March 25

The main works of the program will consist of the Suite B. 41 by Ernst Bloch and the Viola Sonata by Rebecca Clarke. It is of historical interest to place the two monumental works side by side. They were both submitted for a composition competition in 1919 sponsored by Elizabeth Sprauge Coolidge, a neighbor of Clarke. Out of 72 entries, Clarke’s Sonata tied for first with a piece by the Swiss composer, Ernest Bloch. In the end Bloch was declared the winner, despite all the judges favouring Clarke—it was decided that declaring Clarke the winner would smack of favoritism on Coolidge’s part. It was also suspected by some that the name “Rebecca Clarke” was a pen-name of a male composer, as few imagined the possibility of a competent woman writing such music. Here is what Clarke herself wrote about it: “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 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 for Ernest Bloch.”