is not well known nowadays because most of her music was not published
and started being
published only since 1998.
She was an English professional viola player and composer who
composed several works for viola, for herself or to play with
She wrote her memories where she talks about her difficult realtionship
with her father.
She was born in 1886, started to study violin at the Royal Academy of
Music in London but stopped because her father withdrew her after a
teacher proposed to marry her. Then she studied composition at the
Royal College of Music in London, being one of the first female
students of composition.
She did not complete her studies because her father banished her from
home and cut all her funding. Since 1910, at 24, Rebecca had to support
herself and did so by playing the viola in the Queen’s Hall orchestra,
being again one of the first women in the professional orchestra.
A few years later she moves to the United States and started travelling
extensively, performing with her two brothers and later even doing a
world tour of the British colonies.
Hers must have been quite a difficult
life, being a woman and
a composer and a viola player at the beginning of the
20th century and when the viola was just starting to be
recognised as a solo instrument, thanks to the efforts of Lionel
Tertis. Rebecca Clarke
was also a viola student of Tertis's.
She spent her life between England and the United States and lived 93
Works for viola
Being a woman didn't help Rebecca Clarke's career as a composer and
her works were not published during her lifetime. This probably
did not encourage her and contributed to the fact that she stopped
composing around 1940s.
She initially made a career as a viola player, playing in
orchestras, chamber music groups made of all women and as a soloist
also for BBC broadcasts, then become well known
as a composer thanks to her Viola
Sonata, after taking part in a competition in 1919, although her
work did not win.
She composed of good number of works, as you can see from the list
below. Fortunately, more and more are being published now.
Buy Rebecca Clarke's music on CDs and
Sheet music to play it
If you wish to listen to more of Rebecca Clarke's music find here a
selection of recordings you can buy and if you wish to play
some of her works click on the pictures to see some editions of sheet
Some works are suitable for intermediate, advanced players while
some others are easier, the Shorter
2 Lullabies for viola and
Lullaby on an Ancient Irish Tune
for viola and piano
2 Pieces: Lullaby, Grotesque for viola (or violin) and
Morpheus for viola and
piano (composed under the pseudonym "Anthony Trent")
Untitled work for viola
Sonata for viola (or
cello) and piano
Puzzle for violin (or viola) and piano
2 works for string quartet
Chinese Puzzle for flute,
violin, viola and cello
Passacaglia on an Old
English Tune in C minor for viola (or cello) and piano (tune attributed
to Thomas Tallis)
Prelude, Allegro and Pastorale
for viola and clarinet
Trio for violin, viola and piano
I'll Bid My
Heart Be Still (old Scottish border melody) for viola and piano
Sonata for viola and piano
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