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Clarence Lucas (Composer, Arranger)

Born: October 19, 1866 - Six Nations Reserve, near Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Died: July 1, 1947 - Sèvres, near Paris, France

The Canadian Composer, conductor, and writer, Clarence (Reynolds) Lucas, was the eldest child of Rev D.V. Lucas, a widely travelled Methodist minister. He lived in several small Ontario towns before his parents settled in Montreal in 1878. There he studied piano, organ, and violin and organized a school orchestra. Although offered a scholarship to McGill University to study for the ministry, he preferred to work as conductor of an amateur orchestra, trombonist in a theatre orchestra, organist in various churches, and violinist in the Montreal Philharmonic Society.

In 1885 Clarence Lucas gave a piano recital in Queen's Hall. Shortly thereafter he went to England. On hearing Anton Rubinstein he abandoned his dream of becoming a concert pianist. Lucas then studied privately in Paris with Georges-Eugène Marty, and at the conservatoire with Théodore Dubois, returning (1888) to Toronto to teach harmony and counterpoint at the Toronto College of Music. Lucas' first wife, the English pianist Clara Asher who had studied with Clara Schumann, made her Toronto debut on December 7, 1888 at the college. In 1889 Lucas became music director of the Wesleyan Ladies College in Hamilton and revived the Hamilton Philharmonic Society, conducting performances of Messiah (December 1889) and Sir Michael Costa's oratorio Eli (April 1890). In 1893 he received B MUS from the University of Toronto.

Clarence Lucas taught from 1890 to 1892 in Utica, NY, before returning in 1893 to London, where he read proofs and revised manuscripts for Chappell and prepared a new vocal score of Charles Gounod's Faust. He also taught theory and composition privately (his pupils including Mark Hambourg and Jan Hambourg and the famous French woman ballad writer Guy d'Hardelot) and conducted from 1902 to 1904 the Westminster Society. In 1903 he became London correspondent for the Musical Courier of New York, an association which continued in various forms for 30 years. In 1904 he composed and conducted an Irish musical Peggy Machree, starring Denis O'Sullivan, and in 1905 he conducted with George Edwardes Gaiety Productions in London and on tour in the British Isles.

Clarence Lucas was engaged by the USA actor Richard Mansfield to arrange and conduct Grieg's incidental music for Ibsen's Peer Gynt at its USA premiere in 1906 in New York. He then toured the USA with the production. His second wife, Gertrude Pidd, was a member of the company. Following Mansfield's death in 1907, Lucas conducted Peggy Machree on a short USA tour. In New York he was from 1907 to 1919 on the editorial staff of the Musical Courier, conducted musicals for George M. Cohan, and composed songs and keyboard pieces, some of a popular nature. He was also the lyricist for songs (including The Perfect Song) by Joseph Carl Breil that were used as incidental music (published 1916) for D.W. Griffith's film Intolerance.

Moving in 1919 to London and in 1923 to Sèvres, Clarence Lucas freelanced as a transcriber, arranger, lyricist, and translator. He organized and participated in musicales of the Students' Atelier at the American Church of Paris and remained Paris correspondent to Musical Courier until 1933. He also wrote for the USA music periodical Etude. Returning in 1933 to London he concentrated once again on composition while continuing editorial tasks.

Clarence Lucas' songs and piano pieces in a popular vein do not reveal the depth of his abilities and tend to create the impression that he composed mostly 'light' music. In fact his major works, of which surviving copies are rare, established his reputation according to London's Morning Post as 'an accomplished musician and earnest composer' (September 21, 1898). Leschetizky is said to have remarked to Mark Hambourg that the Prelude and Fugue, Op. 38 had the best modern fugue for piano. The opera The Money Spider, the cantata The Birth of Christ, and the overtures to Othello, As You Like It, and Macbeth were performed in several British and North American cities to favourable comment, eg, 'The melodies he writes have vitality and beauty and appeal to musician and layman alike. From this it is not to be concluded he is not a master of all resources of modern harmony and orchestration. He can be as modern as the most rabid anti-classicist could desire' (Chicago Tribune, February 1901). Like Lavallée, Lucas in his day was Canada's most versatile composer. His son was the British composer and conductor Leighton Lucas (1903-1982).


Stage Works
The Money Spider, opera (c1897)
Anne Hathaway, opera (?) (before 1898)
Peggy Machree, musical play (1904. J. Church 1904)
At least 2 other operas (?): Arabia and Semiramis

As You Like It, Op. 35, overture (Chap 1899. RCI 233 (CBC Winnipeg Orchestra))
Macbeth, Op. 39, overture (Chap c1900; CMH vol 8)
The Birth of Christ, Op. 41, cantata (Chap 1901)
Others, including Othello (overture), a symphony, and 2 symphonic poems

Élégie, Op. 30. Vn, piano (Breitkopf & Härtel 1895)
Ballade, Op. 40. Vn, piano (orch) (Chap 1901)
Légende, Op. 42. Vn, piano (Schott 1903)
Five Lyrical Pieces, Op. 48. Vn, piano (Schott 1908)
Three Impromptus, Op. 70. Vn (Bevan Music Prod 1938)
Ballade, Op. 71. Vn, piano (Lucas 1939)
Other works published by Donajowski in 1892

Deux Morceaux, Op. 2 (Suckling 1889; (No. 2) CMH vol 6)
Deux Mazurkas, Op. 13 (Nord 1890; CMH vol 6)
Praeludium et fuga, Op. 32 (Forsyth Brothers 1898; CMH vol 6)
Prelude and Fugue, Op. 38 (Chap 1900; G. Schirmer 1916)
Valse Impromptu, Op. 44 (Presser 1904; CMH vol 6)
Epithalamium, Op. 54 (Chap 1913)
Ariel, Op. 55 (Chap 1913; G. Schirmer 1914; CMH vol 6)
Holiday Sketches, Op. 61. (No. 4) (Boosey 1915)
Saga, Ein isländisches Märchen, Op. 25 (Breitkopf & Härtel no date)

Deux Pièces pour grand orgue, Op. 27 (Schott ca 1896; (No. 2) CMH vol 4)
Trois Morceaux pour grand orgue, Op. 36 (Schott ca 1900; (No. 2) CMH vol 4)
Canadian Wedding March, Op. 66 (Chap 1917)
Two Compositions for Organ, Op. 73 (Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew 1941)
Seven Short Pieces, Op. 75 (Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew 1945)

Other works for piano and organ published by Naux, Breitkopf & Härtel, Presser, Augener, Chap, Schott, Michael Reane; many others without op no., some published

The Bells, Op. 56. Madrigal (Boosey 1913)
Battle Ode, Op. 65. Part song (Boosey 1915)

Others with and without op no., some published by Leonard, Gould & Bolttler, and Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew

Two Lyrics, Op. 8 (Ashdown 1889; CMH vol 3)
When Comes the Spring (J.L. Lewis) (Ditson 1891; CMH vol 3)
Album of Six Baritone Songs, Op. 29 (Chap 1894; (No. 1) CMH vol 3)
Mädchenherz (Oscar Meyer) (Chap 1897; CMH vol 3)
Five Songs, Op. 45. Med voice. (J. Church 1904)

Several other vocal pieces without op no.; also many arr, including
Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 15, no. 2 for voice, with words by Lucas; vocal scores of Charles Gounod's Faust, Monckton's Country Girl, etc

Recordings of Song of Songs and The Perfect Song (of which Lucas was lyricist) are listed in Roll Back the Years.

The Story of Musical Form (London 1908, repr Boston 1977)
Many articles and reports for Etude and Musical Courier


Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia 2007 Historica Foundation of Canada (Author: Sharyn Lea Hall)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2007)

Clarence Lucas: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Lucas, Clarence (Encyclopedia of Music in Canada)

Clarence Lucas (Wikipedia)
Canadian Composer Rediscovered and Repatriated (LAC-BAC)



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