Clarke, Herbert L. (Herbert Lincoln) (1867-1945) | University of Illinois Archives
Herbert L. Clarke (1867-1945), cornetist, composer, bandleader and educator was considered the King of the cornet in his day. He first studied the violin at the age of 5 and at 13 began playing professionally in the Philharmonic Society Orchestra of Toronto. At the same time he began to study the cornet and soon began to play it professionally in a restaurant band and in the Queen's Own Regimental Band. After a move to Indianapolis, Clarke learned to play the viola and subsequently joined the England's Opera House Orchestra and played cornet in the When Clothing Store Band. It was with this band that in 1886 Clarke won a solo cornet contest and received a one-of-a-kind pocket cornet made by the famous instrument maker, Henry Diston, which can be seen at the Sousa Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign.
Clarke moved to New York City in 1892 where he briefly played for the Gilmore Band. In 1893, Clarke became the solo cornet player for the John Philip Sousa Band and later became the assistant conductor, composer and arranger. He performed as soloist for 3 of the 4 European Tours and 1910-1911 World Tour. During the off-seasons Clarke pursued his own musical endeavors. These included conducting the Reeve's Concert Band in Providence, RI, recording his solo cornet compositions, duets, and quartets with the Victor Label, and playing 2nd Trumpet with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
After leaving Sousa's Band, he became the conductor of the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company Band in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, and later moved to California and conducted the historic Long Beach Municipal Band until his death in 1945. Rarely after the age of 50 did he perform the cornet in public. He published several articles and books about the cornet and method books on cornet playing and of particular notice are his early drafts of these methods books and articles.