If we called your attention to every performance of Rebecca Clarke’s Sonata, your inbox would fill up every ten minutes, and you’d drop us at once, so let’s not go there.

We do, however, need to alert you to the fact that the Sonata will be the lead-item in one of the most interesting events in this summer’s Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival: a viola-centric program that also features a fascinating array of pieces by Ulysses Kay, Luciano Berio, and Paul Hindemith, all of whom taught and/or studied at Tanglewood, which is just down the road from the site of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge’s Berkshire Festival, where Clarke made her first big international splash as a composer, slightly more than a century ago, with—you guessed it—the Sonata.

The program, part of Tanglewood’s BSO Musicians in Recital series, debuts on July 31, 2020, at 8:00 p.m. EDT, and remains available through August 7.

Clarke and Mrs. Coolidge were famous innovators—Clarke as one of the earliest evangelists of the viola, and Mrs. Coolidge as a visionary programmer whose chamber-music festival was celebrated as the first thing of its kind ever given in the United States—so we imagine both of them would have been keenly interested in a concert that sets Clarke’s Sonata next to Kay’s Sonatine (1939), in what seems to be its world premiere, and then follows up with Berio’s Naturale, for viola, percussion, and recorded voice (1984), and finally circles back to 1919, with Hindemith’s Sonata, Op. 11, No. 4.

The performers—all members of the BSO—are violists Mary Ferrillo, Steven Laraia, and Daniel Getz; percussionist Kyle Brightwell; and pianist Brett Hodgdon. Ferrillo and Hodgdon do the honors in the Clarke.

Information, program-notes, and virtual tickets are available here.

See you, as it were, on the “The Lawn”!

Ordinarily, we would have acted like a reasonably sober composer-website and led off with a slightly less lurid, more informative headline, but “Rebecca Clarke, Viola-Player and Composer—Meeting All Your Family’s Rebecca Clarke Tchotchke Needs Since 2020!” ran a little long, even for the debut of our new Shop page.

Be that as it may, if you ever feel moved to regale yourself, or those you love, with Rebecca Clarke socks, leggings, miniskirts, iPhone cases, laptop skins, greeting cards, throw-pillows, bathmats, or a host of other useful and amusing products, then Arty Margit is your go-to place. The brainchild of Margit van der Zwan, a cellist and artist based in Manchester, England, Arty Margit sells a vast line of composer-related products through Etsy and Redbubble, covering just about everyone who’s great and cool, from Hildegard of Bingen to Arvo Pärt and Kaija Saariaho, in really snazzy designs and terrific colors.

Margit’s design for Rebecca Clarke—based on one of Clarke’s most striking publicity-shots, by Louis Langfier, of 23 Old Bond Street, W., London, dating from around 1923—brings out the strong profile and commanding presence of a highly public figure who stood nearly six feet tall in her prime, and reportedly “strode on stage like a goddess.”

And lest you think there’s anything even slightly out-of-character about this, remember that Clarke was a committed clotheshorse who swanned through everything from Vogue, to the style-page of The Sphere (“The Empire’s Illustrated Weekly”), to “Pall Mall”’s syndicated gossip-column, to the front page (above the fold) of Honolulu’s Pacific Commercial Advertiser, and was known to pop off lines like, “Oh, no, darlings!”—this to her goggle-eyed nieces—“You must save your white gowns until after you’ve come back from the South of France!”

You might want to start with Arty Margit’s basic print, sold here, but after that the sky’s the limit, with everything from travel-mugs to a (regrettably) up-to-the-minute face-mask, sold here (and be sure to scroll down the page and click on the arrow following “Available on +48 products”).

We’re not sure what Clarke would have made of all this, but she was never one for postponing joy, so why should you? Besides, it’s not every day you get to patronize an artist who has actually played the Kit Kat Klub.


A first edition of Rebecca Clarke’s Irish Melody (Emer’s Farewell to Cucullain), the third of her duets for viola (or violin) and cello, has just been announced by Gems Music Publications, with release to follow almost immediately. 

This is a genuine “discovery,” and for once that term is merited in every way. The piece slipped from memory during Clarke’s lifetime, leaving only a few faint traces—a single, tantalizing newspaper-review in 1918, and two entries in Clarke’s diaries for 1927. It turned up again in 2015, out of the blue, in the form of a manuscript in the private collection of the late John White, longtime professor of viola at the Royal Academy of Music, London, along with the only known manuscripts of Clarke’s other duets for viola and cello, the famous Lullaby and Grotesque (Oxford University Press, 1930; rev. ed. 2002). White’s wife Carol realized instantly that she was seeing something new and unusual, and brought it to our attention. It is largely through her efforts that Irish Melody has been brought back to life, and can now be put before the public in an Urtext edition by Kenneth Martinson and yours truly.

It’s a honey of a piece—fully the equal of its better-known peers—a full-throated arrangement of the tune familiar to most of us as “Londonderry Air,” or as “Danny Boy,” but with a startling and deeply moving twist: like many of Clarke’s pieces with poetic or literary titles (Morpheus, or Passacaglia on an Old English Tune, for example), it encrypts a passionate back-story. The Gems edition lays all this out, while explaining the piece’s fascinating background and performance-history.

Through July 31, customers who buy the piece with at least one other title will be offered a free PDF download as soon as their order ships. Either way, you won’t be sorry: it’s absolutely gorgeous; it’s almost infinitely useful in concert, either as a stand-alone or in various combinations with the other duets; and your audiences—like Clarke’s at the first known performance, in a high-school auditorium in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, back in the summer of 1918—will be “strong in their appreciation.”


Because of COVID-19, Berkshire Choral International, the venerable summer institute based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is unable to offer amateur singers its usual feast of professional-level choral immersion experiences this summer, but that won’t stop the annual faculty-and-staff recital from going on as scheduled, on Sunday, July 19, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (US), with party to follow. Both events will be virtual—the recital via BCI’s YouTube channel, the party via Zoom—and you’re invited.

We’re passing the word for three reasons: first, because we wholeheartedly endorse BCI’s mission, to “enhance the skills of amateur choral singers and to promote a wider appreciation of choral singing and its tradition”; second, because we have worked with several of BCI’s world-class conductors and can vouch for the pleasure and educational value of their company; and finally, because the recital features Laura Strickling’s riveting, tightly focused account of Rebecca Clarke’s The Seal Man.

You may already have watched this performance on our Video page, but it’ll be good to see it in the context of a fascinating program that also features works by Handel, Schumann, Debussy, Respighi, Poulenc, Copland, and Schoenberg. Plus, our Video page lacks an after-party, so it’s all gain.

Direct links to follow. In the meantime, the best course is to sign up for BCI’s YouTube channel, and catch the trailer for the recital here. A complete list of performers and works can be found here.