Ossip, Clara, and Sam
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Ossip, Clara, and Sam

Ossip Gabrilowitsch (1876-1936), a famous pianist, conductor, and composer, was so madly in love with Clara Clemens that someone claimed that he suffered from “Delirium Clemens.”
They had been engaged three times – and not married. But when he became seriously ill and was about to undergo an operation for mastoiditis at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, Clara rushed to his side – and agreed, once again, to become engaged. Clara’s father scoffed, “What, again?”
Clara’s father.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
Mark Twain.

Ossip was born in Russia and trained as a pianist with a number of famous teachers.
Like many other famous people, he “had a brief but passionate fling with Mahler’s wife” (“Mark Twain: The Man in White,” Michael Shelden).
Coming to the United States, Ossip pined over Clara for many years, then married her in 1909 (she was getting over an affair with a married man). A year later, they had a daughter, Nina.
A contralto, Clara tried to have a singing career, but wasn’t especially successful. In 1917, Ossip became the founding director of the Detroit Symphony.
Also in 1917, he was conducting an orchestra in Munich. Following a pogram in Munich in 1917, he was jailed. The papal nuncio, later Pope Pius XII, helped get him released.
Ossip died of stomach cancer in 1936. He is buried in Elmira, N.Y., with Clara and with Mark Twain.
Nina ““ sadly — died in 1966 in a Los Angeles hotel, possibly a suicide from drugs and alcohol. She was the last lineal descendant of Mark Twain.
Ossip and Twain had gotten along famously.
Shelden writes:
Twain “liked the young Russian and enjoyed debating political questions with him.” While they often disagreed, they “were in complete accord, however, on the evil effects of racial prejudice. When Ossip – who was Jewish – brought up the issue of the ‘persecutions and brutal injustice’ that his people haad suffered, Twain responded that anti-Semitism arose from ‘the swollen envy of pigmy minds.'”

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