The International Harp Competition «Crystal key» in 2012 bore name of Ksenia Alexandrovna Erdely (1878-1971). The renowned, outstanding Russian harpist, pedagogue and composer Ksenia Erdely was the leading figure in the world of Russian music of her time. One of the founders of the Russian Harp School of the 20th century, she preserved, enriched and passed on to the next generation the traditions of this school.
She studied the harp with Ekaterina Walter-Kiine at the Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg. In 1899 she started her long professional career. For many years she was the Soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, State Symphony Orchestra, Persimfance and taught at the Moscow and St. Petersburg Conservatories, Smolny Institute, State Gnessin College, Music College of the Philarmonic Society and the Moscow Special Music School.
Erdely worked throughout her long career on the enrichment of the concert and pedagogical harp repertoire. On her initiative the first books of harp studies, pieces and exercises were published. She arranged and edited the works of Tchaikovsky, Lyadov, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Glinka, J.S. Bach, Debussy, Bochsa and Nadermann amongst others.
Erdely created a number of compositions for the harp: Preludes, Etudes, Elegy in Memory of Glinka, Fantasy "Ukraine", Variations on the Russian Theme and many others.
Her performing career lasted more than 70 years! She was the first performer in Russia of Ravel's "Introduction and Allegro". Many works were dedicated to and premiered by her including concertos by R. Gliere, N. Parfyenov, V. Zibin, A. Kos-Anatolsky as well as pieces by Z. Kui, M. Ippolitov-Iwanov, R. Gliere, A. Grechaninov. She founded the first professional Harp Quartet in Russia (1957). Among her students were many established Russian harpists such as V. Dulova, O. Erdely, E. Alimova, V. Pushkareva-Polivanova, L. Rumyanzeva, E. Kuzmicheva, M. Smirnova, M. Vishnepolskaya, M. Sorokoumovskaya, V. Poltareva, L. Hetagurova, A. Abdullaeva, V. Gurova; M. Rubin, T. Tauer, M. Agazarian to just name a few.
In 1967 she published her book "The Harp in My Life - Memoires". Ksenia Erdely initiated the opening of the production of the Russian Lunacharskiy Harp in St. Petersburg. From 1964 to the end of her life Ksenia Erdely was a Member of the Board of Directors of the Harp Society of USSR. For her outstanding life and influence on Russian culture, Professor Erdely was bestowed the highest award of the Soviet Government: "People's Artist of the USSR".