titled the “Greek Sonata,” or “Griechische Sonata.” Curiously, the wikipedia page claims that this sonata contains quarter tones. Upon review of the score, which survives today in handwritten manuscript form, there are no indications for use of quarter tones. Although written in only two movements, when performed in its entirely, the sonata is about 18 minutes long. Clarinetist Ann Watson released what appears to be the premiere recording of the entire sonata in 2014 on her album “Raretes Romantiques.” Scroll to the bottom of the page or click here to listen to a sample.

Born in St. Petersburg on 22 February 1846 as Elizaveta/Elisabeth von Schultz, as the daughter of the prominent Estophile of Baltic German heritage Georg Julius von Schultz.[1] Schultz began learning the piano in childhood. Amongst her teachers were Adolf von Henselt, Anton Rubinstein, and Alexander Dreyschock. She studied composition with Alexander Famintsyn and Nikolai Zaremba. She composed under the name Adayevskaya, a pseudonym that she derived from the notes A, D, and A, played by the kettledrum in Mikhail Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Ludmila.[2]

Her earliest works include choruses written for the Russian Imperial Chapel Choir.[2] In the 1870s, she wrote two operas. The first, titled Neprigozhaya (The Ugly Girl) (in the composer’s German manuscript Salomonida, die Tochter des BojarenSalomonida, The Boyar’s Daughter), was a one-act piece written in 1873.[3] The more ambitious Zarya (Dawn, German title Die Morgenröte der Freiheit (The Dawn of Freedom) ) followed in 1877; this four-act work was dedicated by the composer to Tsar Alexander II, but was rejected by the censor.[4] Later, she embarked on several solo concert tours of Europe and settled in Venice in 1882. In 1881, she composed her Greek Sonata for clarinet and piano. Records indicate it was even printed in 1913.[2] In Italy, she collected national songs, among others songs of the people of the Raetia region in quintuple metre.[5]

In 1911, she moved to Neuwied where was associated with the circle of the poet Carmen Sylva and published many articles on folk music.[2]

Adayevskaya died in Bonn in 1926. She was buried in the Alter Friedhof, Bonn.

You may read her full biography on Wikipedia.org, from which sections of the above are excerpted.

Clarinet Compositions

Sonata Greca | 1881
Clarinet and Piano
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  1.  Biographie, adaiewsky.de
  2. Brown (n.d.)
  3. Hüsken (2005), pp. 310-311.
  4. Hüsken, 312
  5. Eaglefield Hull (1924), 6.
Publication date:

This page was last updated 3/26/2021

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