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Clementi, Muzio
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Clementi, Muzio

(Born; Rome, 23 Jan 1752; Died; Evesham, 10 March 1832). English composer, keyboard player,publisher and piano manufacturer of Italian birth. He trained first in Rome, but in 1766-7 went to Dorset, England, to study the harpsichord. Moving to London in 1774, he became conductor at the King's Theatre and from 1770 gave concerts, often including his well-known keyboard sonatas op.2 (1779).

Clementi travelled widely as a pianist in 1780-85, and in 1781 took part in a piano contest with Mozart in Vienna. In 1785-1802 he was a frequent piano soloist in London (notably at the Grand Professional Concerts) and conductor of his own symphonies, but in the 1790s he was overshadowed by the visiting Haydn. He was in great demand as a teacher. In 1798 he established a music publishing and piano-making firm, touring Europe (initially with his pupil John Field) as its representative in 1802-10. Among the firm's publications were major works by Beethoven. Clementi continued to conduct his symphonies in London and abroad; his last major works were three piano sonatas op.50 (1821).

Foremost in Clementi's large output are Circa; 70 keyboard sonatas, spanning some 50 years. Counter-point, running figuration and virtuoso passage-work are constant elements. The earliest (some with violin) generally have two movements, but three are normal from Circa; 1782. Dramatic writing (which strongly influenced Beethoven) appears increasingly, and works such as op.13 (1785) feature motivic unity and powerful expression. The sonatas of after Circa; 1800 tend to be more diffuse. Only six of the symphonies and one piano concerto (1796) survive. Clementi also wrote keyboard duets, chamber music and two influential didactic works, Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte (1801) and the comprehensive keyboard collection Gradus ad Parnassum (1817-26).

Keyboard music: Circa;70 solo sonatas; sonatinas, variations; pf duets.

Chamber music: over 40 acc. kbd sonatas; trio and nonet movts.

Orchestral music: 2 syms. (1787); pf conc. minuet.

Vocal music: 2 canzonettas.

© Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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