Nora Clench | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Nora Clench

Esther Leonora Clench, violinist (born 6 May 1867 in St. Marys, ON; died 17 May 1938 in Toorak, Australia).

Esther Leonora Clench, violinist (born 6 May 1867 in St. Marys, ON; died 17 May 1938 in Toorak, Australia). Nora Clench was an internationally renowned violinist. After studying at the Leipzig Conservatory with Adolf Brodsky, she undertook a career as a concert violinist and eventually established her own string quartet. She retired in 1908 after marrying Australian painter Sir Arthur Streeton.

Early Years

Clench began violin lessons with her father, a lawyer and amateur violinist, and as a child and teenager performed throughout Southern Ontario. She also studied with J.W. Baumann, at first intermittently and then regularly for two years when she boarded at Loretto Academy in Hamilton. She was a pupil 1884–89 of Adolf Brodsky at the Leipzig Conservatory and graduated with a diploma and a prize for excellence. From 1889 to 1891 she performed in Canada and the United States, and was first violin of an orchestra in Buffalo, New York.

Career Highlights

In 1891, she studied with Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and appeared in several concerts in Europe. In 1892 she moved to London, England, where she gave many successful recitals and a command performance before Queen Victoria, who presented her with “a handsome diamond and ruby brooch” (London Times, 10 February 1893). She toured briefly in Canada in the fall of 1893, and accompanied Dame Emma Albani on tours of Australia and South Africa in 1898. Henry James Morgan's Canadian Men and Women of the Time (1898) described Clench's playing thus: “tone broad, pure, resonant; style severely classical and correct.” In 1904, she organized the Nora Clench Quartet, a female string quartet which performed new works as well as standard repertoire, and in 1907 premiered Max Reger's Quartet in D Minor in England.


Clench retired in 1908 when she married the acclaimed Australian landscape painter Sir Arthur Streeton. She returned with him to Australia in 1924 and took the title Lady Streeton when he was knighted in 1937.

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

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