1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clay, Frederic
CLAY, FREDERIC (1838–1889), English musical composer, the son of James Clay, M.P., who was celebrated as a player of whist and a writer on that subject, was born in Paris on the 3rd of August 1838. He studied music under W. B. Molique in Paris and Moritz Hauptmann at Leipzig. With the exception of a few songs and two cantatas, The Knights of the Cross (1866) and Lalla Rookh (1877),—the latter of which contained his well-known song “I’ll sing thee songs of Araby,”—his compositions were all written for the stage. Clay’s first public appearance was made with an opera entitled Court and Cottage, the libretto of which was written by Tom Taylor. This was produced at Covent Garden in 1862, and was followed by Constance (1865), Ages Ago (1869), and Princess Toto (1875), to name only three of many works which have long since been forgotten. The last two, which were written to libretti by W. S. Gilbert, are among Clay’s most tuneful and most attractive works. He wrote part of the music for Babil and Bijou (1872) and The Black Crook (1873), both of which were produced at the Alhambra. He also furnished incidental music for a revival of Twelfth Night and for the production of James Albery’s Oriana. His last works, The Merry Duchess (1883) and The Golden Ring (1883), the latter written for the reopening of the Alhambra, which had been burned to the ground the year before, showed an advance upon his previous work, and rendered all the more regrettable the stroke of paralysis which crippled his physical and mental energies during the last few years of his life. He died at Great Marlow on the 24th of November 1889.