Mrs. Schirmer’s Watchful Eye

Edith Vail Ross lived with Mrs. Schirmer on W. 56th Street in New York City in 1903. She was busy taking voice lessons with Mr. Desci and had recently added dramatic voice lessons with Miss Collins. She kept a full schedule with lessons, auditions and networking. Her mother and Mrs. Schirmer kept regular correspondence about Edith’s progress but not at the near daily frequency that Edith wrote home. Very few letters have survived the years but the following is one such example from Mrs. Schirmer to Helen Beals Ross, Edith’s mother in Vermont. The last paragraph outlines how closely Mrs. Schirmer was involved in Edith’s music education and what a keen observer she was to Edith’s personality.

June 28, 1903 Letter from M.G. Schirmer to Edith's Mother in Rutland, Vermont  Helen Beals Ross

June 28, 1903 Letter from M.G. Schirmer to Edith’s Mother in Rutland, Vermont Helen Beals Ross

“My dear dear friend,
Both your note and letter came in good time and the beautiful neckhand came in perfect order – But my dear Helen, I did not dream of letting Mrs. McClure take her precious moments for working for me that dear woman works too hard. I wish you would pay her, and let me know what it is. It is a beautiful and just what I wanted, give her my love and tell her I shall leave no stone unturned to help her. I am waiting impatiently for further word from Mr. Barker- the petitions that are to be sent to me. Mr. Roosevelt is at home now and will be easily reached and I mean to reach him.

From Edith you learn all the news concerning her work. She is kept busy every hour in the day and more is to be done this week, of which she knows nothing. I spring things upon her and have found it to work better than a long preparation. I have not seen her since 10:30 this AM I am a little sorry her whole Sunday must be used in visiting as I would like her to have 2-3 hours of quiet here, she is better prepared for her work on Monday, but it would be difficult to arrange otherwise. She is singing better by far than when you heard her and her dramatic lessons are of infinite value to her. I only wish it had been done earlier. I wish you knew what other professionals do. She is (I mean Edith) in dead earnest and I am sure she will soon reap good results. Patience and perseverance are the watchwords and to remember all beginnings are hard, but once get a proper foot hold and then there is smooth sailing. So many times we wish you were here to see the goings on. We are all busy and are losing no opportunities to push her and bring her to notice. With love to you and your dear ones and thank you again to Mrs. McClure. I am yours fond friend, Mrs. G Schirmer”

About Guenevere Crum

Guenevere Crum is an artist and a great granddaughter of Edith and Paul Eisler. She has been actively sleuthing her Eisler - Vail Ross heritage since 1999.
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