Born and raised in England, Rebecca was of both English and American nationality. She came from an artistic family and her musical studies were encouraged. Clarke enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in 1903, where she studied the violin. She left the institution two years later after her harmony teacher proposed marriage. Clarke returned to her studies in 1907 at the Royal College of Music, where she was Charles Stanford’s first female student.
In 1912 she became one of the first female musicians in a fully professional ensemble, when Henry Wood admitted her to the Queen’s Hall orchestra. In 1916 she traveled through the United States on a recital tour. During these years Clarke achieved fame as a composer with her Viola Sonata and Piano Trio.
Many of Clarke’s work remains unpublished. If “new” works by Rebecca Clarke emerge, WUOL will be sure to present them. In the meantime, please enjoy a performance of her most famous composition: