Muzio Clementi was born in Rome on 23 January 1752 but his fate was sealed as an English musician when Peter Beckford offered Clementi employment as pianist-in-residence at Beckford's country house in Dorset. Following a move to London, six early piano sonatas Op 2 (1779) were the first pieces by Clementi to attract interest. He soon began touring Europe, famously playing in Paris for Marie Antoinette and 'duelling' in Vienna with Mozart, who thought Clementi's playing showed no taste or feeling.
Later, Clementi went into business, making and selling pianos and publishing music, and was an important figure in these areas. His company acquired the British rights to some of Ludwig van Beethoven's music. He became a director of the newly-founded Philharmonic Society, and was active as an orchestral composer and conductor around 1820. It was during this period, too, that he wrote his famous piano studies Gradus ad Parnassum. He retired to the English countryside, where he died, on 10 March 1832, in the pretty market town of Evesham in Worcestershire, leaving a legacy of writing and teaching that affected musical life throughout the nineteenth century.
A selection of M&V articles about Muzio Clementi
Ask Alice - Muzio Clementi and the British Music Scene, with Classical Music Agony Aunt Alice McVeigh
CD Spotlight. A Mixed Bag - Ian Hominick plays Clementi, heard by Andrew Schartmann. 'At times, his playing is sensitive and exact.'
Lucidity of Touch - Leonora Armellini plays for the Keyboard Trust, heard by Bill Newman
Ensemble. Tuning in Afresh - Bill Newman listens to Bulgarian pianist Vesselin Stanev
Highly Impressive - A recital by Michael Ierace, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Rhythmic Freedom - Geoffrey Lancaster plays Haydn, heard by Robert Anderson. '... a very auspicious start.'
CD Spotlight. Without Parallel - Haydn's late piano trios delight Robert Anderson. '... stylish and impeccable.'
CD Spotlight. Virtuoso Duo - Performances by the Elaris Duo, recommended by Malcolm Tattersall. '... all the passion, drama and integrity one could want.'
Record Box. Wonderfully Auspicious - Haydn from the Florestan Trio, reviewed by Robert Anderson
Iberian discovery - Malcolm Miller enjoys a Nancy Lee Harper recital of unfamiliar music
Record box. A different fellow - Clementi in musical flight, by Basil Ramsey