Muzio Clementi


The son of a sliversmith, Muzio Clementi studied in his native Rome from an early age before moving to England when he was 13.  Traveller Peter Beckford had been so impressed with Clementi's ability that he "...bought him of his father for seven years".  After living with Beckford in Dorset for the allotted time, he moved to London in 1774 and performed as a harpsichordist and harpist. 

After working as musical director at the King's Theatre, during which time he had his first sonatas published, Clementi began a tour of Europe in 1780.  Following a triumphant performance in Paris, his reputation preceded him to Vienna, where Joseph II insisted he take part in a pianistic duel with Mozart .  Mozart impressed Clementi significantly; the reverse was not the case.

Clementi's next period of stability was back in London, where from 1785 to 1802 he taught and had major works performed.  He conducted many of his symphonies and performed his keyboard concertos and sonatas until a removal from the public eye in 1796.  Perhaps this was related to the arrival in London of Franz Joseph Haydn, whose presence tended to eclipse the efforts of others working in the city.  From 1802 to 1810 he toured Europe, hawking his business interests before returning to London.

Clementi had many famous pupils, including John Field, inventor of the nocturne.  A precarious venture into publishing saw him secure the rights to Beethoven's music, and his piano manufacturing company weathered fire and misfortune to huge success.  In later years he returned to performing and conducting and was a director of the Philharmonic Society.

Many of Clementi's keyboard works were published in the Gradus ad Parnassum collections, drawing together pieces from throughout his life.  He was integral to the development of the keyboard sonata and spanned great changes in the style of playing and the construction of the instruments themselves.

MIDI FILE - from "Gradus ad Parnassum": Studio no. 2 (1'21'')

MIDI FILE - from "Gradus ad Parnassum": Studio no. 9 (1'27'')

MIDI FILE - from "Gradus ad Parnassum": Studio n.21 (1'20'')

Show more