Herbert L. Clarke


Induction: February 2, 1980

World famous cornet soloist with the John Philip Sousa Band and Director the Long Beach (California) Municipal Band.  Set many standards for professional bands.  Considered by many musicians to be the greatest cornet player of all time.  His recordings made in the 1930’s are still sold today.  His book, “Clarke Technical Studies,” is considered one of the bibles for cornet players.  Very close friend to John Philip Sousa.  Past President of the American Bandmasters Association.


Quick Facts

Birthplace: Woburn, Massachusetts

Son of William Clarke, a composer and organist

Clarke’s first instrument: Violin

2nd violinist in the Toronto Philharmonic Society by 1881

Discovered the cornet after attending a concert of D.W. Reeves’ American Band of Providence, RI at the Horticultural Pavillion in Toronto 1881.

Cornetist in the Queen’s Own Rifle Band in 1882

Played both viola and 2nd cornet in the pit orchestra of English’s Opera House in Indianapolis, IN

Joined the Queen’s Own at the age of 14 (legal age is 18) in order to obtain his first cornet.

Won a solo cornet contest with When Clothing Store Band in 1886.  Prize was a one of a kind pocket cornet made by the famous instrument maker, Henry Diston. It is  on display at the Sousa Archives and the Center for American Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In September 1889 he married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Loudon, with whom he had two children: Vivian (Grace) in 1890 and James (Edward James Watkin) in 1892

In 1893, he joined John Philip Sousa’s Band as a cornet soloist

Held temporary positions in the New York Philharmonic (2nd trumpet) and Metropolitan Opera(Principal trumpet)

Divorced Lizzie Loudon and married Lillian Bell Hause.  He had 2 more children, Ruby Bell and Herbert L. Clarke, Jr.

Resigned from Sousa’s Band in September 1917 and returned to Canada to lead the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company Band in Huntsville, Ontario from 1918 to 1923

In 1923, he moved to Long Beach, California to conduct the Long Beach Municipal Band until 1943

His ashes were interred near the gravesite of John Philip Sousa in the Congressional  Cemetary in Washington, D.C.