Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
August 27
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Music for the violin is written in "treble clef," which is also known as "G clef"
1521 - Josquin Des Prez,  Flemish church music composer died at  age 81, in Valenciennes.

1892 - The Metropolitan Opera House was destroyed by fire.

1935 - James Christensen, music director for both Disneyland and Disney World was born.

1966 - The Association's Cherish was released.

1979 - First performance of Leonard Bernstein's song Piccola Serenata at Salzburg Festival. It was composed for the 81st birthday of conductor Karl Böhm
Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was born August 27, 1886 in Harrow, England to an American father and a German mother. 

Her talent was obvious early and  she was enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in 1903, where she studied the violin. She was withdrawn from the academy in 1905, when her harmony teacher, Percy Miles, proposed marriage.
In 1907 Clarke was enrolled in  London's Royal College of Music, she studied composition with Sir Charles Stanford; she was his first woman student.

Clarke had a long career as a professional violist; in 1913 she was one of the first women to be admitted to the Queen's Hall Orchestra. She achieved fame as a composer with her Viola Sonata (1919) and Piano Trio (1921).  Both pieces were written for competitions sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge at the Berkshire (Mass.) Festival of Chamber Music. Throughout the twenties Clarke continued to write chamber music and songs, much of it for her fellow performers.
Rebecca Clarke
1886 - 1979
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Viola music is in an altogether different clef. Can You Guess in what clef we write viola music?

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Did You Guess?
Viola music is written in alto clef. 
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She spent the years of World War II in the U.S. 1939 to 1941 were years in which she returned to writing, and several pieces resulted. It was at this time that Clarke met James Friskin, a pianist at the Juilliard School in New York.  The two had been acquainted when they were students at the Royal College of Music.  In 1944 the couple married, and lived in New York.  Although her output seems to have lessened somewhat with age, she continued to work at least until she was 90 years old.

Rebecca Clarke died October 13, 1979 at the age of 93.

Although Clarke's talent as a composer is unquestioned, she had trouble publishing her works, probably due to her being a woman trying to succeed in a field dominated by men.  In 1918 she tried using the name "Anthony Trent" for at least one piece.  To this day, much of her music has still not been published.  The Rebecca Clarke Society was founded in 2000 to promote Clarke's music and educate the public about her.
Based in London from 1924 to 1939, Clarke toured extensively, and performed with several ensembles.  In 1927 she formed the English Ensemble, a piano quartet made up of Clarke, Marjorie Hayward, Kathleen Long and May Mukle. Clarke also performed as a soloist and ensemble musician in BBC broadcasts.  In the 1930s Clarke continued to perform, but did not compose a great deal.
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