Beyond any question, boyhood associations and surroundings, particularly the closely intimate ones of home relationships, have a strong bearing upon the molding of a man the marking and making of his future career. Therefore, at this point of my autobiographical story it perhaps is as well to briefly outline my immediate family circle, for it had much to do with my career with my love of band music as a boy, and from the very beginning when I entered this world placed me in a musical environment that playe a large part in turning me to the musically artistic as a life profession.
My father was William Horatio Clarke, a celebrated organist, a writer, composer and genius, who could play almost every stringed and wind instrument. He was a very quiet man, yet nevertheless was full of fun, a fine entertainer, and very fond of his children. There were five boys in the family, I being the fourth, and as far back as I can remember, our father used to play all kinds of games with us every night before we retired. Four of us were closely connected in so far as ages were concerned; the eldest being my senior by only five years, with the other two falling in between. So we all had good times together as youngsters, but with no thoughts in those earlier years of ever following music professionally.
As my brothers will be brought into this story occasionally (all of us growing up in the musical atmosphere created by our good father), and as perhaps pointing out how the playing together of us four brothers for our own amusement and fun in the early days was a factor in shaping my career, I will make the readers acquainted with their individual identity.
The first son was Will, who later became a fine organist and pianist, but who did not make music a profession, as have the other three, and now a successful business man.
The second son, Edwin, started music with the violin and later took up the cornet, but completed the study of the violin and has been an orchestra leader for years. He was bandmaster of the Twenty-first Infantry of the Regular Army and served in Cuba throughout the Spanish-American War. Later on he played cornet in Sousa's Band, and after giving up professional playing served for seven years as Mr.Sousa's general manager.
The third son, Ernest, is a trombone player of note. He was solo trombonist in Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore's great aggregation up to the time of that famous bandmasters death, and afterwards became associated with the late Victor Herbert. He entered into the orchestral field, and played in the New York Symphony Orchestra under Dr. Walter Damrosch for some fifteen years. My father, although a really fine organist and pianist, as I have said before, never ceased to be a devoted student of these instruments, practicing for hours daily. When only a mere child, I used to be awakened in the early hours of every morning by hearing him practice such music as the Bach Fugues and other organ and piano compositions, all of high standard and classical nature.
My father was so thorough in his study and work that he never was quite satisfied with himself, but was ever striving to becom more perfect in his technic,