Clay, Frederic (Emes)

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Clay, Frederic (Emes)

Clay, Frederic (Emes),English composer; b. Paris (of English parents), Aug. 3, 1838; d. Great Mar-low, near London, Nov. 24, 1889. He was a student of Molique in Paris and of Hauptmann in Leipzig. He began his career as a British civil servant. After composing incidental music to Tom Taylor’s play Court and Cottage (London, 1862), he devoted himself mainly to composing for the theater. His collaboration with the librettist W.S. Gilbert on Ages Ago (London, Nov. 22, 1869) proved a fine success. Clay collaborated with others in composing Babil and Bijou (London, Aug. 29, 1872), for which he wrote the successful song Nobody Knows as I Know. With Gilbert again as librettist, he wrote Princess Toto (Nottingham, June 26, 1872), which was successfully heard abroad. With George Sims as librettist, he composed his most celebrated score in The Merry Duchess (London, April 23, 1883), which was also mounted successfully abroad. Their final collaboration, The Golden Ring (London, Dec. 3, 1883), likewise was received well. Soon after its premiere, Clay suffered a stroke, which ended his career.


DRAMATIC: Musical Theater (all 1st perf. in London unless otherwise given): Constance (Jan. 23, 1865); The Bold Recruit (Canterbury, Aug. 4, 1868); Ages Ago (Nov. 22, 1869); The Gentleman in Black (May 26, 1870); Happy Arcadia (Oct. 28, 1872); Babil and Bijou (Aug. 29, 1872; in collaboration with Hervé, J. Rivière, and J.-J. de Billemont); Ali Baba à la Mode (Sept. 14, 1872; in collaboration with J. Mallan-daine, G. Richardson, and G. Goldsmith); The Black Crook (Dec. 23, 1872; in collaboration with G. Jacobi); Oriana (Feb. 16, 1873); Canarina (Manchester, Aug. 17, 1874); Don Quixote (Sept. 25, 1876); Princess Toto (Nottingham, June 26, 1876); The MerryDuchess (April 23, 1883); The Golden Ring (Dec. 3, 1883); also incidental music to Monsieur Jacques (1876) and The Squire (1881). vocal: cantatas:Lallah Rookh (Brighton Festival, 1877; includes the well-known aria I’ll Sing Thee Songs of Araby) and Saradanapalus (Leeds Festival, 1882). other: Many songs, including She Wandered Down the Mountainside, The Sands of Dee, and Tis Better Not to Know.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire