Sabrina Clarke is a composer, theorist, pianist, and music educator based in Philadelphia.


I enjoy exploring the creative worlds of twentieth-century composers, especially those who adopted the twelve-tone system. My research is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing from the fields of literature, hermeneutics, and philosophy. I am also interested in how the work of twentieth-century female composers shows the intersection of ecomusicology and gendered representations of the natural world.

Please reference the Schedule page of this site for a list of recent and upcoming speaking engagements and conferences.

One of my research areas is the concept of temporality in Luigi Dallapiccola’s twelve-tone music. My Ph.D. dissertation (Temple University 2016) analyzes Dallapiccola’s Canti di liberazione, exploring how intertextual and compositional devices such as retrograde, cross-partitioning, motivic recurrence, and rhythmic figuration parallel author James Joyce’s nonlinear narrative techniques in Ulysses. My temporal analysis of Liberazione shows how linear characteristics such as stepwise pitch relationships, homophony, and triadic gestures are juxtaposed with nonlinear characteristics like pedal points, “floating rhythm,” proportions, and polarity. I show how linearity and nonlinearity exist at different structural levels.

In 2015, I was the recipient of the Presser Graduate Music Award, a $10,000 grant with which I conducted archival research at the Fondo Luigi Dallapiccola of the Archivio Contemporaneo Bonsanti in Florence, Italy, and at the Dallapiccola/Dwight Collection at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.  

My forthcoming book extends my analysis to Dallapiccola’s later works,  in order to show how his temporal ideas developed over time. I am especially interested in how various works demonstrate his lifelong affinity for James Joyce through palindromic structures, arrangement that resembles Joycean “wordplay,” intertextuality, simultaneity through juxtaposition, and other means. I trace these musical parallels along the trajectory of Dallapiccola’s compositional developments from the 1940’s to his death. 

Another research focus of mine is the work of Amy Beach. I am especially interested in her prolific output for piano, and how it relates to nature and its associations with gender and politics. I have recently written about gendered nationalism and female agency in Amy Beach’s Eskimos (1907), exploring how Beach's use of Inuit song relates to her predilection for nature themes. More broadly, my continuing research examines how Beach's synesthetic associations interact with nature imagery, key schemes, and evocations of the female voice in her piano music. 


At the Music and Meaning Symposium, University of Florida

At the Music and Meaning Symposium, University of Florida

amy beach poster 2017.jpg