Clarke’s Voice

Robert Sherman, WQXRMany who love Clarke’s music have read the interviews that first launched her rediscovery in 1976, which were recorded by the radio journalist Robert Sherman.  This page offers several audio clips from those interviews that were first broadcast on radio WQXR, 39 years ago!  As ever, thank you to Mr. Sherman for his generosity in sharing this material, and his wisdom in interviewing Clarke!

The interviews are transcribed in A Rebecca Clarke Reader, on Google books, here.

1 – [p. 171]  And when I had that one little whiff of success that I’ve had in my life, with the Viola Sonata … the rumor went around, I hear, that I hadn’t written the stuff myself, that somebody had done it for me. And I even got one or two little bits of — I don’t know if I’ve still got them, I doubt it – little bits of press clippings saying that it was impossible, that I couldn’t have written it myself. And the funniest of all was that I had a clipping once which said that I didn’t exist, there wasn’t any such person as Rebecca Clarke, that it was a pseudonym.

Sherman:  [laughs]

Clarke:  Now these people had got it most beautifully mixed — that it was a pseudonym for Ernest Bloch! I thought to myself what a funny idea that when he writes his very much lesser works that he should take a pseudonym of a girl, that anyone should consider this possible!



2 – [p. 172]   Oh, and I’ll tell you something that will amuse you: I played once at a recital in the old Town Hall…  And I played two groups, and in each group there was something that I’d written myself — as you know there are awfully few solos for the viola — and I think I also played some duets. But anyhow, I wanted rather to play another piece I had written, and I thought this is too silly to put my name down — this was before the viola sonata affair — it seemed too silly to put my name down still once more. So I thought I’ll invent a name. So I went through the rivers of England until I came across what I thought seemed like a handy surname and I took the name Trent …  And I took the first name Anthony because I liked that name. And this is one for Women’s Lib, because although the piece by Anthony Trent was not particularly good, it had much more attention paid to it than the pieces that I had written, I mean in my own name, which was rather a joke. And people would ask me about Anthony Trent and I was rather self-conscious at having invented him, and I would blush –I still could blush in those days — I would blush and I could see in their faces that they thought, ‘Ah, yes, there’s a romance somewhere,’ you know.



3 – [pp. 176-177 — When asked why she hadn’t kept composing:]

Clarke:  I wanted to, but I couldn’t. …  I had lots of sketches of things. I know and I miss it, very much.  Because there is nothing in the world—do you compose?

Sherman:  No, I’m afraid not, no.

Clarke:  There’s nothing in the world more thrilling, or practically nothing. But you can’t do it unless—at least I can’t; maybe that’s where a woman’s different—I can’t do it unless it’s the first thing I think of every morning when I wake and the last thing I think of every night before I go to sleep. And I have it on my mind all the time. And if one allows too many other things to take over, one is liable not to be able to do it. That’s been my experience.