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Muzio Clementi


1752 - 1832


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Date of death:

At the age of thirteen Clementi became organist of the Roman basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso. Sir Peter Beckford heard him playing the harpsichord and at the end of 1767 the young musician accompanied Beckford to England and spent the next seven years advancing his studies and providing music at his patron’s house in Dorset. In 1774, freed from his obligations to the Beckford family, he moved to London, where he built up a fine reputation as a soloist; his first successes as a composer came in the late 1770s. In 1780 he embarked on a continental tour, and while in Vienna met Haydn and Mozart. On his return to London in 1785, Clementi the composer and soloist diversified his activities. He was soon in great demand as a piano teacher to members of high society; he was a conductor (directing his own symphonies from the keyboard), a music publisher and later an instrument maker. In 1802 he left on another European tour, this time taking his pupil John Field (1782-1837) with him; largely improvised owing to the vicissitudes of the Napoleonic wars, it was to last until 1810. During that tour he acted as a representative of his firm, seeking a market for Clementi pianos; he also met Beethoven and became his publisher in England. Back in London, Clementi devoted himself mainly to publishing and to his piano firm. Between 1817 and 1826, he nevertheless brought out his three-volume Gradus ad Parnassum, a collection of studies written and revised over a period of some forty-five years, which was an enormous success and, with his sonatas, became a staple in the training of pianists until the beginning of the twentieth century.

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Muzio Clementi

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