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Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)

Born 27 August 1886
London Borough of Harrow, United Kingdom
Died 13 October 1979
New York City, NY
Nationality English
Era Romantic

In many respects, Rebecca Clarke had a troubled childhood. Her father maintained a strict sense of Victorian morals and could be quite cruel to his daughter. Nevertheless, Rebecca Clarke showed musical promise at an early age. She entered the Royal Academy of Music in 1903 to study violin but left abruptly after a marriage proposal from her harmony teacher. She enrolled at the Royal College of Music in 1907 as a composition student (the first female student of Charles Stanford) but left once her father removed his blessing. To support herself, Clarke began an active performing career as a violist. Clarke gained recognition as a composer after the premiere of her viola sonata in 1919. For most of her adult life, she split her time between Great Britain and the United States. Her works resemble those of other English composers from the early 20th century, conforming to the pastoral style in vogue. There is a clarity of texture throughout much of her music, as well as an impressionistic bent. Much of her music, to this day, remains unpublished.

See Also:
A Rebecca Clarke Reader. Edited by Liane Curtis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Liane Curtis. “Rebecca Clarke and Sonata Form: Questions of Gender and Genre.” The Musical Quarterly 81, no 3 (1997): 393-429.

Marin Ruth Tollefson Jacobson. Stylistic Developments in the Choral Music of Rebecca Clarke. DMA Document, University of Iowa, 2011.