Clarke, Herbert L.

Herbert L. (Lincoln) Clarke. Cornetist, bandmaster, violinist, violist, composer, b Woburn, Mass, 12 Sep 1867, d Long Beach, Cal, 30 Jan 1945. His father, William Horatio Clarke (1840-1913), was appointed organist-choirmaster at Jarvis St Baptist Church, Toronto, in 1880. Three sons, Ernest, Edwin, and Will, joined the regimental band of the Queen's Own Rifles. Herbert, the youngest son, envied their accomplishments and taught himself to play the cornet by studying the Arban method. He organized a small orchestra which played at church socials. He practised the violin and viola and at 13 joined the orchestra of the Toronto Philharmonic Society. He also played in string trios and quartets, and at 14 occupied the last chair in the 12-man cornet section of the Queen's Own Rifles Band. After a year in Minneapolis, he returned in 1886 as solo cornet to the Rifles band. That same year he joined the Citizens' Band of Toronto. He later organized the Heintzman Piano Company Band and in 1888 he was engaged to teach and conduct the newly formed Taylor Safe Works Band. Also in 1888 he became an instructor at the new Toronto College of Music.

By the 1890s Clarke was recognized as one of the leading cornetists of the time. In 1891 or 1892 he became cornet soloist in the famous 22nd Regiment (US) Band under Patrick Gilmore. In April 1893, seven months after Gilmore's death, he played with that band under Victor Herbert, and then joined John Philip Sousa's Band, where he was first a cornet soloist and eventually an assistant director. He maintained his contact with Herbert until 1897 and with Sousa until 1917. Clarke returned to Canada, where he served 1918-23 as leader of the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company (later Anglo-Canadian Concert) Band of Huntsville, Ont, and then moved to Long Beach, Cal. There he conducted the Municipal Band until shortly before his death.

Clarke recorded most of his 50-odd solo cornet compositions, including Bride of the Waves (recorded five times, the earliest in 1904), Sounds from the Hudson (1904), Caprice Brilliante (1908), Southern Cross (1911), and Stars in a Velvety Sky (1911); his performances of these and four of his other works, together with one work each by Jules Levy and Victor Herbert, were re-issued ca 1979 on Crystal Records S450. A Swiss group, Le Virtuose romantique, has recorded his Cousins and Twilight Dreams (Harmonia Mundi France HMC-905209-CD).He also composed more than 50 marches and 10 overtures for band. He wrote three volumes of Studies for the Cornet: Elementary, Technical, and Characteristic (Huntsville 1909-15; rev ed New York 1934-6), Setting-Up Drills for Calisthenic Exercises, a short autobiography, How I Became a Cornetist (St Louis, Mo, 1934; repr 1973), and, 1927-30, a series of 24 autobiographical articles in the periodical Jacob's Orchestra and Band Monthly entitled 'A cornet playing pilgrim's progress'. Publishers of his compositions included Whaley Royce, C. Fischer, Witmark, Fillmore, and Belwin. As a soloist Clarke recorded for Berliner, Victor, Columbia, Brunswick, and other companies; he also conducted the Sousa Band for Edison (cylinders) and Victor. His recordings are listed in Roll Back the Years. Clarke's papers, scores and memorabilia are held at the Dept of Bands, U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.