Clementi, Muzio (1752-1832)

Muzio Clementi

born: 23 January 1752
died: 10 March 1832
country: United Kingdom

Muzio Clementi (1752–1832) was born into a family of modest means in Rome. When he was fourteen years of age, a visiting Englishman returning from his ‘grand tour’, Sir Peter Beckford, cousin of the novelist William Beckford, took young Clementi with him back to his country estate in Dorset. (Beckford later explained that he had ‘bought him from his father for seven years’.) In this rather isolated place, just north of Blandford Forum, Clementi became a kind of one-person musical establishment. He performed for Beckford’s guests, began to compose, and spent long hours refining the keyboard technique that was one day to be legendary. When the seven years were up he moved to London, which was to be his home base essentially for the rest of his life. He presently became an accompanist at the King’s Theatre, began to publish his earliest keyboard music, and prepared for European tours that occupied most of the years 1780–85. In Paris he apparently played for Queen Marie Antoinette, and in Vienna he and Mozart engaged in a famous ‘piano contest’ staged by the Emperor Joseph II for the entertainment of his guests. Thereafter Clementi spent some months teaching in Lyon, where his attempted elopement with a piano student ended unhappily: the highly placed father put a stop to such an undesirable marriage and Clementi became something of an object lesson in the lowly status of musicians in respectable late eighteenth-century European society.

From 1785 to 1802 Clementi remained in London, participating in the most robust musical life of any city in the world. In 1791 the London Morning Chronicle exclaimed:

So many public Concerts, private Concerts, Operas, Balls, and Music Meetings, as are cut out for the Winter, and such a shoal of eminent performers as are imported from the Continent, will render a motto from Shakespeare’s Tempest highly appropriate to this country:
The Isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears.

In the midst of this great crescendo of musical activity Clementi reached the apogee of his career, first as a performer, then as a composer. The only major obstacle to his burgeoning fame was one of that ‘shoal of eminent performers from the Continent’, Joseph Haydn, present in the city in 1791–2 and 1794–5; Londoners consistently preferred him to any local talent. And the comparison with Clementi was not hard to make, as the principal fare offered by both composers at London concerts consisted mainly of symphonies. (Only two of Clementi’s symphonies from this period, published in 1787 as Op 18, have survived.) Until 1790 Clementi also appeared frequently on the London stage as a piano soloist, performing his own sonatas and concertos. Here is a fairly typical review from the Morning Chronicle of 15 February 1790:

But the performance beyond all others to astonish, was Clementi’s concerto on the Piano Forte: what brilliancy of finger, and wonderful execution! The powers of the instrument were never called forth with superior skill, perhaps not equal.

from notes by Leon Plantinga © 2009

Albums

Clementi: Capriccios & Variations
CDA678502CDs for the price of 1
Clementi: Piano Sonatas
CDA66808Archive Service
Clementi: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1
CDA676322CDs for the price of 1
Clementi: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2
CDA677172CDs for the price of 1
Clementi: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3
CDA677292CDs for the price of 1
Clementi: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4
CDA677382CDs for the price of 1
Clementi: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 5
CDA678142CDs for the price of 1
Clementi: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 6
CDA678192CDs for the price of 1

Complete works available for download

Capriccio in A major, Op 34 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Capriccio in B flat major, Op 17Howard Shelley (piano)
Capriccio in C major, Op 47 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Capriccio in E minor, Op 47 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Capriccio in F major, Op 34 No 4Howard Shelley (piano)
Fantaisie and Variations on Au clair de la lune, Op 48Howard Shelley (piano)
La chasse, Op 16Howard Shelley (piano)
Musical Characteristics, Op 19Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in A flat major, WO13Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 1 No 5Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 10 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 2 No 4Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 25 No 4Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 33 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 50 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 1 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 10 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 12 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 13 No 4Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 2 No 6Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 24 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 24 No 2 Op 41 No 2 Op 47 No 2Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 25 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 46Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 8 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 9 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in B minor, Op 40 No 2Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Piano Sonata in B minor, Op 40 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 2 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 20Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 25 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 33 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 34 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 37 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 7 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 9 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 10 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 25 No 6Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 37 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 40 No 3Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 40 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in D minor, Op 50 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 1 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 11 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 12 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 12 No 4Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 23 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 23 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 41Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 7 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 8 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 9 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in E major, Op 1 No 6Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 1 No 4Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 12 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 13 No 5Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 23 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 24 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 26Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 33 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F major, WO3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F minor, Op 13 No 6Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in F sharp minor, Op 25 No 5Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Piano Sonata in F sharp minor, Op 25 No 5Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 1 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 25 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 37 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 40 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G major, WO14Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G minor 'Didone abbandonata', Op 50 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op 34 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op 7 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op 8 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Rondo in B flat major, WO8Howard Shelley (piano)
Sonatina in C major, Op 36 No 1Howard Shelley (piano)
Sonatina in C major, Op 36 No 3Howard Shelley (piano)
Sonatina in D major, Op 36 No 6Howard Shelley (piano)
Sonatina in F major, Op 36 No 4Howard Shelley (piano)
Sonatina in G major, Op 36 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Sonatina in G major, Op 36 No 5Howard Shelley (piano)
The Black Joke with 21 Variations, WO2Howard Shelley (piano)
Toccata in B flat major, Op 11 No 2Howard Shelley (piano)
Twelve Monferrinas, Op 49Howard Shelley (piano)
Variations on a Minuet by Mr Collick, WO5Howard Shelley (piano)
Variations on Batti batti from Mozart's Don Giovanni, WO10Howard Shelley (piano)

Alphabetical listing of all musical works

Capriccio in A major, Op 34 No 3 (Clementi)
Capriccio in B flat major, Op 17 (Clementi)
Capriccio in C major, Op 47 No 2 (Clementi)
Capriccio in E minor, Op 47 No 1 (Clementi)
Capriccio in F major, Op 34 No 4 (Clementi)
Fantaisie and Variations on Au clair de la lune, Op 48 (Clementi)
La chasse, Op 16 (Clementi)
Musical Characteristics, Op 19 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in A flat major, WO13 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 1 No 5 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 10 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 2 No 4 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 25 No 4 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 33 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in A major, Op 50 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 1 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 10 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 12 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 13 No 4 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 2 No 6 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 24 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 24 No 2 Op 41 No 2 Op 47 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 25 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 46 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 8 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op 9 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in B minor, Op 40 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 2 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 20 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 25 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 33 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 34 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 37 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 7 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in C major, Op 9 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 10 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 25 No 6 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 37 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in D major, Op 40 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in D minor, Op 50 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 1 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 11 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 12 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 12 No 4 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 23 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 23 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 41 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 7 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 8 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Op 9 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in E major, Op 1 No 6 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 1 No 4 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 12 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 13 No 5 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 23 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 24 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 26 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, Op 33 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F major, WO3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F minor, Op 13 No 6 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in F sharp minor, Op 25 No 5 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 1 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 25 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 37 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 40 No 1 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G major, WO14 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G minor 'Didone abbandonata', Op 50 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op 34 No 2 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op 7 No 3 (Clementi)
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op 8 No 1 (Clementi)
Rondo in B flat major, WO8 (Clementi)
Sonatina in C major, Op 36 No 1 (Clementi)
Sonatina in C major, Op 36 No 3 (Clementi)
Sonatina in D major, Op 36 No 6 (Clementi)
Sonatina in F major, Op 36 No 4 (Clementi)
Sonatina in G major, Op 36 No 2 (Clementi)
Sonatina in G major, Op 36 No 5 (Clementi)
The Black Joke with 21 Variations, WO2 (Clementi)
Toccata in B flat major, Op 11 No 2 (Clementi)
Twelve Monferrinas, Op 49 (Clementi)
Variations on a Minuet by Mr Collick, WO5 (Clementi)
Variations on Batti batti from Mozart's Don Giovanni, WO10 (Clementi)