Clara Clemens was born in Elmira,
New York in 1874. She was the second daughter of Samuel Langhorne
Clemens (Mark Twain) and Olivia Langdon. Her education
included home schooling during her younger years, public high school in Hartford, Connecticut; and a boarding school in
Berlin. In 1895 she accompanied her famous father on his around-the-world lecture tour.
In 1896 the entire family moved to Vienna, Austria so Clara could study piano.
She eventually gave up the piano for opera but Austria is where she met her
future husband, Ossip
Gabrilowitsch, a Russian pianist studying in Vienna.
Clara and Ossip had a long distance friendship for many years including
an on again, off again engagement. Her mother died in 1905 and she had
a "nervous breakdown." In 1909, Clara and Ossip resumed their
relationship when Ossip came to the Clemens home in Redding, Connecticut to
recuperate from surgery he had in New York City. By October that year
they were married, just a short time before Samuel Clemens death in 1910.
As the only surviving Clemens child, she inherited all of her father's
estate. Clara was already pregnant with her only child, a girl,
Nina, who Samuel never got to see.
The new family spent most of their time in Europe but in 1918 moved to Detroit, Michigan, where Ossip
became the director of the Detroit's Symphony Orchestra, a position he held
for the remainder of his life. Clara would occasionally sing and act in
local theater groups but her professional performing days were over.
After a long career as director and a world renowned pianist, Ossip died in 1936 from stomach cancer, at the age of 58.
He had a long painful illness and Clara and usually Nina were by his side.
However neither attended his funeral. Soon after Clara and Nina sailed
to Europe. In 1939 Clara moved
to Los Angeles. Eight years after Ossip's death she remarried another Russian musician,
Jacques Samossaud, whom she had met with Ossip years before he died..
She and Jacques moved to San Diego but they continued to visit Clara's Lucia
relative, Ira Clemens Lucia, in Detroit from time to time and
to attend the Detroit Symphony. In 1962, at the age of 88, Clara died in San