Inspiring Musicianship: String Playing Influences in H.L. Clarke’s Characteristic Studies

The following are resources from a presentation as part of the 2023 International Trumpet Guild Conference Research Room. For more background information, read the presentation abstract.

In the introduction to his Characteristic Studies, Clarke alludes to his source of inspiration for his etudes:

…I made a thorough study of violin methods and exercises, and adapting much of the material I found therein, for the needs of Cornet players. As a practical result the Twenty-four Characteristic Studies contained in this book, while of difficult grade, have been adapted from existing violin studies.

In fact, Clarke’s inspiration was Heinrich Ernst Kayser’s book of 36 Studies for violin published in 1848. All but two of Clarke’s etudes (16 and 24) can be traced back to an etude by Kayser.

Clarke/Kayser Comparison Chart

Clarke EtudeKeyMarkingKayser EtudeKeyMarking
1C MajorAllegro moderato4C MajorAllegro
2a minorAllegro28a minorAllegro assai
3D-flat MajorAllegro risoluto11E-flat MajorAllegro energico
4b-flat minorAllegro misterioso25d minorAllegro
5D MajorModerato energico8D MajorCommodo
6b minorModerato marcato19b minorAllegro
7E-flat MajorAllegro moderato32E-flat MajorAllegro moderato
8c minorAllegro agitato6c minorAllegro molto
9E MajorAllegretto guisto3F MajorAllegretto
10c-sharp minorAllegro moderato30d minorAllegro moderato
11F MajorAllegretto13G MajorAllegretto
12d minorAllegro moderato15B-flat majorAllegro moderato
13F-sharp MajorVivace22E MajorAllegro assai
14e-flat minorAllegretto con moto18G MajorAllegretto
15G MajorAllegro ma non troppo12G MajorAllegro, ma non tanto
16e minorTempo di BoleroAppears to be original to Clarke
17A-flat MajorModerato31A-flat MajorAllegro molto agitato
18f minorModerato23f minorAllegretto
19A MajorAllegro vivace27A MajorAllegro vivace
20f-sharp minorFurioso21E-flat MajorAllegro
21B-flat MajorModerato10C MajorAllegro, ma non tanto
22g minorAllegretto35b minorAllegro con fuoco
23B MajorModerato29C MajorModerato
24g-sharp minorAndante cantabileAppears to be original to Clarke

Examples for Comparison

Continuing in the introduction to the Characteristic Studies, Clarke emphasizes several goals of the studies including:

…absolute control of technic, articulation, slurring and endurance….

…[the studies] will help the student play with comfort and ease….

Cornet players should…try to demonstrate their own musical and artistic individuality.

Ex. 1: “articulation”

Kayser Etude #28
Clarke Etude #2

Ex. 2: “slurring”

Kayser Etude #25
Clarke Etude #4

Ex. 3: “absolute control of technic”

Kayser Etude #32
Clarke Etude #7

Ex. 4: “comfort and ease”

Kayser Etude #30
Clarke Etude #10

Ex. 5: “musical and artistic individuality”

Kayser Etude #10
Clarke Etude #21

Sources and Resources


Clarke, Herbert L. How I Became a Cornetist. St. Louis: Joseph Huber, 1934.

Da Silva, Ulisses Carvalho. “Original and Transcribed Etude Books for Viola: A Reference Guide for Teachers and Students.” Ph.D. diss., University of Georgia, 2010.

Gillotti, Nicole. “Exploring Parallels between Trumpet and Violin Pedagogy: Relating Trumpet Adaptations of Otakar Ševčík’s Op. 8 to the Teachings of Vincent Cichowicz.” DMA diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2020.

Madeja, James Thomas. “The Herbert L. Clarke Method of Cornet Playing” International Trumpet Guild Journal 14, no. 3 (February 1990): 4–18.

———. “The Life and Work of Herbert L. Clarke (1867-1945).” Ed.D. diss., University of Illinois, 1988.

Clarke Recordings

Schwartz, Terry. Characteristic Studies by Herbert L. Clarke. N.P., 2010, compact disc.

Wilt, Jim.  Clarke (or Clark) Characteristic Etudes 1, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 21.

Kayser Recordings

Cruz, Claudio. Kayser: 36 Violin Studies, Op. 20. Azul Music, 2020.

Kang, Bochan.  Kayser Violin 36 Etudes.


Clarke, Herbert L. Characteristic Studies. New York: Carl Fischer, 1915.

Kayser, Heinrich Ernst. Elementary and Progressive Studies for the Violin, Op. 20. New York: Schirmer, 1915.

Full side by side compilation of Clarke’s studies with corresponding studies by Kayser:

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