Rebecca Clarke's Sonata for Viola and Piano: Analytical Perspectives from Feminist Theory

Date of Completion

January 2011


Music|Women's Studies




Though the majority of Rebecca Clarke's compositions were written in the first three decades of the twentieth century, her work was largely unknown until the 1970s. Interest in her writing has grown steadily since that time, and a number of her works have entered the standard viola repertoire, including her Viola Sonata. Because many of her pieces have only recently become widely available, published analyses are somewhat limited. Musicologists exploring her compositions tend to be interested in the implications of gender on analysis. Questions posed by a feminist theory approach to musicology are particularly apt considering the timing of her prolific composing years as well as the revival of interest in her music. She wrote primarily during the time of first-wave feminism in England and was rediscovered during second-wave feminism in America. This analysis addresses the Viola Sonata from three different perspectives suggested by feminist theory: critique of coded sonata form, exploration of a performer's perspective, and discussion of the cultural background of the composer and the Viola Sonata. ^