Readers must bear with me for the slowness of updating...eventually this page will be an index, and the composers will have their separate pages, but for now I'm listing a few composers together.
Whilst a child, his playing attracted the attention of an English traveller Peter Beckford. Beckford "bought Clementi of his father for seven years" and brought him to a country estate just north of Blandford Forum. Clementi spent the next seven years in solitary study and practice at the harpsichord. When he became free of his obligations to Beckford he moved to London, aged about 22.
Clementi was something of a virtuoso and his name was seen in concert programmes (as performer) with increasing frequency. He went on a European tour in 1780, aged 28. Mozart appreciated his virtuosity but reckoned his playing was rather mechanical. In 1783 Clementi accepted J.B.Cramer as a pupil. Shortly afterwards he was the regular keyboard soloist at the Hanover Square concerts.
From 1785 to 1802 Clementi remained in London and became famous as composer, performer and teacher; then as a publisher and piano maker. His last solo performance at a concert as pianist was in 1790, aged 38. Those interested in the details of Clementi's busy life can read the article in Grove. Clementi is sometimes bracketed with Field, Pinto, Dussek and Cramer and this group is known as the "London Piano School".
Clementi's best music is to be found in his sonatas for piano. There is a resemblance between some of his writing and that of Beethoven, especially the more lively minor-key sonatas. The sonata in F# minor was a favourite of Horowitz. Some of his pieces are too difficult for the amateur; he had a liking for virtuoso passages in double thirds and octaves. The Sonatinas for piano are very well-known but seem to have diminished his reputation somewhat; they are relatively harmless teaching pieces and were in frequent use during the first half of the twentieth century.
His symphonies are mainly lost, but a few survive. The "Great National" is occasionally heard today and shows his skill in counterpoint. The tune he uses in the last movement is "God Save the King" .....which appears in many guises (even backwards) before it appears in its usual form.
Impressions of Clementi's music for piano
Nevertheless you have to be choosy. He can be tiresome and uninspiring, or difficult without being musical. Some movements are too long and outstay their welcome. Some of the ideas are commonplace, and it's difficult to see why they were published. As for the "Gradus ad Parnassum" .... I'd rather break stones in a quarry. Czerny's studies flow better and are easier on the back.
GEORG FREDERIC PINTO
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
|Cosby Methodist Church|
|Links to other sites|