CLEMENT HAMBOURG

(b. London 1900 – d. Toronto 1973)

Clement Hambourg Affectionately known as the “black sheep” of the family, Clem grew up in the surroundings of the Hambourg Conservatory in London and Toronto. Trained by his father Michael, he made his concert debut in 1925 and collaborated with his brother Boris in many concerts throughout Canada. Clem was married in 1928 to Kathleen FitzGerald, a writer, with whom he had one son, Klemi, (Dr. Klement Hambourg).

His second marriage was to Ruth Hopkins, a singer and connoisseur of fine art, and together they founded in 1946 the House of Hambourg, one of the first after-hours jazz clubs in Toronto, Originally located at Bloor and Yonge Streets and later in the basement of the Ward Price Galleries, it became the musical home of many jazz artists such as Norman Amadio and Gordon Delamont who later became intenationally famous as soloists and composers. The American jazz composer/pianist Dave Brubeck also visited the House of Hambourg when he was in town for informal jam sessions. Clem frequently performed with these musicians and in a solo capacity. He became a master of the art of improvisation, incorporating be-bop and other jazz rhythms into the works of such composers at Bach and Beethoven. Later in the career of his jazz mecca, he founded the House of Hambourg Off-Broadway style theatre, giving The Connection its premiere outside the U.S.A., Ben Hecht’s The Front Page, and other important plays. Clem and Ruth Hambourg were portrayed in, and the House of Hambourg was the setting for, Boom, Baby, Boom, by Banuta Rubess and (music by Nick Graham) premiered in 1988 in Harbourfront.

By 1965 the pioneer work of the House of Hambourg was over and Clem was featured in some of Toronto’s premiere hotels and lounges as solo variety pianist including Julie’s on Jarvis and Gloucester Streets, where many patrons came primarily for the music. He also became well known on Trans-Canada Television. In 1971 he was struck by cancer, but through major surgery he made an amazing recovery and continued to perform. Between 1970 and 1972 he appeared as concert pianist for Burl Ives in The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever, and was a principal in Here Come the Seventies, illustrating how he surmounted age with achievement. This documentary was shown on both American and Canadian television networks.

Clement Hambourg and Norm Amadio: Rhapsody in Blue - George Gershwin,
arr. for two pianos by Norm Amadio | Listen | Read review  (c. 1970)

In the Clem Hambourg Mood

Kennedy's Press Aide a Piano-Playing Whiz With Old Memories of Canada

The House of Hambourg

Hambourg Duo Delightful and Amusing


Boris Hambourg | Jan Hambourg | Mark Hambourg | Clement Hambourg | Klement Hambourg | Tanya Hambourg | Corinne Hambourg Visscher
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