‘Rebecca, you have saved the viola!’ - Letters to the editor: October 2023


A selection of letters The Strad receives each month from its readers around the world: October 2023 issue

Life of a violist

Lionel Tertis (above) may have been a saint in many ways, but he did Rebecca Clarke no favours as a composer, as Shiry Rashkovsky suggests in her article ‘Seeking Utopia: celebrating the friendship between Tertis and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ (bit.ly/47jorQ3). According to Clarke, Tertis swept into the artists’ room after the concert when she introduced her already world-famous Viola Sonata to London, bellowing, ‘Rebecca, you have saved the viola!’ He immediately secured permission to perform the piece himself, relied on Clarke to help him find a substitute when his chosen pianist proved inadequate, performed it precisely once, never touched it again, and never – to Clarke’s disgust – mentioned it in any of his books, which effectively defined the standard repertoire for generations…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.