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Clementi, Muzio [Clementi, Mutius Philippus Vincentius Franciscus Xaverius]locked

  • Alan Tyson
  •  and Leon Plantinga

(b Rome, Jan 23, 1752; d Evesham, Worcs., March 10, 1832). English composer, keyboard player and teacher, music publisher and piano manufacturer of Italian birth.

1. Life.

  • Leon Plantinga

The oldest of seven children of Nicolo Clementi (1720–89), a silversmith, and Magdalena, née Kaiser, Clementi began studies in music in Rome at a very early age; his teachers were Antonio Boroni (1738–92), an organist named Cordicelli, Giuseppi Santarelli (1710–90) and possibly Gaetano Carpani. In January 1766, at the age of 13, he secured the post of organist at his home church, S Lorenzo in Damaso. In that year, however, his playing attracted the attention of an English traveller, Peter Beckford (1740–1811), cousin of the novelist William Beckford (1760–1844) and nephew of William Beckford (1709–70), twice Lord Mayor of London. According to Peter Beckford’s own forthright explanation, he ‘bought Clementi of his father for seven years’, and in late 1766 or early 1767 brought him to his country estate of Steepleton Iwerne, just north of Blandford Forum in Dorset; here the young musician spent the next seven years in solitary study and practice at the harpsichord. His known compositions from the Rome and Dorset years, written before the age of 22, are few: an oratorio and possibly a mass (neither survives) and six keyboard sonatas.

It was apparently in 1774 that Clementi, freed from his obligations to Beckford, moved to London. His first known public appearances were as solo harpsichordist at benefit concerts for a singer (Bonpace) and a harpist (Jones) in spring 1775. In the ensuing four years his participation in London concert life was minimal. During part of this time he was ‘conductor’ (from the keyboard) at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket. His name was seen in concert programmes with increasing frequency in 1779–80, no doubt partly owing to the popularity of his sonatas op.2, first published by Welcker in spring 1779. That Clementi was playing these pieces in public, particularly the ‘octave lesson’ op.2 no.2, is suggested by an entry in the satirical musical lexicon ABC Dario Musico (Bath, 1780):

CLEMENTI. An Italian. Has composed some setts of lessons, which abound in passages so peculiar and difficult, that it is evident they must have been practised for years preceding their publication.

We particularly allude to the succession of octaves with which he has crammed his lessons. Mr. C. executes these exceedingly well, and is a most brilliant performer.

In addition to the six keyboard sonatas (three with accompanying instruments) of op.2, nine more accompanied sonatas and three keyboard duets (opp.3 and 4) were published in 1779–80, as well as a set of variations on an Irish tune, The Black Joke, in 1777.

Encouraged by his London successes, Clementi embarked on a continental tour in summer 1780. A biographical sketch in the Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review of 1820, very likely supplied by the composer himself, describes his reception in Paris:

In that city he was received with enthusiasm, and had the honour to play before the Queen, who bestowed upon him the most unqualified applause. The warmth of French praise, contrasted with the gentle and cool approbation given by the English, quite astonished the young musician, who used jocosely to remark, that he could scarcely believe himself to be the same man.

We have little evidence independent of this report bearing on Clementi’s performance for Marie Antoinette in 1780. But there is ample documentation of his appearance before her brother, Joseph II, in Vienna on 24 December of the following year. This was the occasion of the famous piano contest with Mozart staged by the emperor for the amusement of his guests, the Grand Duke (later Tsar Paul I) and Duchess of Russia. Both Mozart and Clementi left accounts of the event (though Clementi’s survives only through his pupil Ludwig Berger), and they are in substantial agreement: the two musicians were called upon to improvise and to perform selections from their own compositions; then at the Grand Duchess’s request they played at sight sonatas of Paisiello, ‘wretchedly written out’, Mozart said, ‘in his own hand’. It is not known what of his own works Mozart played, but Clementi later identified two of his compositions heard that evening, the Toccata op.11 and the Sonata op.24 no.2 (whose opening resembles Mozart’s overture to Die Zauberflöte, written ten years later). On 12 January 1782 Mozart wrote to his father: ‘Clementi plays well, as far as execution with the right hand goes. His greatest strength lies in his passages in 3rds. Apart from that, he has not a kreuzer’s worth of taste or feeling – in short he is a mere mechanicus’. Later his opinions seemingly had hardened; on 7 June 1783 he declared: ‘Clementi is a charlatan, like all Italians’. Sentiments such as these, publicized in Clementi’s last years, surely contributed to the precipitous decline of his reputation, and have become a permanent part of the lore surrounding him. Clementi’s impressions of Mozart’s performance were rather different; according to Berger (Caecilia, x, 1829, p.238) he recalled: ‘Until then I had never heard anyone play with such spirit and grace’.

After leaving Vienna in May 1782 Clementi travelled by way of Switzerland to Lyons, where he acquired several pupils, including Victoire Imbert-Colomés, daughter of a wealthy merchant there. Back in London in autumn 1783, he accepted the young J.B. Cramer as his pupil, and the following spring plunged into a full schedule of concerts as the regular keyboard soloist for the newly reorganized Hanover Square Concerts. At the height of the season, however, he abruptly departed once more for France. In Lyons he embarked on an elopement with the 18-year-old Mlle Imbert-Colomés, but her father put a stop to it and the disappointed pianist retired to Berne for solace and solitude. A letter to his father from Berne shows that Clementi was still there in August 1784. He may then have paid a visit to his family in Rome, but by May 1785 he was back in London, to remain there for many years. During this time of travel and turmoil (1780–85) Clementi produced some 26 new sonatas (opp.5–13) and various other compositions for keyboard; some of his most memorable music dates from this period.

From 1785 until 1802 Clementi remained in London and achieved great eminence first as a composer, performer and teacher, and later as a publisher and instrument manufacturer. Named ‘principal composer and performer’ at the Hanover Square Grand Professional Concert (as they were now called) in 1786, he appeared as piano soloist in these programmes as well as in the rival series of La Mara-Salomon until 1790. During these years he also frequently performed in the annual round of benefit concerts – the beneficiary being the principal performer – and in the concertos presented between acts of oratorios at Covent Garden. Like nearly all solo keyboard players he invariably performed his own works, for the most part sonatas and keyboard concertos. In 1786–96 he also appeared regularly as conductor (from the keyboard) of his symphonies; only two of these earlier symphonies, published in 1787 as op.18, have survived. Clementi’s last clearly documented solo performance in a public concert took place in May 1790, and after 1796 he also ceased for almost 20 years to conduct his symphonies in public. The concert seasons Haydn spent in England (1791–2 and 1794–5) unequivocally established the Londoners’ preference for his music, and Clementi was one of several composers whose careers were jeopardized in a losing competition with the world-famous visitor.

Clementi was in great demand during this period as a piano teacher; according to Mrs Papendiek, an attendant at the court of George III, he once refused an application for tuition from the royal family itself. His pupils included members of many well-placed families in London who were willing to meet his reported fee of one guinea per lesson. He also gained fame as a teacher of ‘professional’ students. Among them were J. B. Cramer, the organist Arthur Thomas Corfe, the violinist and pianist Benjamin Blake, Theresa Jansen, Benoit-Auguste Bertini and John Field. The small fortune he amassed during the 1790s he invested increasingly in music publishing and instrument making. Having suffered losses in the bankruptcy of Longman & Broderip in 1798, he took advantage of the situation to establish a new firm, Longman, Clementi & Co. With changes of name to accommodate the occasional coming and going of various partners, this company continued to operate at its Cheapside address (and, from 1806, at additional premises in Tottenham Court Road) until Clementi’s retirement in 1830. (For further information on Clementi’s publishing and piano-making activities see Clementi). Though his increasingly vigorous commercial pursuits left much less time for composition after about 1796, he produced a considerable volume of music during this long stay in London; new publications include about 56 sonatas and sonatinas for keyboard (many with accompaniments), a number of variations, capriccios and other shorter keyboard works, two symphonies and the influential Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte (1801). It is clear that a good many compositions from this period, including most of the symphonies brought to performance in London concerts, have been lost.

In 1802, at the age of 50, Clementi embarked on his third European tour, and remained abroad until 1810. This time he went as a representative of his firm, intent on cultivating markets for Clementi pianos and negotiating with composers and publishers for rights to new music. Incidentally, it seems, he also arranged for the publication of some of his own works on the Continent. Accompanying him during the first stage of his travels was his pupil John Field, who, according to generations of biographers of both composers, suffered harsh treatment at Clementi’s hands; this purportedly included a kind of forced labour (demonstrating Clementi pianos to customers) and denial of proper clothing. These allegations derive from two much later sources: the necrology for Field in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of 1837 and the autobiography of Spohr constructed by the composer around quotations from his diaries in the 1850s. Spohr’s unfavourable comments occur not in the diaries dating from his contact with Clementi and Field but in the additions a half-century later; and the Field necrology was carelessly compiled from a variety of secondary sources. The graphic descriptions of Clementi’s exploitation and maltreatment of Field are largely embroideries on sources that in themselves are suspect.

Owing to the vicissitudes of the Napoleonic wars, interrupted commerce and tragic personal affairs, Clementi’s movements during these years were largely improvisatory. He travelled extensively in the German states, made two separate trips to Russia (1802–3 and 1806), two to Italy (1804–5 and 1807–8), and visited Vienna four times (1802, 1804, 1806–7, 1808–10). In September 1804 he married Caroline Lehmann of Berlin, then 19 years old, who died in childbirth the following year. During his travels Clementi acquired various new pupils, some of whom accompanied him: Carl Zeuner, Alexander Klengel, Ludwig Berger and Frédéric Kalkbrenner (later briefly the teacher of Chopin). A cardinal achievement of these years was the successful negotiation for rights to Beethoven’s music. In April 1807 Clementi signed a contract with Beethoven for five major compositions: the Rasumovsky Quartets op.59, CoriolanOverture, the Fourth Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Violin Concerto. Difficulties attended the dispatch of the music to London, and the payments made to Beethoven were long delayed; hence only the Violin Concerto was issued as a direct result of the contract. But the agreement became the basis for a continuing arrangement whereby Clementi & Co. issued in 1810–11 first editions of ten new works of Beethoven.

Back in London in 1810, Clementi resumed personal direction of his firm, in which he held a controlling interest. Despite a disastrous fire of 1807, the company flourished; a financial statement drawn up on 24 June 1811 showed a net value of about £112,000. Other sectors of Clementi’s life flourished similarly. On 6 July 1811 he married an Englishwoman, Emma Gisborne, who according to Ignaz Moscheles was ‘as moderate and placid as he is excitable and effervescent’. Clementi (now nearly 60) and his wife became the parents of two sons and two daughters. The respect he enjoyed in London in these years was shown in that he was named one of the six directors of the Philharmonic Society on its founding in 1813. That institution also provided an opportunity for the performance of his more recent, unpublished symphonies, and for his re-emergence as a public musician. Until 1824 he often appeared in Philharmonic concerts as a conductor from the keyboard, often in his own symphonies. On occasion he participated in other musical events, for example five concerts of a new series, the Concerts of Ancient and Modern Music, in 1824, when his works were heard in conjunction with those of an Italian precisely 40 years his junior, Rossini.

After 1810 Clementi made four further visits to the Continent, two of them extended. The purpose of these visits, for the most part, was to present his orchestral music to European audiences. In 1816–17 he presided over performances of his symphonies at the Concert Spirituel in Paris, and in 1822 he conducted three more at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig; these latter can be identified among the symphonies for which autograph fragments survive in the Library of Congress. But the aging composer’s persistent efforts to make his mark as a symphonist were hardly a success. For after 1824 his works disappeared from the concert stage in England and elsewhere, forced out this time, in large part, by Beethoven’s symphonies. As in his earliest days as a composer, Clementi was still at his best in keyboard music. His large-scale sonatas op.50, though probably nearly complete by 1805, appeared in 1821, and the three volumes of his Gradus ad Parnassum – a monumental compendium of his work from all periods – were published in 1817, 1819 and 1826.

In 1830 Clementi retired from his firm, and at about this time he and his family moved to Lichfield, Staffordshire. Soon after they moved once more, some distance to the south, to Evesham in Worcestershire. There Clementi drew up his will on 2 January 1832; on 10 March, after what was described as a brief illness, he died at the age of 80. His funeral on 29 March filled Westminster Abbey, and he was buried with great ceremony in the cloisters.

2. Works.

  • Leon Plantinga

Ex.1 Sonata op.2 no.4, 1st movt

55 years elapsed between the appearance of Clementi’s sonatas op.1 and his last publication of any consequence – Gradus ad Parnassum, iii. The diversities in his musical style are no less marked than the great span of his career would suggest. The keyboard works describe a spectrum extending from the simplest galant writing to the rhetorical passion of Romantic piano music – from something like Alberti to something approaching Chopin. Certain early and middle-period sonatas, especially those in minor keys (for example op.7 no.3, op.13 no.6 and op.34 no.2), have the dynamic extremes, propulsive figurations and octave melodies associated with the young Beethoven of a decade or so later. Clementi also showed an enduring fondness for uncompromising counterpoint, for two-part running figurations (indebted to Domenico Scarlatti and other Italian composers) and for various kinds of virtuoso passage-work. Most of these disparate elements of style were to some extent present in his music as early as 1780. Even within individual publications the variety in his early music is astonishing. The Sonata op.2 no.2, the ‘octave lesson’, abounds with scales in octaves and murky-bass pedal points. In the A major sonata (no.4) from the same collection there is a profusely decorated melodic style including ornaments in 3rds with chromatic altered notes – a remarkable foretaste, in 1779, of a 19th-century cliché (ex.1).

Opp.5 and 6, published in Paris when Clementi was there (c1780–81), show the composer’s early preoccupation with Baroque counterpoint: between them these publications contain six tenacious (and somewhat laborious) fugues, seemingly modelled on the most chromatic idiom of J.S. Bach. It is probably no coincidence that the slow introductions to the first sonatas in each set show a remarkable escalation of linear writing and harmonic complexity. While indulging in such extreme quests for expressiveness, Clementi apparently also kept his ‘virtuoso’ style in good working order. The Toccata that he played in the contest with Mozart on Christmas Eve 1781 is a kind of double-3rds study. And parts of the sonatas opp.9 and 12 (1783 and 1784) still reflect an interest in brilliant passage-work for its own sake. Yet among the 12 sonatas (opp.7–10) Clementi composed during his first stay in Vienna (December 1781–May 1782) there are movements showing great advances in structural integrity and a successful assimilation of the widely divergent techniques of previous years. Two attractive examples are the nearly monothematic moto perpetuo finale of the G minor Sonata op.8 no.1 and the opening movement of op.10 no.1 in A. Most impressive as an entire composition, however, is surely the G minor Sonata op.7 no.3. Its first movement presents extremely diverse musical materials that nonetheless achieve a complex motivic unity on several levels. The rhetorical, harmonically pungent slow movement reflects the experiments of opp.5 and 6, and in the finale Clementi’s famous octaves are put to good use in a movement of Haydnesque craft and wit.

Ex.2 Sonata op.13 no.6, 3rd movt

All 12 of these ‘Viennese’ sonatas are in three movements (in his previous works the Italianate two-movement plan had predominated), and all are for solo keyboard; there is a fairly clear stylistic distinction in Clementi’s earlier music between the slighter, more ‘commercial’ accompanied sonata and the more professional solo setting. The gains seen in opp. 10–12 are consolidated in op.13 (probably composed during Clementi’s self-imposed exile from London in 1784); the F minor sonata of this set is one of his finest works. The tortuous, driving figuration of the two- and three-part texture in its first movement comprise a dramatic new adaptation of traditional Italian keyboard style. The second movement juxtaposes abrasive dissonances with expressive melodic writing, and in the finale there are remarkable prophecies of Beethoven’s keyboard writing: a melody very similar to the contredanse tune used in the finale of the Eroica (and elsewhere in Beethoven) is fragmented by octave displacements and set against an active, oscillating, middle-register accompaniment (ex.2).

The music of Clementi’s middle London years (1785–1802) does not seem to fulfil the promise of the sonatas from the early 1780s. His principal pursuit as a musician for nearly a dozen years after 1785 was the composition and performance of symphonies. The paltry two symphonies that survive from this period (op.18) sound curiously old-fashioned, and certainly not up to the standard of, say, Haydn’s contemporaneous Paris symphonies. A single Piano Concerto in C, fortuitously preserved in a Viennese manuscript, is an estimable work, suggesting that the disappearance of the concertos is a greater loss than that of the symphonies. This concerto also survives in a somewhat rough transcription as a solo sonata (op.33 no.3, published in 1794). A rather peculiar physiognomy in several other middle-period sonatas suggests that at least parts of other lost concertos survive in this form: the first movements of op.23 no.3 (E♭) and op.25 no.1 (C), the entire Sonata in F op.24 and the Sonata op.34 no.1 – there is testimony (attributed to Berger) that this last in fact originated as a concerto.

Ex.3 Sonata op.33 no.1, 1st movt

There is a good bit more ‘commercial’ music in the later 1780s and 1790s: accompanied keyboard sonatas (only a few of Clementi’s compositions in this genre, such as op.22, are of much substance), keyboard duets, two canzonettas for voice and keyboard, and two sets of waltzes for piano, tambourine and triangle (opp.38 and 39). The most significant music of this period is again to be found among the solo sonatas. Two sonatas of op.25 (1790), the second and sixth, in G and D, are stylistically consistent, satisfying pieces in an unmixed ‘classic’ idiom reminiscent of the Haydn sonatas published by Artaria ten years earlier (hXVI:35–9, 20). The first movement of the A major sonata op.33 (1794) is an even more sophisticated example, whose opening theme shows Clementi’s growing fondness for subtle metrical ambiguity (ex.3). A similar style can be seen in reduced and distilled form in the Sonatinas op.36, originally published as a supplement to the Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte; surely it is a tribute to the quality of these little pieces that after two centuries they still perform admirably the didactic function for which Clementi intended them.

A few compositions from 1785–1802 measure up to the expressive power of op.13 no.6. One is the F♯ minor sonata of op.25, whose running figurations and construction of phrases from tiny modules are reminiscent of Scarlatti. And bursts of double 3rds in the finale recall other proclivities of Clementi’s earlier style. Yet these diverse older elements are successfully combined in a composition of stylistic consistency and great harmonic potency. The G minor sonata of op.34 is an even more impressive monument to Clementi’s powers of stylistic synthesis. Its Largo opening is an abrasively dissonant chromatic fugato whose subject is adopted for the first material of the following Allegro; the return of this Largo at the beginning of the recapitulation (as in Beethoven’s op.13 and op.31 no.2) invests it with an importance transcending the ordinary slow introduction, and throughout the composition informal contrapuntal writing first heard in the fugato mingles with idiomatic and thoroughly modern keyboard figurations. In each of the outer movements (both are of the sonata-allegro type) Clementi introduced two secondary tonalities, and overcame the special problems thus posed by means of intricate tonal and thematic relationships.

On the eve of his departure for Europe in 1802 Clementi published a set of three large-scale sonatas (op.40) that show clear new stylistic directions. They are technically demanding, experimental in form and seem quite at home in the new century. All three of these sonatas are notably long; all show multiple themes and extended stretches of passage-work only tenuously related to those themes, creating an effect of prolixity new to Clementi’s music. Some of his old proclivities, to be sure, are still in evidence. In the G major piece (Clementi’s only sonata with four genuinely independent movements), instead of a scherzo there is a group of severe two-part canons. Between them the sonatas in B minor and D offer three harmonically supercharged slow introductions of a type that recurs in his music from op.5 onwards, and the lavish melodic ornament in the Adagio of the G major sonata is a more extreme case of similar writing in op.2 no.4 (1779) and op.25 no.4 (1790). These sonatas, the first examples of Clementi’s ‘late’ style, are representative of the most modern keyboard idiom of the period; they are much closer in almost every respect to the contemporary sonatas of Dussek, say, than to those of Beethoven.

During Clementi’s Wanderjahre of 1802–10 he published virtually no new music. There is evidence, however, that during that period he worked on several symphonies, and in two letters of 1804 and 1805 he spoke of ‘three new sonatas’ that were nearly complete; the compositions in question are most likely the three sonatas op.50, not published until 1821. Op.50 is stylistically compatible with the sonatas of op.40, and may have been intended originally as a kind of sequel to them: op.40 was published with the notation ‘book 1’, and no book 2 was ever forthcoming. Best known and most rewarding of op.50 is the third sonata, in G minor, with the Metastasian subtitle Didone abbandonata. The opening themes of both Allegro movements are strongly reminiscent of Clementi’s first sonata in this key, op.7 no.3. In the first movement fragmentation poses a constant threat as the music again and again plunges, as if from an excess of energy, into foreign tonalities. The finale steers a much simpler course, showing a homogeneity of rhythmic motion and a stabilizing tendency to repeat cadence patterns – a time-honoured trait of Italian keyboard music that had not surfaced this clearly in Clementi’s works since the F♯ minor sonata of op.25. The development section survives a tenacious canonic treatment of the first theme, and Clementi ended his last sonata in a most convincing fashion amid echoes of stylistic traits characteristic of his music since the 1780s.

As in the later 1780s, Clementi’s chief musical preoccupation from about 1812 to 1824 was the composition of symphonies. None of these later symphonies was published during the composer’s lifetime, and many are no doubt lost. But divided between the Library of Congress and the British Library are autographs of four symphonies, none of them complete, and several other independent movements and fragments of movements from this period (they are assigned the numbers wo32–6 in Tyson, 1967). Two of these works, wo32 in C and a version of wo33 in D, were ‘reconstructed’ and published by Alfredo Casella in the 1930s. More reliable versions of all four, together with a separate ‘Minuetto pastorale’ were later published by Pietro Spada (1975–8). The four surviving symphonies are all large-scale compositions written for a full orchestra including clarinets and three trombones. Clementi plainly saw the symphony as a suitable arena for the practice of his most ‘learned’ style; most of the fast movements have fugal or canonic sections, and the Andante of the ‘Great National Symphony’ (performed in 1824) even includes an imitative treatment of the first two phrases of God Save the King in retrograde.

Reviews of Clementi’s symphonies in the London press were uniformly laudatory (opinion in Germany and France varied). But it gradually became all too clear that his music for orchestra would not outlive the composer, and in the 1820s Clementi began to direct his energies increasingly to the fulfilment of another longstanding ambition, the completion of the three-volume Gradus ad Parnassum. This collection of 100 pieces for keyboard, the end result of a process of composing, revising and assembling that extended over about 45 years, represents a kind of summary of the composer’s career. It shows the full diversity of Clementi’s keyboard music. In addition to straight pianistic exercises there are preludes and fugues (including revisions of the fugues from opp.5 and 6), canons, various sonata-like movements, ‘character-pieces’ of several kinds, and compositions with programmatic titles such as ‘Scena patetica’ (no.39), and ‘Bizzarria’ (no.95). More than half the individual pieces are explicitly arranged into tonally unified suites of three to six movements. Other successions of numbers suggest further grouping: there are, for example, frequent Scarlatti-like pairs with the same tonic. If the music in these volumes seems bent on exhausting all the possible varieties of keyboard figurations and textures, it also shows an underlying consistency. Much more than the vast majority of keyboard music produced in Clementi’s time, these pieces tend towards polyphonic, linear writing. A three-to four-part setting in which melodic interest shifts from one part to another is almost a norm throughout the collection. Clementi’s lifelong fascination with ‘learned’ procedures, quite apart from all his canons and fugues, continues to inform his style.

In his later years Clementi was given titles such as ‘father of the pianoforte’, ‘father of the pianoforte sonata’ and the like. If he was deserving of such names, it is not – as has often been stated – because he was the first or even one of the first to write music specifically for the piano. The claims for Clementi’s priority as a piano composer have always rested on his op.2 sonatas. But it is now established that those sonatas were first published in 1779, not 1773 as previously thought. Moreover, the newspaper announcements clearly report that in all Clementi’s public solo performances before summer 1780, apparently including performances of his op.2 sonatas, he played the harpsichord. Thus while J.C. Bach (and a few others) were heard on the piano increasingly often in London concerts from 1768 to the late 1770s, Clementi continued to play the older instrument. Hence his early ‘virtuoso’ style, with its bravura runs in 3rds and octaves, should properly be regarded as a harpsichord style. After 1780, however, his multiple careers as composer, performer, teacher, publisher and manufacturer all had to do with the piano, and his name and reputation became firmly attached to this instrument.

Clementi’s influence on following generations of pianists and piano composers is hard to overestimate. Beethoven’s earlier keyboard writing seems unmistakably indebted to his music of the 1780s and 1790s. Clementi was the principal teacher of several leading pianists of the 1820s and 1830s, and he had more informal contacts with many others during their formative years, for example Herz, Meyerbeer, Dussek and perhaps Hummel. His didactic works, especially the Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte, the op.36 sonatinas and the Gradus ad Parnassum, became staples in the education of pianists at all levels. Thus in several ways he impressed his stamp on piano playing and writing from about 1790 until far into the 19th century. And increasing numbers of modern editions and recordings of his works have made 20th-century musicians and audiences aware once more of his virtues as a composer.


  • Alan Tyson

for detailed information on sources, see Tyson (1967); opus numbers are those of the most authentic editions, as determined by Tyson; works without opus numbers are here identified by their numbers in Tyson's catalogue [wo]; for a collation of editions of Clementi’s keyboard sonatas, see Grove5; the autographs of many works are later than their first publication; all works were published in London unless otherwise stated


Oeuvres complettes de Muzio Clementi (Leipzig, 1803–19/R) [O]

The London Pianoforte School, i–v, ed. N. Temperley (1984–7) [LPS]

Muzio Clementi: Opere sinfoniche complete, ed. P. Spada (Milan, 1975–8) [S]

Keyboard and chamber



6 Sonatas, E♭, G, B♭, F, A, E, hpd/pf, nos. 1–3 autograph F-Pn, all 6 (?1771/R1987 in LPS, i) [no.2 pubd with different 1st movt, no.3 with rev.]


The Black Joke with 21 Variations, G, pf/hpd (1777/R1987 in LPS, i) [partly re-used and rev. in op.1 bis no.3; substantially rev. as The Sprig of Shillelah (1823)]


5 Sonatas, F, B♭, G, A, a [actually a fugue], pf/hpd, Duo, B♭, 2 pf/hpd, autograph of Duo US-Wc, all (Paris, c1780–81/R1987 in LPS, i [5 Sonatas]); no.1 rev. 1807, autograph Wc [nos.2. 3, 4 use rev. material from op.1 and wo2] [Tyson: Oeuvre 1]


6 Sonatas, E♭, C, G, A, F, B♭, pf/hpd, nos.1, 3, 5 with fl/vn (1779/R1987 in LPS, i [nos.2, 4, 6], rev. 2/?c1790–95); nos.2, 4 rev. as opp.30 and 31; nos.2, 4, 6 rev. (Vienna, 1807); no.2 rev. (?c1818–19/R1985 in LPS, iv)


3 Duets, C, E♭, G, pf/hpd 4 hands, 3 Sonatas, F, B♭, C, pf/hpd, fl/vn (1779)


6 Sonatas, D, E♭, C, G, B♭, F, pf/hpd, vn/fl (1780)


3 Sonatas, B♭, F, E♭, pf/hpd, vn, 3 Fugues, B♭, F, b, hpd (Paris, c1780–81/R1987 in LPS, i [3 Fugues]); 3 Sonatas rev. 1807, Wc*; 3 Fugues rev. in op.44


Duo, C, pf/hpd 4 hands, 2 Sonatas, E♭, E, pf/hpd, vn, 3 Fugues, c, C, e, hpd (Paris, c1780–81/R1987 in LPS, i [3 Fugues]); minuet of Sonata no.2 rev. ?1807, Wc*; 3 Fugues rev. in op.44


3 Sonatas, E♭, C, g, hpd/pf (Vienna, 1782/R1987 in LPS, i)


3 Sonatas, g, E♭, B♭, pf/hpd (Lyons and Paris, 1782/R1987 in LPS, i)


3 Sonatas, B♭, C, E♭, hpd/pf (Vienna, 1783/R1987 in LPS, i)


3 Sonatas, A, D, B♭, hpd/pf (Vienna, 1783/R1987 in LPS, i); rev. after 1800, GB-Lbl*


Sonata, E♭, pf, Toccata, B♭, hpd/pf, autograph of Sonata D-B, both (1784/R1984 in LPS, ii, 2/1792); unauthorized 1st printing of Toccata (Paris, 1784); both rev. in O, vi


4 Sonatas, B♭, E♭, F, E♭, pf, Duet, B♭, 2 pf (1784/R1984 in LPS, ii [4 Sonatas], rev. 2/c1801–2)


6 Sonatas, G, C, E♭, B♭, F, f, pf, nos.1–3 with vn/fl (1785/R1984 in LPS, ii [nos.4–6]); nos.4–6 rev. ?1807, US-Wc*


3 Duets, C, F, E♭, pf 4 hands (1786); nos.1, 2 rev. after 1815, GB-Lbl*; no.3 rev. (c1815–16)


3 Sonatas, E♭, C, B♭, pf, vn (1786)


La chasse, D, hpd/pf (1786/R1984 in LPS, ii)


Capriccio, B♭, hpd/pf (1787/R1984 in LPS, ii, rev. 2/?c1801–2); rev. 1807, US-Wc**


Musical Characteristics, or A Collection of Preludes and Cadences … Composed in the Style of Haydn, Kozeluch, Mozart, Sterkel, Vanhal and the Author, hpd/pf (1787/R1984 in LPS, ii); rev. 1807, Wc*


Sonata, C, pf/hpd (1787/R1984 in LPS, iii), rev. as Sonata VI in O, vi


3 Sonatas, D, G, C, pf/hpd, fl, vc (1788); no.1 arr. pf 4 hands (?before 1802)


3 Sonatas, D, G, C [La chasse], pf/hpd, fl, vc (1788); no.3 arr. pf 4 hands (1789)


3 Sonatas, E♭, F, E♭, pf/hpd (1790/R1984 in LPS, iii); variations of no.3 rev. in op.43


2 Sonatas, F, B♭, hpd/pf in Storace’s Collection of Original Harpsichord Music (1788–9/R1984 in LPS, iii); no.2 rev. as op.41 no.2 (Vienna, 1804) and as Sonata 1 in O, vi


Sonata, F, hpd/pf, GB-Lbl*, pubd in D. Corri: A Select Collection of Choice Music for the Harpsichord or Piano-Forte, ii (c1789–90/R1984 in LPS, iii)


6 Pf Sonatas, C, G, B♭, A, f♯, D, inc. autograph of no.4 Lbl, all 6 (1790/R1984 in LPS, iii)


Sonata, F, pf/hpd (1791/R1984 in LPS, iii)


3 Sonatas, F, D, G, pf/hpd, vn, vc (1791)


3 Sonatas, C, E♭, G, pf/hpd, vn, vc (1792)


3 Sonatas, C, pf, vn, vc, G, D, both pf, fl, vc (1793)


5 Variations on a Minuet by Mr. Collick, F, pf (1793/R1984 in LPS, iii)


Sonata, C, pf/hpd, vn (1794); inc. autograph with rev. slow movt US-Wc [rev. of op.2 no.2]


Sonata, A, pf/hpd, fl (1794) [rev. of op.2 no.4]


3 Sonatas, F, D, C, pf, fl, vc (1793)


Sonata, C, pf, fl, vc, in Longman & Broderip’s Collection of Music for the Grand and Small Piano Forte (1794); rev. GB-Lbl*


3 Pf Sonatas, A, F, C (1794/R1984 in LPS, iii) [no.3 arr. from Pf Conc.]


2 Pf Sonatas, C, g, 2 Capriccios, A, F, pf (1795/R1984 in LPS, iii); Sonatas rev. (Vienna, n.d.); Capriccios rev. in O, vi


3 Sonatas, C, G, D [La chasse], pf, vn, vc (1796)


6 Progressive Pf Sonatinas, C, G, C, F, G, D (1797/R1984 in LPS, iii, rev. 5/c1813/R1985 in LPS, iv; rev. 6/c1820)


3 Pf Sonatas, C, G, D (1798/R1984 in LPS, iii)


12 Waltzes, pf, tambourine, triangle (1798); later arr. pf, fl (by 1823)


12 Waltzes, pf, tambourine, triangle (1800); later arr. pf, fl (by 1823)


3 Pf Sonatas, G, b, d-D (1802/R1984 in LPS, iii; Paris, 1802; Vienna, 1802)


Rondo, B♭, hpd/pf, US-Wc* (Vienna, ?1802/R1984 in LPS, ii) [based on 2nd movt of op.2 no.5]


Sonata, E♭, hpd/pf (1804 [rev.]/R1984 in LPS, iii; Vienna, 1804, rev. 2/1804 and in O, vi) [rev. op.24 no.2 pubd with this sonata as op.41 no.2]


Arr. of ‘Batti batti’, pf, no.2 in Operatic Airs (1820/R1985 in LPS, iv; Leipzig, 1820; Paris, 1820)


Pf Sonata, B♭ (1820/R1985 in LPS, iv; Leipzig, 1820; Paris, 1820)


2 Capriccios, e, C, pf (1821/R1985 in LPS, iv; Leipzig, 1821; Paris, 1821)


Fantaisie with Variations on ‘Au clair de la lune’, c-C, pf (1821/R1985 in LPS, iv; Leipzig, 1821; Paris, 1821)


12 Monferrinas, pf, rough draft of no.4 GB-Lbl, autograph of no.9 US-Wc, all 12 (1821/R1985 in LPS, iv; Leipzig, 1821; Paris, 1821)


3 Pf Sonatas, A, d, g (Didone abbandonata) (1821; Leipzig, 1821; Paris, 1821)


Canon ad diapason, C, pf, rough autograph GB-Lbl, fair copy facs. in Apollo’s Gift (1830/R1985 in LPS, iv)


? The Plough Boy, with Variations, B♭, kbd (1788/R1984 in LPS, iii) [1st pubd anonymously]


Hpd Sonata, A♭, 1765, autograph F-Pn


Hpd Sonata, G, 1768, autograph Pn [with same 2nd movt as op.1 no.2]


6 Monferrinas, pf, US-Wc*


Tarantella, a, pf, Wc*


Allegro, E♭, pf, Wc*


Finale, E♭, pf, inc. autograph Wc, autograph in B♭, Wc


Duettino no.1, C, 2 pf, Wc* (complete), GB-Lbl* (movts 2, 3)


Duettino no.2, G, 2 pf, inc. autograph US-Wc


Allegro, duettino, C, 2 pf, Wc*


Allegro (Chasse), duettino, C, 2 pf, Wc*


Allegro, duettino, C, 2 pf, GB-Lbl*


Canon, B♭, 2 vn, va, 1821, Lbl*, US-NH*, S-Smf*


Nonetto: Andante, E♭, fl, ob, cl, bn, hn, vn, va, vc, db, GB-Lbl*


Nonetto: Allegro, E♭, fl, ob, cl, bn, hn, vn, va, vc, db, inc. autograph US-Wc [perhaps intended to follow wo30]

Sonata: Allegro, variations, hpd/pf, I-PLcon, Mc (1st movt)



2 Syms., B♭, D, pts (1787), ed. R. Fasano (Milan, 1959–61)

Pf Conc., C, MS copy, dated 1796, A-Wgm [arr. pf solo as op.33 no.3]


Sym. no.1, C, autograph movts and frags. US-Wc, completed and ed. A. Casella (Milan, 1938), S


Sym. no.2, D, autograph movts and frags. Wc, GB-Lbl, movts 2, 4 ed. A. Casella in Symphony in D (Milan, 1938), S


Sym. no.?3 (Great National Sym.), G, autograph movts and frags. US-Wc, S


Sym. no.4, D, autograph 1st movt GB-Lbl, sketches of later movts US-Wc, 1st movt ed. A. Casella in Symphony in D (Milan, 1938), S


Minuetto pastorale, D, Wc*, ed. A. Casella as 3rd movt of Symphony in D (Milan, 1938), S



Martirio de’ gloriosi Santi Giuliano e Celso (orat, A. Galli), Rome, 1764, lost, pubd lib I-Vgc


2 Canzonettas, S, hpd, US-STu* (Vienna, 1792)

Pedagogical works


Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte (1801, rev. 11/1826)


Epitome of Counterpoint, in Clementi’s Selection of Practical Harmony for the Organ or Piano Forte (1801)


Appendix to the Fifth Edition of Clementi’s Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte, Containing Préludes, Exercises, National Airs and Variations, with Other Pleasing and Instructive Pieces (1811/R1985 in LPS, iv [selections], rev. 2/?c1820–21 as Second Part of Clementi’s Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte)


44 Gradus ad Parnassum, or The Art of Playing on the Piano Forte (1817–26/R1985 in LPS, iv; Leipzig, 1817–26; Paris, 1817–26)



A Selection from the Melodies of Different Nations … with New Symphonies and Accompaniments for the Piano Forte, 14 nos. arr. 1–4vv, pf (1814)


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  • L. Spohr: Selbstbiographie (Kassel, 1860–61; Eng. trans., 1865 /R, 2/1878/R); ed. E. Schmitz (1954–5)
  • C. Moscheles, ed.: Aus Moscheles’ Leben (Leipzig, 1872–3; Eng. trans., 1873 /R)
  • A. F. Marmontel: Les pianistes célèbres: silhouettes et médaillons (Paris,1878, 2/1887)
  • V.D. Broughton, ed.: Court and Private Life in the Time of Queen Charlotte: being the Journals of Mrs. Papendiek (London, 1887)
  • J. S. Shedlock: ‘Muzio Clementi’, MMR, 24 (1894), 171–3
  • J. S. Shedlock: ‘Clementi Correspondence’, MMR, 32 (1902), 141–4
  • M. Unger: ‘Muzio Clementi and his Relations with G. Chr. Härtel’, MMR, 38 (1908), 246–7, 270–3
  • M. Unger: Muzio Clementis Leben (Langensalza, 1914/R)
  • G. de Saint-Foix: ‘Les symphonies de Clementi’, RMI, 31 (1924), 1–22
  • A. Stauch: Muzio Clementi’s Klavier-Sonaten im Verhältnis zu den Sonaten von Haydn, Mozart und Beethoven (Oberkasse, 1930)
  • F. Torrefranca: Le origini italiane del romanticismo musicale: i primitivi della sonata moderna (Turin, 1930)
  • G. de Saint-Foix: ‘Clementi, Forerunner of Beethoven’, MQ, 17 (1931), 84–92
  • G. de Saint-Foix: ‘Haydn and Clementi’, MQ, 18 (1932), 252–9
  • U. Rolandi: ‘Oratorio di Muzio Clementi dodicenne’, NA, 10 (1933), 249–52
  • E. di Laura: L’estetica nell’arte didattica di Muzio Clementi (Rome,1934)
  • A. Casella: ‘Le sinfonie di Muzio Clementi’, Musica d’oggi, 17 (1935), 413–19
  • A. Casella: ‘Muzio Clementi et ses symphonies’, ReM, no.164 (1936), 161–70
  • H. Simon: ‘The Clementi Manuscripts at the Library of Congress’, MQ, 28 (1942), 105–14
  • A. Loesser: Men, Women and Pianos: a Social History (New York,1954/R)
  • R. Allorto: Le sonate per pianoforte di Muzio Clementi: studio critico e catalogo tematico (Florence, 1959)
  • A. Ringer: ‘Clementi and the Eroica’, MQ, 47 (1961), 454–68
  • J. Hill: The Symphonies of Muzio Clementi (thesis, Harvard U., 1966)
  • A. Tyson: ‘Clementi’s Viennese Compositions, 1781–82’, MR, 27 (1966), 16–24
  • R. R. Kidd: The Sonata for Keyboard with Violin Accompaniment in England (1750–1790) (diss., Yale U., 1967)
  • J. D. Kohn: The Manuscript Sonatas by Muzio Clementi at the Library of Congress: a Comparative Edition with Commentary (diss., U. of Iowa, 1967)
  • A. Tyson: Thematic Catalogue of the Works of Muzio Clementi (Tutzing, 1967)
  • E. Badura-Skoda: ‘Clementi’s “Musical Characteristics” opus 19’, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Music: a Tribute to Karl Geiringer, ed. H.C. Robbins Landon and R.E. Chapman (London and New York, 1970), 53–67
  • A. L. Ringer: ‘Beethoven and the London Pianoforte School’, MQ, 56 (1970), 742–58
  • J. C. Graue: Muzio Clementi and the Development of Pianoforte Music in Industrial England (diss., U. of Illinois, 1971)
  • H. Truscott: ‘The Piano Music I’, The Beethoven Companion, ed. D. Arnold and N. Fortune (London, 1971), 68–125
  • L. Plantinga: ‘Clementi, Virtuosity, and the “German Manner”’, JAMS, 25 (1972), 303–30
  • A. Tyson: ‘A Feud between Clementi and Cramer’, ML, 54 (1973), 281–8
  • J. C. Graue: ‘The Clementi–Cramer Dispute Revisited’, ML, 56 (1975), 47–54
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  • B. Cooper: ‘A Clementi Discovery’, MR, 44 (1983), 178–85
  • T. B. Milligan: The Concerto and London’s Musical Culture in the Late Eighteenth Century (Ann Arbor, 1983)
  • M. Stoelzel: Die Anfänge vierhändiger Klavier Musik: Studien zur Satztypik in den Sonaten Muzio Clementis (Frankfurt, 1984)
  • N. Temperley: Introductions to The London Pianoforte School, 1–5 (New York, 1984–7)
  • S. Daw: ‘Muzio Clementi as an Original Advocate, Collector, and Performer, in particular of J.S. Bach and D. Scarlatti’, Bach Handel Scarlatti: Tercentenary Essays, ed. P. Williams (Cambridge, 1985), 61–74
  • W. S. Newman: Beethoven on Beethoven: Playing his Piano Music his Way (New York, 1988)
  • S. P. Rosenblum: Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music: their Principles and Applications (Bloomington, IN, 1988)
  • M. C. Gargano: ‘Attorna ad una sonata inedita di Muzio Clementi’, RIM, 25 (1990), 119–50
  • D. DeVal: Gradus ad Parnassum: the Pianoforte in London, 1770–1820 (diss., U. of London, King’s College, 1991)
  • S. McVeigh: Concert Life in London from Mozart to Haydn (Cambridge, 1993)
  • O. Neighbour: ‘A New Manuscript from Clementi's Early Years as a Keyboard Virtuoso’, Haydn, Mozart, & Beethoven: Studies in the Music of the Classical Period: Essays in Honour of Alan Tyson, ed. S. Brandenburg (Oxford, 1998), 21–32
New Haven (CT), Yale University, Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
London, British Library
Washington, DC, Library of Congress, Music Division
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Stockholm, Stiftelsen Musikkulturens Främjande
Vienna, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung
Rouen, Bibliothèque Municipale
Note d'archivio per la storia musicale
Milan, Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi, Biblioteca
Nuova rivista musicale italiana
Music & Letters
Rochester (NY), Sibley Music Library, University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music
Revue musicale
Palo Alto (CA), University, Memorial Library of Music, Department of Special Collections of the Cecil H. Green Library
Palermo, Conservatorio di Musica Vincenzo Bellini, Biblioteca
Musical Times
Venice, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Istituto per le Lettere, il Teatro ed il Melodramma, Biblioteca
W.S. Newman: The Sonata in the Classic Era (Chapel Hill, NC, 1963, 3/1983)
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Musical Quarterly
Music Review
Rivista italiana di musicologia
Monthly Musical Record
Rivista musicale italiana
Fontes artis musicae
Reading, University, Music Library