About

Welcome to the official homepage of Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979), the composer Gramophone called “one of the very best of her time,” and “almost certainly the best composer of any period to have also been a woman.” Clarke, along with Lionel Tertis and her friend “Bill” Primrose, was also one of the great pioneering violists, who proselytized for the instrument and did much to enrich its repertoire. Clarke’s compositions comprise some of the finest vocal and chamber works of the twentieth century, many of which are taught, played, broadcast, recorded, and loved throughout the world. Her Sonata (1919) is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest extended compositions ever written for the viola, and one of the finest modern works for cello.

Clarke’s rights are owned by Christopher Johnson, a great-nephew-by-marriage, who worked with her during her final decade and catalogued her compositions, with her assistance. Clarke’s rights, and those of her husband, the pianist, author, and editor James Friskin, are administered exclusively through this website.

Inquiries from researchers, professional musicians, and music-lovers are always welcome. If you would like access to any of the copious materials relating to Clarke’s life—including manuscripts, documents, recordings, and visual materials—please use the form on the “Contact” page.

A wide range of resources is available by license.

FOR RESEARCHERS:

I Had A Father Too, or The Mustard Spoon, Clarke’s memoir of her childhood and youth, musical education, and early career.

Diaries, 1919-1933, giving a day-by-day chronicle of the busiest and most productive period of Clarke’s career. Some parts of this material are in a fragile state, owing to the caustic inks Clarke used during much of her world tour in 1922-23, so please state in correspondence what pieces/events/dates you are most interested in.

Wilton, extensive notes towards a book about Clarke’s brief stint as a nanny at the height of World War II. As with the diaries, the originals are very fragile, so please state which aspects are of most interest to you.

Oxford Circus and All Clear, two true-to-life short stories written by Clarke during World War II.

Lazy Ponderings on Fashion and Music, a revealing vignette from the 1930s.

Lectures, broadcasts, and interviews.

Correspondence, including letters between Clarke and Friskin throughout their courtship and marriage.

Photographs and press-clippings covering the whole of Clarke’s seventy-year career.

FOR PERFORMERS:

Clarke’s own performance-materials, including marked-up solo parts for the Sonata and Rhapsody.

Contemporaneous accounts of Clarke’s playing, programming, and presentation.

FOR PROGRAMMERS:

Program-notes, many written by Clarke herself.

Song-texts.

Historical photographs and documents.

FOR STUDENTS AND MUSIC-LOVERS:

Timelines, bibliographies, and resource-guides.

Occasional papers on special topics, incorporating the latest research.

FOR EVERYONE:

The only legitimate access to Clarke’s unpublished works.