Clement Harris

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Clement Harris (Clement Hugh Gilbert Harris, 1871–1897) was an English pianist and composer who studied in Germany and died fighting in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.

He was born in Wimbledon and educated at Harrow School. He subsequently studied music in Frankfurt, where he was a piano pupil of Clara Schumann. He became intimate friends with Siegfried Wagner (gay son of the composer Richard Wagner and grandson of Franz Liszt). In 1892 they undertook a trip to the far East together and fell deeply in love. At the onset of their tour, which began in London, Clement introduced Siegfried to Oscar Wilde.[1] During the voyage Harris sketched his symphonic poem Paradise Lost, after Milton, and encouraged Siegfried Wagner choose a composing and conducting career rather than as an architect. An enthusiastic admirer of Greek culture, he was travelling in Greece at the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish war and organized his own battalion of mercenaries to fight on the Greek side. He was killed at Pente Pigadia on 23 April 1897 at the age of 25. Harris's death was commemorated by the poet Stefan George in the poem "Pente Pigadia" in his collection Der siebente Ring.[2]

Clement Harris's works included pieces for piano, including Il pensieroso and L'Allegro after Milton, romances for violin and piano and clarinet, cello and piano, and songs.[3] His diaries were published in German by the scholar Claus Bock.[4]

In 1922–23 Siegfried Wagner composed the symphonic poem Glück as a memorial to Harris. He kept a photo of Harris on his desk for the rest of his life. In his 1923 autobiography, Wagner joyfully recalled his travels with "Clementchen" (a German term of endearment best translated as “dear little Clement”) and mentioned their sharing a bed like "Orestes and Pylades," a mythological gay couple. He recalled their travels to Singapore, where they found an idyllic spot for nude bathing like "two Adams."[1]


Partly based on a Wikipedia article

  1. 1.0 1.1 Gay Influence, "Composer Clement Harris"
  2. Peter P Pachl, liner notes to Classic Produktion Osnabrück 999 366-2
  3. Entry in Everyman's Dictionary of Music ed. Eric Blom, 5th edition, revised by Sir Jack Westrup (London: JM Dent & Sons, 1974) ISBN 0-460-03022-1
  4. Claus Bock, Pente Pigadia und die Tagebücher des Clement Harris (Amsterdam, 1962).