Clementi, Muzio

Roma 1752 - Worcestershire 1832

 

 

Biography

Clementi was a pianist, composer, editor and piano constructor. His first maestro was his father and then Sir Peter Beckford, a wealthy English voyager.
He was influenced by Scarlatti's harpsichord school, by Haydn's classical school and by the stile galante of J.C. Bach. He soon became known as one of the great virtuoso pianists. He went on tour numerous times, starting from London - where he had lived for many years - and then all throughout Europe. He taught keyboard, and his method is used still today. Very esteemed as a teacher, his students were J. Field and J.B. Cramer, but also J. Meyerbeer, F. Kalkbrenner, I. Moscheles, and C. Czerny attended courses which he held in Paris, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Prague, Rome and Milan.
Clementi, who not only produced his own brand of pianos, was also a publisher. It was thanks to this extra activity of his that many pieces of music by contemporary and non-contemporary authors were brought to light. Much more than just a simple musician, Clementi was sought after by the aristocrats of high society.

 

The name Clementi is still today linked to piano-teaching pieces. Despite the restless atmosphere of the pre-romanticism period in which he lived, Clementi's compositions are marked by detachment from emotion in a sort of illuministic rationalism. Known by his contemporaries as the father of the pianoforte, he greatly influenced his contemporaries with his instrumental techniques (from Mozart to Beethoven), and his composing techniques. He is, in fact, still famous for his piano competition held in Vienna in 1782.

 

Piano music
It is thanks to him that today we appreciate the technical and expressive possibilities of the piano: intended as orchestral transposition; and the sonorous combinations of the musical notes at the extremities of the piaNo. He also, for first, used the piano pedals in a new and creative way.
He wrote 113 Sonatas, including the progressive Sonatinas for pianoforte, Op. 36 e 37, the great Sonatas for solo piano; 45 sonatas accompanied by 1 or 2 instruments; 7 Sonatas for pianoforte (four hands); 1 Sonata for two pianos. He also wrote a series of Capriccios, Toccatas, Fugues, Waltzes [24], Monferrinas [12], and Variations for a total of 113 pieces; a collection of 100 Exercises (Gradus ad Parnassum, 1817-26), which are still today considered unequalled for piano teaching; various anthologies, including Selection of Practical Harmony for organ or harmonium; 24 Preludes and Exercises for pianoforte (1790).

 

Other works
He also wrote 6 symphonies and music for an Oratorio; the latter, however, is lost.

 

 


The Kunst der Fuge Biographies of Composers: Clementi by Nausica Th. Classical.
Contribution for the translation: B.K. Drabsch. Special thank to F. Vettori for the collaboration.
Credits:
* Nuova Enciclopedia della Musica, Garzanti (Garzanti, 1983)
Enciclopedia [generale] di Repubblica (Autori vari, 2003)
Federico Motta, Enciclopedia (Motta editore)
Kunst der Fuge / On Classical, © 2003. All rights reserved.

 

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